Understanding a Priest’s Salary

Diocesan priests work long hours, put together homilies and celebrate sacraments every weekend, and are responsible for much more than many Catholics would ever guess. The work that goes into leading a parish (or multiple parishes), a Catholic school, a parish staff, and many ministries within the community can be endless. For all of their work serving the Church, how are they compensated? The Most Rev. Thomas Rodi, Archbishop of Mobile, joined Morning Air® to share a little insight into the salary of a priest.

“I can only speak for the Archdiocese of Mobile as this varies greatly from diocese to diocese around the United States. But our priests—our active, diocesan priests—receive a stipend of $1,400 a month or $16,800 a year; that’s his salary. In addition to that, he gets room and board, he has health insurance (the insurance that our lay employees receive), also the Archdiocese provides an annual three day spiritual retreat and an annual two day continuing education,” said Archbishop Rodi.

“And finally, the last thing is that there is a $475 a month stipend that’s given to the priest for things that will help him professionally. We want to encourage priests to read books, to attend lectures, things of this nature as well as to buy clerical garb. So there’s a professional reimbursement stipend, $475 a month, to specifically help him in things that he has to buy for his ministry or to enrich his ministry.”

Because priests and religious in many religious orders take a vow of poverty, some people mistakenly believe that all priests take the same vow when they are ordained. “The priests in the Archdiocese of Mobile who belong to religious orders, they take a vow of poverty so they can not own anything in their name. Archdiocesan priests do not, so they can own something in their name such as an automobile. But they are responsible for paying for whatever they own,” explained Archbishop Rodi.

The expenses that our priests are responsible for are numerous. “The $1,400 a month that a priest gets, that goes to pay for his car, his car insurance, other car expenses, taxes, clothes, personal items, deductibles for healthcare, prescription medicines, donations that our priests give to charity, any vacation or entertainment that they take, et cetera. All those things comes out of that $1,400 but we do not have among archdiocesan priests a vow of poverty—they are responsible for their own expenses.”

It goes without saying that our priests aren’t in it for the money. “Our archdiocesan priests live a pretty simple life. They are not extravagant in their living style at all, that has been my experience,” said Archbishop Rodi. “I recently celebrated the funeral of a 95-year-old priest and listening to the people there at the funeral talk about how this priest had enriched their lives, blessed their lives by his priestly ministry. It was so obvious to me that this priest had poured out his life as a gift. And that’s what our priests do the day that they are ordained—they basically say to God and to the Church: I’m giving my life as a gift to you, God, and to God’s people.”

Listen to the full podcast here: