1102 Priestly Life and Ministry General Issues

The Division of Clergy Personnel


1102.1 Priestly Life in General

1102.1.1 Service to the Archdiocese and Cooperation Among the Clergy
  • All clergy, by virtue of their sacred ordination and their common mission, namely the building up of the Body of Christ, are to be so united among themselves by the bonds of fraternity and of prayer such that they strive for cooperation among themselves in accord with the prescriptions of particular law. Canon 275, §1
  • To the extent that their regular duties permit, all priests are urged to make themselves available for service on one or more of the various councils, commissions, boards, Boards, and other bodies which presently exist, or which may be created from time to time to further the total pastoral life of the Archdiocese.
1102.1.2 Obligation of the Liturgy of the Hours
  • For a priest, prayer is a primary duty and is essential for priestly ministry. The call from God to pray daily the Liturgy of the Hours is a canonical obligation that priests warmly and freely welcome at the moment of their ordination. It is seen by the Church as the sanctification of time and persons being accomplished.
  • Priests and deacons are obliged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily.
  • Seminarians and Deacon Candidates should be introduced and encouraged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours since it is the official prayer of the Church and gives a firm liturgical direction to their prayer.
  • Priests should promote this treasury of prayers to the laity, particularly through its common celebration in the local parish. Canon 276 §2, 3º
1102.1.3 Pursuit of Holiness
  • By virtue of their consecration to God in the reception of orders, priests are especially bound to pursue holiness.
  • In order for them to pursue this perfection, they are bound to:
    • Fulfill faithfully the duties of pastoral ministry;
    • Nourish their spiritual life from the two-fold table of Sacred Scripture and the Eucharist;
    • Be conscientious in devoting time regularly to prayer, in approaching the sacrament of penance frequently, to cultivate special devotion to the Virgin Mother of God; and
    • To use other common and particular means for their sanctification. Canon 276
1102.2 Accessibility

Within reason, when away on vacation or any other cause, every priest should be able to be reached — that is, someone in the rectory or in the institution where he regularly discharges his duties should know his whereabouts and how he can be expeditiously contacted in cases of special needs and/or emergencies. 

1102.3 Attire
  • Whenever he is engaged in public priestly or pastoral functions, both in the rectory and outside it, the priest shall wear appropriate clerical garb.
  • At all other times, priests are to dress in a manner which reflects their responsibility among God’s people, taking care that their attire is neither a source of scandal nor embarrassment to the faithful. Canon 284
    • Civil Courts
  • Initiating A Lawsuit:  No priest, secular or religious, residing in this Archdiocese shall initiate civil or criminal action or voluntarily give testimony before civil authorities without prior consultation with the Archbishop and the Chancellor.
  • Called As Witness in A Lawsuit:  If a priest is summoned to appear in any court as defendant or witness, he shall immediately report the fact and the circumstances to the Archbishop and the Chancellor.  Canon 1288
  • Management of the Goods of Others:  Without the permission of the Archbishop, priests are not to take on the management of goods belonging to lay persons or secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. They are prohibited from giving surety with their own goods without consultation with the Archbishop. Canon 285 §4
  • Jury Duty:  Priests are expected to participate fully if called upon to serve on Jury Duty.
1102.5 Health

Proper health care indicates an awareness of the essential unity between the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well-being of a person. Just as the priest is responsible to pursue programs of spiritual enrichment and continuing education, a priest should develop and practice good health habits in order that he may minister effectively. 

