Do Catholic Priests Get Paid?

Catholic priests dedicate their lives to prayer, Bible study, and helping Christians stay on their way to heaven. Some priests belong to a religious order, such as the Jesuits, and live as families in a religious community.

Catholic priests are paid. Orthodox priests are paid as well. They are employees of their churches, and their churches may avoid certain taxes, so priests pay taxes in an augmented way to account for that. In the United States, the average salary of a priest is roughly $53,000 per year.

Some priests are also offered free accommodation within their religious community or in the parish house of the church. In older churches – mostly built before the 1950s – it is very common to have a vicarage attached to the church so that the parish priest can comfortably live near the church.

Pastors often choose to live in a separate house on the same property as the church, or in a house next door, such as across the street or a block away. Depending on the age, size and population of the parish, the pastor may or may not live in the church himself. Otherwise, priests can retire home or “live in the community” with priests in the parish church. After retirement, priests have the opportunity to live in parish houses or private homes or apartments.

How Priestly Housing Works

If a priest chooses to live in a parish parish house, he is required to pay rent to the parish for the food and lodging provided. A resident priest is a priest who, although not assigned to work in a parish, lives in the parish house.

Usually a priest who is a retired priest, although he may also be a priest assigned to teach, administer a diocese, or perform similar non-parish duties. A priest must perform all his duties in his assigned position and obtain approval from his pastor/administrator before accepting an invitation to serve in any capacity in another parish.

A priest who is assigned to a parish or who has received full residence in a parish is not entitled to receive service taxes from his parish. Priests Exercising Active Parish Ministry Active parish ministry must reside in a rectory or other home established for that purpose in their parish and foster a sense of community life among priests assigned to or residing in that parish. The Office of the Clergy and Consecrated Life also provides assistance to the rectors and, if desired, arranges accommodation in the parish rectors.

Living the Life of a Diocesan Priest

Diocesan priests live in parishes, alone or with another priest, but generally have their lodgings inside the rector, the house where the parish priests live.

Diocesan priests answer to the bishops of their diocese, do not take vows of poverty, and take care of the needs of the people in their parish. Diocesan priests usually live in a small parish house attached to the church and serve in one or more nearby parishes. A clergy house is the residence or previous residence of one or more priests or worshipers. The priest is where the pastor of the church resides; parish priest – the priest/presbyter of the parish church.

The official name of the minister who lives in the parish house is the rector, a member of the clergy of the Episcopal, Catholic or Anglican Church. Priests are usually referred to as Reverend Father/Mother (though not religious) or Reverend Mr/Mrs/Mrs.

Some priests and monks also wear rings as a reminder of their daily commitment to the Catholic Church. In most Orthodox traditions and some Eastern Catholic churches, married men can be ordained priests, but priests cannot marry after ordination. Another situation where married priests are allowed is when a married priest or a priest of another denomination (such as Anglican) converts to Catholicism.

Arrangements for Newly Ordained Priests

Newly ordained priests can only be appointed for one year so that they can be transferred to some parishes before longer appointments to gain wider experience. Catholic priests remain single, making it easier for them to make ends meet on a modest salary with additional compensations such as food allowance and travel allowance.

Priests of religious institutes who serve in the parish ministry in an archdiocese may be paid the same pension as priests of religious institutes who work in education, university ministry, and archiepiscopal offices or in similar positions.

The support provided to priests limited by the ministry is paid for by investment income from the unlimited investment, which is separate and distinct from the Priests’ Retirement Trust Fund. Amounts previously set aside and saved for priests’ pensions Priests’ pensions were used only to pay these benefits. Priests are eligible to receive the full Priests’ Retirement Plan when they are twenty-five (25) years old in the plan and at least sixty-five (65) years old.

The Taxation of Priests

Priests must declare taxable income, such as salary supplements and daily allowances, which can be up to 20 percent of the salary earned. What a priest must buy with their salary varies from ward to ward, but the most common are vehicles, clothing, recreation, and other items not directly related to their duties in the Catholic Church. A priest who wishes to receive an amount “in lieu of a salary” must be prepared to celebrate Mass for the intentions entrusted to him in the parish, in accordance with local procedure.

Those priests who are no longer able to live independently in their retirement years are provided with assistance with housework and care as needed. Retired and resident priests should be recruited and encouraged to participate or take a leadership role in promoting a positive community experience for priests in their locality, including retired priests who may live privately with priests in their home. Of course, priests also receive spiritual and emotional benefits, as well as the satisfaction of positively influencing their community.


Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

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