1106 Placement of Priests

The Division of Clergy Personnel


1106.1 General Principles

  • Direct Action – The Archbishop may take direct action in making an assignment outside the usual process. In some instances, the Board may recommend such action.
  • The Priestly Life and Ministry Board recommends placements for priests in pastorate and special ministry assignments. These recommendations will be made with every effort to coordinate the abilities, preferences of the individual priest with the specific needs of a particular assignment and the needs of the Archdiocese.
  • Office of Clergy Personnel – It is the responsibility of the Office of Clergy Personnel to create and keep current a system of detailed and accurate information on priests and assignments. It is expected that each priest will cooperate with the Office by providing all information necessary for assignment purposes.
  • Parish Consultation Process – The parish staff and the members of an individual pastorate may be asked to cooperate in a Parish Consultation Process when a vacant pastorate occurs as necessary.

1106.2 Goals of the Placement Process

  • Goals – To meet the pastoral needs of the faithful of the Archdiocese by assigning the most qualified priest available to every pastoral position taking into account the personal, professional, and growth needs of all Archdiocesan priests while taking into account the needs of the Archdiocese. Openness to dialogue is essential to this process.

1106.2.1 The Placement Process

The essential elements of discernment in the placement process for a priestly assignment include:

  • Priestly Life and Ministry Board – A recommendation for change of assignment may originate with the Priestly Life and Ministry Board. A priest may be asked to consider reassignment because his qualifications correspond to a particular need or because the Board judges that a different assignment may be instrumental in increasing his competence and experience.
  • Change of Assignment or Interest in Specific Assignment – Any priest who wishes to be considered for such a change in their assignment should contact the Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel by email or telephone to discuss his interest in a specific position or in a possible future assignment.
  • Individual Priest – A priest himself may take the initiative by asking for a change of assignment. A priest should discuss his thoughts for a current or future assignment with the Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel. A priest may also ask for a personal interview with the Board to discuss his request.
  • Consultation – The Office of Clergy Personnel consults with the Vicar Bishops, the Vicar General, and other appropriate entities in fashioning its recommendation for the appointment of a priest to a particular parish or office.
  • Initial Recommendations – Initial recommendations for specific positions are made by the Placement Committee of the Priestly Life and Ministry Board:
  • Who review the overall plans for leadership in open parishes and
  • Is responsible for considering the competence and availability of a priest when making recommendations to the Board for priests’ assignments.
  • Initial Placement Committee Process – The Placement Committee receives preliminary background information from the Office staff and the Board, and then:
  • Meets outside of normally scheduled Board meetings;
  • Conducts interviews with the following: (as applicable)
  • all transitional deacons, seeking advice from their supervisors, and the Director of Vocations;
  • all associate pastors completing a term of assignment;
  • all priests requesting a change of assignment;
  • Develops a slate of assignment recommendations to be presented to the Board;
  • Reports to the Priestly Life and Ministry Board the rationale for the recommendations which are presented for finalizing all lists of assignment recommendations.
  • Final Recommendations – Finalizing Assignment Recommendations – The Priestly Life and Ministry Board is responsible for finalizing the recommendations of the Placement Committee.
  • The Priestly Life and Ministry Board:
    • Receives the report of the Placement Board and asks for clarifications where necessary;
    • Votes to approve, change, or reject those recommendations made by the Placement Committee;
    • Role of the Archbishop – The Director of Clergy Personnel presents all the Board’s recommendations to the Archbishop.
    • The Archbishop may exercise the right to make changes in the recommendations.
    • The Archbishop will review all proposed appointments before they are proposed to the individual priest to determine whether he is in agreement to the appointment.
    • Approach to Individual Priests – Individual priests are approached by the Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel regarding their openness to considering a particular assignment.
    • Individual Priest Discernment – The individual priest will do his own personal spiritual and practical discernment.

  • Process When A Priest Assignment Is Accepted:
    • Letter of Appointment – If the proposed appointment is accepted by the priest, the official appointment of an assignment is made by the Archbishop through an official letter of appointment.
    • Publication of the Appointment – The Office of Clergy Personnel staff is responsible for publication of appointments on the Archdiocesan website and in The Catholic Review after the official appointment has been accepted by the priest.
    • Installation of Pastors: Each newly appointed pastor, whether diocesan or religious, is to be installed by the Archbishop or his delegate in an appropriate liturgical ceremony at a mutually convenient date and time.