  • A Priest’s Responsibility
    • A priest’s responsible care of his physical, psychological and emotional health is both an act of stewardship for a part of God’s creation, and a sign to others, inviting them to join in the care of human life and all that sustains it.
    • The body is to be a temple of the Holy Spirit that glorifies God (I Cor 6:19-20). Therefore, every priest is encouraged to develop a personal program of health care which should include: health education, frequent medical examinations, proper nutrition, exercise, adequate periods of rest, and the elimination of addictive habits which are known to be harmful to human health.
    • Every priest of the Archdiocese who is under the age of 40 should have a complete physical examination by the physician of his choice every two years.
    • Every priest who is over the age of 40 should have a complete physical examination by a physician of his choice every year.
  • Clergy Education
    • The Priests’ Continuing Education Board shall sponsor periodic educational programs directed towards improving the understanding and the care of the physical health of the priests. Attendance is highly recommended.
1102.6 Intervention and Aid to Priests in Need
  • Priests have no special immunity from addictive disorders or from acute emotional, psychological, or spiritual distress.  The Archdiocese officially recognizes alcoholism, other forms of substance abuse, severe mental illness and/or personality disorders as manifestations of human illness.
  • Priests who suffer from such illness are entitled to understanding and help.  It is the serious obligation of the Archdiocese to provide and facilitate treatment that will lead to the recovery of a priest.
  • The primary objectives and concerns of this policy are to relieve pain and suffering, to restore health and dignity, and to return affected priests to productive and rewarding involvement in their ministry.
  • It is anticipated that each priest treated will, upon satisfactory completion of a treatment program, be given an official assignment compatible, insofar as possible, with his ability and needs.  The implementation of this policy shall be conducted in a confidential manner.
1102.6.1 Identification of Crisis Situation
  • A crisis situation exists when an individual’s behavior repeatedly interferes with the proper performance of his duties, reduces his dependability, impairs his interpersonal relations, affects his health, and/or reflects discredit on his office.
  • In the case of substance abuse, the problem is not always determined in terms of volume of usage or frequency of use but rather in terms of the substance’s effect upon behavior and function.
1102.6.2 Intervention

An afflicted person is not always able to diagnose himself and volunteer for treatment. 

  • Responsibility to Intervene: The responsibility for active intervention rests with priest associates, supervisors, and others as well as the priest himself.  The earlier a problem is recognized the more effectively it can be treated.  Therefore, it is critical that associates and superiors confront the priest while therapeutic measures are still feasible.
  • Obligation to Intervene:  Should a priest be unsure of his responsibility to confront a fellow priest or the method that might be used to do assist the priest, he should consult with Vicar Bishop or the Director of Clergy Personnel.
1102.6.3 Treatment:  Effective treatment takes place in two phases:
  • Emotional, physical, and spiritual stabilization; and
  • Rehabilitation to a healthy, integrated life-style.
1102.6.4 Leave of Absence

Should time away from a work assignment be needed to facilitate treatment or recovery, appropriate including proper financial consideration.

1102.6.5 Assignment
  • Every priest is guaranteed full and equitable consideration in determining his assignment when he has satisfactorily completed treatment.
  • The Priestly Life and Ministry Board, in consultation with the Office of Clergy Personnel, will make recommendations to the Archbishop regarding the priest’s assignment.
1102.7 Forms of Leave
1102.7.1 Day Off
  • Each priest is entitled to and encouraged to take a full day and a half off from duties each week.
  • He is strongly encouraged to take this time for his own benefit and for the people he serves.
  • Every third week he may absent himself from duties for two consecutive days including an overnight.
1102.7.2 Vacation

Annual Vacation: Every priest is entitled to an annual vacation of at least three continuous weeks, containing two full weekends during the summer or at another time mutually agreeable to him and to the pastor or other superior.

Christmas and Easter:  Each priest is also entitled to one week vacation after Christmas and one week vacation after Easter, beginning Sunday and ending Saturday.

Substitute:  It is the responsibility of the pastor or other superior to secure a substitute for these periods of vacation when one is needed.  Payment for the substitute is to be made from parish funds.

Permanent Chaplain in Religious House or Catholic Institutions:  The religious house or Catholic institution to which a permanent resident chaplain is attached has the same responsibility as a pastor to provide for a substitute during the vacation of the chaplain and for the expenses involved.

  • Therefore, it is the duty of the superior of the religious house or Catholic institution to provide a substitute chaplain and to pay him for the time of the chaplain’s absence for vacation and for any other legitimate reason.
  • If necessary, the chaplain is to help the superior to secure the substitute, who has the same rights, duties, and faculties as the chaplain.
  • Chaplain in Non-Catholic Institutions:  Resident and non-resident chaplains in non-Catholic institutions are to obtain their own substitutes.
1102.7.3 Retreat
  • All priests are bound to make a retreat annually. This time is not considered in the calculation of a priest’s vacation time as noted in 2.6.2.
  • Retreats will be sponsored each year by the Continuing Education and Formation Board of the Priestly Life and Ministry Board.
1102.7.4 Continuing Education


