1103 Compensation for Priests

The Division of Clergy Personnel


1103.1 General Principles

  • Annual List: The salary and supplementary benefits of pastors and associate pastors are determined annually by the Archbishop.
  • Who Compiles: The Priestly Life and Ministry Board recommends, through the Department of Human Resources, levels of compensation.
    • Approvals: These recommendations are given to the Presbyteral Council for affirmation and to the Archbishop for approval.
    • Special Ministries: Pastors, Administrators and those priests in Special Ministries are compensated at the level of a Pastor’s salary.
    • Associate Pastors: An associate pastor is compensated in accordance with the Associate Pastor’s salary guideline.
    • Change in Status: Once a priest receives a ‘pastor’s salary’ he continues to receive such, regardless of his future assignments.
1103.2 Salary

The base salary figures of the Priest Salary Schedule are reviewed and updated annually by the Compensation Board of the Priestly Life and Ministry Board. Please refer to Appendix 3A, which outlines how the base salary is computed.

1103.3 Mass Stipends and Stole Fees

Annual Election

In addition to his base salary, each priest has the option of:

(1) Retaining all his Mass stipends; or

(2) Turning all Mass stipends into the parish and then receiving a set additional amount per year as salary, as indicated in the annual compensation package.

This election is to be made annually and in writing.

All Offerings Must Be Counted: For those priests who choose to retain their Mass stipends (option 1), all funds collected at Masses must be counted in accordance with diocesan policy and booked through the parish accounts (including collections for Novenas, etc.) and provided to the priest so taxes may be paid to the appropriate federal and state agency.


It is earnestly recommended to priests that they celebrate Mass for the intention of the faithful, especially the needy, even if they have not received an offering. (Canon 945, §1).

  • It is the policy of the Archdiocese that the priests celebrate Mass for the intentions of the faithful, in accord with the laws of the Church.
  • Under no circumstance may a priest or deacon or parish demand an explicit offering in order that the celebration of the sacrament takes place.
    As such, the following criteria are to be noted.

  • Obligation of the Priest: A priest should accept no more intentions than he is able to fulfill within the course of the coming year (canon 953). A priest should be aware of this possible limitation on his own ability to offer Masses accordingly.
  • If he accepts an offering for an intention, he is obligated to fulfill that intention, even if the stipend is lost (canon 949).
  • Under certain conditions, such as the expressed desire of the donor, a parish may be permitted to accept intentions for longer than a one-year period of celebration (canon 954).
  • Too Many Intentions: Any and all intentions that are not able to be satisfied in the course of the upcoming year are to be sent to the office of the Moderator of the Curia to be distributed among parishes in the Archdiocese and other places to insure a timely offering of the requested Masses (Canon 956) or, upon written permission of the Archbishop, use the stipend for a particular charitable use (Canon 951).
    Obligations of a Pastor

  • Pro Popolo Mass: On Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, the pastor of a parish is responsible for offering a Mass for the people of his parish (pro populo). If he has more than one parish community or additional missions, he may say one Mass for all. If he does not offer the Mass on that day, he should do so at the earliest possible opportunity. If he is unable to personally offer the Mass, he is to see that another priest does so (Canon 534, §1- §2).
  • Limit on Stipends: A priest may accept one stipend a day for Masses offered. If he celebrates more than one Mass and there are stipended intentions for the other Masses, the stipend does not go to the priest.
    Funds Received for Masses or Stole Fees

  • Mass Offering: In the territory of the Archdiocese, the presumed amount to be applied to each Mass is $10.00 (Canon 952).
  • Donation for Unknown Number of Masses: If money is offered for the application of Masses without an indication of the number of Masses to be celebrated, the number is to be computed on the basis of the offering established in the place where the dweller resides, unless the intention of the donor is presumed legitimately to have been different (canon 950). In the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the amount per Mass would be $10.00.
  • Stole Fees: All stole fees are presumed to go to the parish fund, unless designated otherwise (Canons 531and 551). This does not include Mass stipends, but only fees given for marriages, funerals, Baptisms, blessings, or any other fee extended for sacraments or blessings.
  • Gifts for Clergy: Individuals may also give personal gifts to the cleric responsible for the service. If the intention of the donor is unclear, the recipient may clarify if the gift is to the priest or to the parish, otherwise, the presumption is the stole fee is a gift that belongs to the parish.
  • Novenas: Some parishes of the Archdiocese have retained the custom of offering novenas of Masses on the occasion of All Souls Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day with the priest(s) receiving the stipends offered for those Masses. These funds must be counted in accordance with diocesan policy and provided to the priest with appropriate tax considerations. This custom may be continued in these parishes only. However, the custom of priest(s) retaining the stipends may not be introduced to parishes that do not currently have the custom.
1103.4 Professional Expense Allowance

Each priest is entitled to an amount of funds, determined annually as part of the compensation package, which he may seek as reimbursement for incurring expenses related to the exercise of his priestly ministry.

    Such expenses might include, but are not limited to:

  • Automobile mileage
  • Education expenses
  • Clerical clothing
  • Vestments
  • Emmaus expenses
  • Retreat expenses
  • Convocation expenses; and
  • Other legitimate professional expenses incurred in the exercise of his ministry.

Documentation Required: Each priest must provide written documentation which supports his reimbursement request to the parish or institution he serves.

