The Average Salary Of A Catholic Priest

By Jay White

June 7, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith,” said Saint Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8. “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness,” he said.

Let’s just say that crown is neither golden nor gilded.

Outside of scam artists like Benny Hinn, most members of the ministry will never claim a golden crown – at least not on earth. On May 28, 2015, reported that the average annual salary for an American diocesan Catholic priest was $46,000.

Let’s read in between the zeros.

First of all, related careers reap substantially different rewards. A Catholic bilingual Spanish-English chaplain, for instance, can expect to make $74,000. American Muslim imams and Protestant pastors might make $30-$50,000. Not to enforce the stereotype, but Jewish rabbis bring home an average of $140,000. Catholic priests of ascetic religious orders may take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and receive nothing more than a survival stipend.

But unlike an engineer, who receives his salary in a bi-monthly series of deposits, a member of the Catholic clergy handles only a portion of his income. Rectory room and board, food, continuing education, health and dental insurance and vacation are often provided thanks to the generosity of the diocese parish. What’s left over, usually around $20,000, is bestowed on the priest as take-home pay.

Of course, the size of the stipend and salary is largely dependent on the size of the diocese. Priests serving larger parishes may claim fatter wallets. As of November 2010, a Roman Catholic priest in Phoenix, Arizona made $29,211 a year. A priest in Miami, Florida, meanwhile, made $44,566. Some priests may receive free Internet and cable services, free housekeeping, free lawn care and other gratis amenities. Again, these services are usually factored into the national average salary of $46,000.

So while some priests can afford second homes and ignore the 15.3 percent Social Security tax, others beseech God every morning for their daily bread. However, Roman Catholic priests have what many other professions don’t: job security. Due to declining seminary enrollment and the Church’s “we protect our own” philosophy, Catholic priests should enjoy employment until retirement around age 70.

There will be no McMansions, no Virgin Islands, no Patek Phillippe watches for the Catholic clergy. Lest that cause disappointment, remember this:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Jay White

I started Dumb Little Man many years ago so great authors, writers and bloggers could share their life "hacks" and tips for success with everyone. I hope you find something you like!

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