1102.7.5 Temporary Medical Leave
  • When a priest of the Archdiocese is granted a medical leave of absence for treatment of physical or mental illness, he is to receive full compensation for the first month of his medical leave from the parish or institution to which he is assigned. 
  • He is then eligible to participate in the Short Term Disability Program.
  • He will continue to receive his monthly salary.
  • The Office of Clergy Personnel is responsible for maintaining payment of the following:
    • Pension
    • Health Insurance
    • Short Term Disability
    • Group Life Insurance
    • Professional Expense Account
    • Housing, if applicable.
  • Salary payments to the priest are made either by the Office or by the parish where the priest is assigned, and either the Office or the parish will be reimbursed by the Short Term Disability payments.
  • Salary Beyond 12 Months:  When the twelve-month limit of Short Term Disability Insurance is reached, the Archdiocese will assume responsibility for these costs.
1102.7.6 Leave of Absence
  • Voluntary Leave
    • Discernment Leave: a priest who is not functioning as a priest in order to reflect on whether or not he wishes to remain in priestly ministry. The priest’s faculties are resigned and/or withdrawn and he is released from his assignment.
    • Permanent Leave: a priest who is not functioning as a priest and has decided not to return or to abandon active priestly ministry.  A period of discernment (usually a year or less) is undertaken before this decision is made. The priest is without faculties and is released from his assignment.
  • Involuntary Leave: a priest who is no longer permitted to function as a priest and for all intents and purposes will not be returning to active priestly ministry.  Typically, the priest does not enjoy faculties from the Ordinary and is removed from his assignment.
1102.7.7 Family Leave Act:
  • If a priest will be away longer than three weeks to care for a parent or sibling, the Office of Clergy Personnel should be notified.
  • If the priest must be away from his assignment for more than three weeks, the Director of Clergy Personnel is to discuss the appropriate actions to be taken to attend to the needs of the priest and those he may be serving.
  • Proper financial arrangements should also be considered if the care is to be for an extended period of time.
  • If the family member is residing in the rectory during this period of sickness, the Office of Clergy Personnel should be consulted for its approval.
1102.7.8 Total Leave

If a priest is planning to be away for more than a month (combination of vacation, retreat, education etc.), he must, prior to leaving, notify the Office of Clergy Personnel so that it is aware of his absence. 

1102.8 Housing
  • It is the general norm for this diocese that all priests incardinated in the Archdiocese of Baltimore are to live in a rectory. 
  • Permission to Live Outside the Rectory:  A priest assigned to parish ministry may seek to live outside of the parish rectory on his own or with other priests with the approval of the Archbishop.
    • The priest must seek this permission prior to leaving a rectory.
    • Before the decision is finalized the proper financial arrangements must be finalized with the Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel; and
    • This agreement must be in writing so the parish or ministry is aware of the costs associated with the arrangement.
  • Associate Pastors:  In the case of Associate Pastors, the approval of the Pastor will also be required.
  • Factors for Permission:  The decision to grant permission for alternate living will be made by the Pastor and the Archbishop, or his delegate, and will be determined using the following factors:
    • Financial viability;
    • Availability for pastoral and emergency care; and
    • The impact on other priests in the parish or the local area.
1102.8.1 Conditions of the Rectory:

The rectory, defined as the residential space provided for the priests, should be primarily a home for the residents;

  • Privacy: The rectory should be private to the residents;
    • Separation of Space:  All attempts should be made to have the offices, work spaces, staff and parishioners separate from the living quarters of the rectory;
    • Rooms:  Each rectory should maintain a common living room, dining room and kitchen;
    • Residents:  Only clergy and seminarians are allowed to live in rectories; and
    • Exclusive Use:  Designated living quarters of priests and religious are exclusively for their use.

Furnishings and Environment:

Furnishings:  The rectory furnishings, including rugs and window treatments, should be of adequate quality, be maintained properly regarding cleanliness and periodically updated;

    • Infrastructure:  The residence infrastructure should be properly maintained to assure proper plumbing, electricity, air conditioning and heating; and
    • Suitability:  A rectory should be furnished in a manner which reflects the priest’s responsibility among God’s people, taking care that its decoration is neither a source of scandal nor embarrassment to the faithful while taking into consideration the financial position of the parish.

Personal Living Quarters:

Personal Quarters:  Each priest resident should have adequate personal quarters consisting of a bedroom, sitting room and bath. The rooms should also be properly furnished and maintained.

    • Transitions:  It is expected that during transitions from one priest to another these spaces and furnishings would be thoroughly cleaned and prepared for the incoming resident.
    • Suitability:  This area should be furnished in a manner which reflects the priest’s responsibility among God’s people, taking care that its decoration is neither a source of scandal nor embarrassment to the faithful while taking into consideration the financial position of the parish.
1102.8.2 Meals

Quality:  It is expected that the residents’ food would be of quantity and quality comparable with the average household.

