Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fears of the Priesthood pt 5

Over the course of the past few weeks, I've done some writing about some of the fears a man may have concerning choosing his vocation to the priesthood. The complete set is available here. The comments are based on Fr. Brett Brannen's book, "To Save A Thousand Souls". Of his concerns, I added two: Fear of Death and Dying and Fear of Economic Insecurity.

The final chapter thus begins:

 It's no big secret that money is a concern to everyone. Even priests depend on money. Since we're discussing the Diocesan priesthood, we are talking about priests (like me) who have to be economically responsible for certain things such as their automobile and the expenses associated with it. I also have to pay taxes. And buy my own deodorant. If you meet a stinky diocesan priest, it's because he can't afford deodorant.

 I know this may come as a shocker to some of you. Not that there are stinky priests but the whole paying for stuff thing.

A lot of folks believe the CHURCH takes care of the priest. And we are well taken care of. I don't have to pay rent (but I don't own my home). I get reimbursed for my gas mileage. I don't have to pay for most of my meals (or those pertaining to Church ministry). I don't have to pay for my phone, utilities and other expenses. However, I chose to pay for some things (and priests vary) because I either believe these are personal items (high speed internet at home so I can do my vidya fasterest), frivolous expenses (if I have food at home, you should not have to pay for me to eat out), or expenses that I'd rather take care of out of concern for the parish and my own conscience (my cell-phone...I do not want the parish to be responsible for my snark texts!). Again, this is strictly up to the priest.
Father Lil' Wayne of the Stanktification Church

So here's a breakdown. How much do I make?
I get a whopping Sean Combs sized check of $1,450.00 a month. That's right. ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS! Of that amount, $250.00 is car allowance.

One priest referred to what we get is more like a stipend (a sum to cover living expenses) rather than a salary. Although Uncle Sam considers it a salary. Taxable income. Give to Caesar and all that.

The bishop sets the amount for priest "salary". Dioceses range higher and some are even lower than ours. Not many but some.

So on the secure side: We have good health insurance. We don't starve. We don't want for clothes (clerical garb is covered as a business expense, but I don't want Uncle Sam to know my pants size. I have my reasons). We have places to live that are well managed.

And depending on who you are: PEOPLE GIVE YOU STUFF.

On the insecure side: We don't get to live large. I have to sweat it out sometime when a car repair comes up. That's why it's important for priests to save money. It's important for any of us! Having a savings account is a good thing.
We aren't so sure about our retirement. In the past, priests lived and died in the parish they pastored in. That's not the model we are working with now. Some of us priests minister beyond retirement age. Some of us live in a rectory and have our needs met there. Some of those needs are totally Downtown Abbey! Cook, housekeeper, even a dinner bell. Some live in care facilities or nursing homes.
But the money is thin and we rely on our families or donations. Which is scary.
SAVE MONEY. Just remember that.
That "PEOPLE GIVE YOU STUFF" is not going to last forever.
The collection plate can't even pay for itself in some places!
 In the current era, people are less religious. We know this. People are less likely to contribute to their church or their clergy. In the past, people were responsible with that obligation. Not so much today. The baby boomers and younger just don't throw the dolla bills at father like their grandfathers did.
So the reliance on PEOPLE TAKING CARE OF YOU is misguided.

But, the Church is obligated. The Diocese is obligated to take care of the clergy. And if the Diocese is pro-clergy and positive about the priests, then they will do the right thing.

Read that last sentence.

Then think about it.

Then you may or may not have a FEAR OF THE PRIESTHOOD NUMBER 5.

This whole series was done for this gif.

*Maybe not so funny. But it fit the Crypt Keeper.