  • The parish or institution is responsible for retaining this documentation as part of its financial records in accordance with Archdiocesan policy regarding temporal goods. The reimbursement request is to take place on a monthly basis.
1103.5 Supplementary Benefits
    Every priest receives the following additional compensation benefits:

  • automobile insurance premium;
  • health care plan, including dental and vision care;
  • pension premium;
  • short-term disability insurance premium;
  • group life insurance premium;
  • annual physical examination allotment;
  • funeral reimbursement; and
  • FICA contribution of 7.65% of taxable income received from the parish.
1103.6 Room and Board

Every priest is entitled to adequate living arrangements normally provided by the
parish in a rectory living situation. (refer to section 1102.8)

Special Ministry: For priests in special ministry, a monthly allowance, determined annually by the Archdiocese, is considered as the value of such adequate living arrangements. This monthly allowance will be provided by the office or institution served by the priest.

Board: See Section 802.7.3 of this Policy.

1103.7 Compensation of Unassigned Priests

This policy recognizes the canonical responsibility of the bishop to support his priests financially (Canon 281) and at the same time, to act as a wise steward of diocesan finances. This policy likewise challenges the unassigned priest to assume financial responsibility for his life while not engaged in priestly service.

  • Confidentiality and pastoral sensitivity are to be maintained in the implementation of this policy.
  • As pastor of his priests, the Archbishop has the discretion to make exceptions when deemed necessary.
  • In addition to financial support, the Archdiocese will offer employment development opportunities to the individual priest at no cost.
1103.7.1 Compensation for Priests on an Involuntary Leave of Absence Beginning Level (Step 1)
    When a priest is involuntary impeded from ministry, the Archdiocese will guarantee for the first three months the following compensation:

  • Salary (as published for the current fiscal year), excluding Mass stipends;
  • FICA;
  • Health Insurance;
  • Automobile Insurance; and
  • Rectory Reimbursement at Central Services Level.
Fourth through Sixth Month (Step 2)
    During the fourth and through the sixth month, the Archdiocese will guarantee the following compensation:

  • Salary (as published for the current fiscal year);
  • FICA;
  • Health Insurance;
  • Rectory Reimbursement at Central Services Level.
Seven to Twelfth Month Leave (Step 3)
    During the seventh and through the twelfth month, the Archdiocese will guarantee the following compensation:

  • Health Insurance (HMO level);
  • A monthly living allowance equal to the Rectory Reimbursement at Central Services Level. If any particular circumstance warrants more assistance, the Office of Clergy Personnel will review the situation.
After 12 months and Regularly Thereafter (Step 4)
  • The Office of Clergy Personnel in consultation with the priest on leave, will determine the compensation and benefits which will be offered.
  • The priest may always appeal the decision to the Office of the Archbishop.
  • The Archbishop has the authority to make specific adjustments to the length of time compensation and benefits are available to the priest in keeping with the recommendations of the Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel.

1103.7.2 Unassigned Priests

Scale of Payment: A priest between assignments will be compensated at the same scale established for those on an involuntary leave of absence.

Application of Scale of Payment: However, after the priest refuses two assignments, he will be compensated beginning with Step 3 as outlined above.

1103.7.3 Compensation for Priests on a Voluntary Leave of Absence

First Three Months

When a priest voluntarily initiates a Leave of Absence, the Archdiocese will guarantee for the first three months the following compensation:

  • Salary (as published for the current fiscal year), excluding Mass stipends;
  • FICA;
  • Health Insurance;
  • Automobile Insurance;
  • Rectory Reimbursement at Central Services Level.

The Fourth Month and Beyond

After the third month and regularly thereafter, the Office of Clergy Personnel consultation with the priest on leave will determine the compensation and benefits which will be offered. The priest may always appeal the decision to the Archbishop.

Resource support for Priests who are Transitioning to a New Career

The Office of Clergy Personnel will provide support and resources to priests who need to seek alternative career and job opportunities.

1103.8 Retired Priests

1103.8.1 Age of Retirement
  • The official retirement age is 70 years. Upon reaching his 69th birthday, each priest must submit a letter of intention to the Archbishop, to be effective upon his 70th birthday. In special circumstances, the Archbishop may defer retirement.
  • Retirement from the age of 65-69 may be granted with the approval of the Priests’ Retirement Board, the Priestly Life and Ministry Board, and the Archbishop.
  • Retirement is mandatory at the age of 75. Priests who wish to serve beyond this age must apply to the Archbishop of Baltimore for position to continue and officially resign as pastor. Appointments beyond the age of 75 will be made on a yearly basis as an administrator.
1103.8.2 Priest Pension Plan
  • Each priest of the Archdiocese is required to join the Archdiocese of Baltimore Priest Pension Plan.
  • Payment of the Premium: The parish/institution pays the full premium.
  • Inclusion in the Plan: 25 years of service and membership entitles a priest to the full benefit of the plan upon retirement or upon total disability any time previous to retirement.
  • Transfer of Incardination: A priest who are incardinated after service in another diocese or religious order is eligible for payment of his pension based only on his actual years of service to the Archdiocese of Baltimore UNLESS his previous diocese or religious order has made an appropriate contribution to the Archdiocese of Baltimore pension fund on his behalf at the time of incardination into the Archdiocese of Baltimore. (this section is provisional at this time).
  • Incardination Agreement: Specific information regarding this aspect of the incardination agreement should be made known to the priest at the time he is officially incardinated into the Archdiocese of Baltimore so he may make proper plans for his retirement.
1103.8.3 Participation in Social Security System

Every priest of the Archdiocese shall belong to the Federal Social Security System.
Complete specifications on retirement are contained in the Appendix document 7: “Program and Policies for the Senior and Retired Priests of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”