Guests:  Priests should be able to treat their home in such a manner that guests would be welcome to dine at the rectory.

Meal Allowance

When a prepared main meal is not provided by the parish, an allowance for that day is given to each priest, the amount is published in the Compensation Guidelines for Parishes and Schools.

  • If a main meal is provided but the priest chooses not to partake of that meal, he is not entitled to the amount for that day.
  • The meal allowance is not for days off or days away from the parish, such as professional development days.
  • The monthly amount is determined by the Director of Clergy Personnel in conjunction with the Department of Human Resources.
1102.8.3 Smoking and Pets

Basic Rule:  The rectory should be both smoke-free and pet free unless all the residents agree otherwise.

Individual Basis:  Practices relating to smoking and household pets in the rectory are delicate issues and will need to be negotiated on an individual rectory basis.

1102.9 Public Offices & Trade

Priests are forbidden to assume, or to seek election or appointment to, any public office which entails participation in the exercise of civil power.  They are also forbidden to have an active role in political parties and labor unions without the permission of the competent ecclesiastical authority. Canon 286

1102.10 Social Media Policy for Priests

The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul’s exclamation: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel’ ” (1 Cor 9:16) – Pope Benedict XVI, May 16, 2010, 44th World Day of Communication Message.

“Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church; today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ.”
– Pope Francis, World Communications Day Message

General Guidelines

  • The Code of Conduct for Church Personnel should be adhered to at all times.
  • All who work for the Church, particularly the clergy, must remember that they are considered “public persons” who speak for the Church in almost every setting.
  • Everyone who works in and for the Church should use sound judgment and common sense when taking part in social media.
  • Social media interaction should not be viewed as a substitute for face-to-face gatherings.
  • All posts and comments should be marked by Christian charity and respect for the truth. They should be on topic and presume the good will of other posters. Discussion should take place primarily from a faith perspective. Extensive conversations via social media should be avoided.
  • Priests should use public, official websites and email, to conduct their parish/ministry business.
  • Priests should not use their personal Facebook, Twitter, email or another social media platform for on-going pastoral care.
Social Media and Minors
  • While there is a difference between initiating a “friend request” and accepting one, friend/connection requests should not be initiated by Priests in regards to those under the age of 18.
    • A priest’s personal media pages and information should be neither advertised nor accessible to young people.
    • If any Priest knowingly communicates privately with a minor as a part of his or her duties for or on behalf of the parish/ministry, steps must be taken to send the minor’s parent/guardian the same communication content, not necessarily via the same technology.
    • Any communication that might be construed as having sexual overtones is prohibited.
    • Do not reply to any such message received, especially from minors; make and keep a copy of any such inappropriate communication and notify the Office of Child and Youth Protection.
  • Anything that could cause scandal to the faithful, the Church, the Archdiocese of Baltimore or its leadership should be avoided.
    • Such may include mention of inappropriate use of alcohol, advocacy of inappropriate music/movies, inappropriate language, inappropriate dress, or the expression of opinions that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
    • This includes the posting of photographs or comments of any kind.
  • It is recommended that the “no tagging” option be set on any and all social media.
  • Social media should not be used to express partisan or political speech or opinions of any kind.
  • Priests should be aware that their “likes” or browser history may be available to others including the general public, so care must be taken to avoid scandal to others.
  • No advertising/financial profit may be added to any personal or public social media page for any priest without the express written permission of the Delegate of the Office of Clergy Personnel.

1102.11 Wills and Funeral Instructions

Requirement:  Within three months of ordination or incardination, every secular priest of the Archdiocese shall make a last will and testament, in a form valid under civil law. 

  • A copy of such a will, signed, witnessed, dated, and sealed, must be furnished to the Chancery Office in a sealed envelope.
  • The will should provide specifically for the fulfillment of undischarged Mass intentions.
  • It is further suggested that each priest periodically update his will as his estate changes.
  • The drafting of a will is free to any priest who seeks the services of Gallagher, Evelius and Jones for this purpose.
  • Alternative Legal Drafter: If a priest chooses another attorney to draft his will, it is his responsibility to pay for these services and make certain his will is on file at the Chancery.
  • Funerals: It is advisable that particular desires regarding the funeral of a priest be stated elsewhere than his will.
    • Priests are encouraged to take advantage of the service many funeral directors now offer making “pre-arrangements” with regard to specific funeral instructions.
    • Each priest must submit his funeral guidelines to the Office of Clergy Personnel in order to assure that his wishes are properly executed.
    • See appendix 8 for a funeral arrangements form.

