How married priests live—UPDATED

Reading about the new married priest in Buffalo, and thinking of other priests in similar circumstances, a reader gripes:

As my wife pointed out, this guy at 65 …with no pension…will now camp in a free rectory with free utilities, a car and stipends…

Whoa. Not exactly.

I contacted the Anglican Ordinariate. A source there clarified:

Some, but not all of our priests, have outside sources of income. However, before a person is ordained, or even advanced in the formation process, the Ordinariate must ensure that he will a) have a ministry in which to engage and b) adequate income sources to care for his and his family’s needs.

All of which is to say that many of the married ministers joining the Catholic Church and subsequently being ordained priests often have other jobs; they may teach, write, or do some form of professional ministerial work or chaplaincy. Many have wives who work, too. And they don’t necessarily live in the rectory.   A few years back, my in-laws in Maryland had a former Episcopalian priest, married with children, in their parish. He was a schoolteacher full time, and the family lived away from the church property, in a house that he owned before his ordination. From my understanding, that’s fairly common for these priests.

UPDATE: For an interesting look at what life is like for a married Greek Catholic priest and his family in a small Ukrainian town, check out this article “Serving Church and Family” from 2004.   A snip:

Even before meeting Volodymyr, Halia imagined herself as a priest’s wife. She grew up in Yavoriv, a center of the underground church. She had a regular underground confessor; underground nuns taught her catechism.

“When my brother decided to become a priest, he shared his concerns with me,” Mrs. Havrylenko says. “When I was younger I was afraid to become a priest’s wife. I knew this would be a great responsibility and my husband would have to sacrifice a lot for the church and his people.”

They married in 1997, the same year Volodymyr was ordained a deacon. A year later he was ordained a priest. His first assignment was at the Church of the Most Holy Eucharist in Lviv, a pastoral center for students. Mrs. Havrylenko took a job at a bank and had little time to help her husband…

…The life of a small-town priest is busy. Father Havrylenko gets up at 6 a.m. and celebrates the Divine Liturgy in Yavoriv at 8 a.m. He then hears confessions, which takes much of his time throughout the year, especially before Easter. Three days a week he teaches a course on Christian ethics at a local public school and a few times a week he leads evening devotions. He also teaches special catechism classes throughout the year.

Three priests serve St. George’s, so every third week Father Havrylenko takes his turn “on duty.” In addition to other tasks, he conducts funerals, makes sick calls and presides at baptisms and weddings.

Sundays are particularly full for Father Havrylenko. He celebrates one liturgy each in Yavoriv and Koty before driving to Nemyriv to lead the liturgy at Father Stetskyi’s parish. Sometimes he has an afternoon baptism, followed by evening prayer, often conducted in two parishes. “I get home and have breakfast at 7:30 p.m.,” he laughs.

Read it all.  

Browse Our Archives