1102.12 International Priests

1102.12.1 Seeking to Minister in the Archdiocese of Baltimore
  • Initial Contact: Any priest who is incardinated in another diocese or religious order who wishes to seek a direct assignment in the Archdiocese of Baltimore may indicated his interest in such an assignment through a letter to the Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel. This letter should indicate all language abilities, ministerial history, any Archdiocese of Baltimore connections and the reasons he is seeking to minister in the United States.
  • Bishops Letter Required: Any priest who is incardinated in another diocese or religious order who wishes to seek a direct assignment in the Archdiocese of Baltimore must have their bishop or religious superior write to the Archbishop of Baltimore indicating that they are willing to have one of their priests serve in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. A letter indicating that the bishop gives permission may NOT come directly from the priest seeking ministry.
  • Assignment By Currently Serving Religious Orders Not Covered: These sections do NOT apply to religious priests who are assigned to a parish in the Archdiocese of Baltimore by their community. Their entry is governed under the agreements between their order and the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
1102.12.2  Suitability

File Required:  A complete copy of the personnel file of the priest seeking to minister in the Archdiocese of Baltimore must be sent to the Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel along with a fully completed suitability form prior to any authorization being granted for the priest to seek R-1 immigration status.

Religious Priests:  Religious priests who are exclaustrated from their order must also provide a letter of recommendation from their regional and local superior.

International Background Check:  A complete International Background check must be completed prior to accepting any International priest.

802.12.3  Contract for Services

Generally there are two types of situations involving International priests:

1) Those that are seeking to minister in the United States for a specific period of time in order to assist a particular language or cultural group; and

2) Those seeking to be considered for incardination into the Archdiocese of Baltimore. See Canons 268-272 and section 7.2.2 of the document for information about this process.


  • Time Limited Ministry: For those priests who seek to minister under (1) above, a contract must be drafted for the services of the priest prior to his arrival in the United States.
    • This contract will be between the diocese of the international priest and the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
    • The Chancellor’s office will oversee the drafting of this document so that it fully describes the terms under which the priest is permitted to stay in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
1102.12.4  Immigration Status
  • Only the Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel and the Chancellor may approve a request of a priest to apply for R-1 immigration status.
  • All priests seeking R-1 status under the sponsorship of the Archdiocese of Baltimore must use the services of the local immigration attorney designated for this purpose by the Archdiocese.
  • No employee of the Archdiocese of Baltimore may act as a sponsor for immigration purposes without the authorization of the Chancellor or the Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel.

1102.12.5  Treatment of Priests

  • The goal of offering the ministry of an International priest in a parish within the Archdiocese of Baltimore is that the people of that parish will be fully served as their language and culture may require.
    • Cooperation: It is imperative that diocesan clergy and International priests try to overcome any challenges regarding their differences in language or church practice in order to fully cooperate in the administration of the local parish.
  • International Priest – Responsibilities: It is expected that any International priest will work to improve his English and to understand and support the local culture of the parish in which he serves.
    • He must provide sacramental services in conformity with the particular law of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
    • It is the responsibility of the International priest with the assistance of the local clergy, to become acquainted with the local cultural practices.
  • Local Pastor – Responsibilities: It is the responsibility of the local pastor to oversee the ministry of the International priest and to make provision for his work among the parish staff and broader parish community.
    • The notion of parallel parishes based on language or culture should be avoided.
1102.12.6  Inculturation
  • It is the responsibility of the local clergy to assist the International priest in understanding the church culture of the Archdiocese of Baltimore including the permitted sacramental practices and financial limitations. An attitude of collaborative service between clergy is essential so that the needs of the Church community may be properly administered.


  • The Office of Clergy Personnel will seek out opportunities to assist international priests and diocesan clergy to better understand one another and to collaborate together for the good of the Church.
1102.12.7  Housing, Meals, Other Items

All international priests are entitled to the same housing, meals and continuing education opportunities as the priests of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

802.13 Military Service for Clergy
  • Priests may seek permission from the Archbishop of Baltimore to serve as chaplains in the Archdiocese of Military Services.
  • Such permissions are given for a fixed amount of time and permission may be rescinded depending on the local needs of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

1102.13.1  Pensions for Priests Who Have Served Competed Military Service

Priests who receive a pension as a result of their service in the military services should discuss their situation with the Delegate for Clergy to work out the details of their support.