1106.3 Priest Distribution Categories:

  • Purpose: These categories are developed so that the distribution of priests of the Archdiocese can be easily viewed at one time by the Office of Clergy Personnel:
  • Active: any incardinated priest (or in the process of incardination) of the Archdiocese who enjoys full or partial faculties from the Archbishop of Baltimore and who is not officially retired.
  • Categories of Active Priests
    • Parochial Ministry:
    • Pastors
    • Associate Pastors
    • Administrators
      • Pending Incardination
      • Special Ministry (Administration) in the Archdiocese of Baltimore
      • Church Administration outside the Archdiocese
      • Chaplains: Education, Hospital, Military, Prison
      • Educational Assignment (studying)
      • Academic Assignment (teaching)
      • Other
      • Inactive: any incardinated priest of the Archdiocese who officially has no assignment within the Archdiocese or from the Archbishop of Baltimore
      • Leave of Absence
      • Voluntary Leave
      • Discernment Leave
      • Permanent Leave
      • Involuntary
      • Temporary Medical Leave
      • Retired Priests

1106.4 Pastors

1106.4.1 General Considerations
  • Pastors and Pastorates – Over the years, the experience of the Priestly Life and Ministry Board has revealed that parishes and pastorates differ widely both in their characteristics and in the responsibilities of their Pastors.
  • Uniqueness – Each pastorate has to be considered in relation to the specific demands of the particular pastorate under consideration.
  • Associates – The Board has learned that there is no one profile which describes all pastorate positions nor is there only one pattern of experience as an associate which makes a priest proficient to perform equally well in all types of pastorate positions.
  • Other Factors – Added to these different factors are the increasing demands on pastors including:
  • A renewed call to evangelization beyond the parish walls,
  • The pastoring of multiple parishes, and
  • The more complex financial and human resource management of parishes and schools.

  • The Priestly Life and Ministry Board’s objective is to match the needs of an individual parish/pastorate along with the competence and potential of an individual priest, to accomplish this the Priestly Life and Ministry Board accumulated a growing body of detailed information about parishes and priests that can be used in serving this objective.
  • Methods – Through a variety of methods, including the possible use of annual information forms, personal interviews, and direct contacts with priests the Board has become more familiar with the background, the experiences, and the individual goals of Archdiocesan priests.
  • Emphasis – The Board also emphasizes the importance of considering talents as well as length of experience in recommending candidates for appointment to pastorates.
  • The goals and methods for choosing a pastor are to conform to section 6.2 of this document.

1106.4.2 Requirements

Qualifications for All Parish and Pastorate Positions (See Appendix 4)

These qualifications are required of the pastor of any pastorate regardless of its size or location:

  • Spiritual Qualities:
  • Recognition of a priest as a man of faith who communicates his faith to others in the performance of his ministry; and
  • Ability to provide spiritual leadership which demonstrates faith in prayer as a motivating, sustaining influence.
  • Liturgical Responsibilities:
  • The ability to plan and carry out effective liturgical celebrations of the Eucharist and other sacraments in accordance with the universal and particular laws of the Church; and
  • Primary among these are the ability to prepare and deliver homilies or commentaries on Sacred Scripture that are faithful to the tradition and meaningful to the congregation.
  • Pastoral Abilities:
  • A willingness to care for people in response to their needs, especially for the sick, the poor, the distressed, the disadvantaged and the alienated;
  • Personal accessibility to people in times of stress and crisis; and
  • Ability to organize services to meet individual and community needs.
  • Growth and Development:
  • Commitment to pursue his personal, spiritual, and professional growth and development by periodic participation in continuing education programs and/or private study.
  • Education:
  • Skill and demonstrated interest in providing opportunities for religious education for all levels in the parish;
  • Provision of competent leaders and teachers for Religious Education and adult educational activities;
  • Formulation of programs which communicate faith and practice to the levels of understanding of various age groups; and
  • If there is a parochial or inter-parochial school, a strong commitment to supporting the philosophy of parochial education and to allocating resources to the school is required.
  • Leadership and Administrative Skills:
  • Ability to organize parish work and assign and supervise it in an effective manner;
  • To promote teamwork and coordinated staff effort;
  • To promote rectory living arrangements which recognize the rights and human needs of individuals;
  • To work and assist in educating associate pastors and parish lay leadership;
  • To welcome shared decision-making and to work with collegial bodies openly and responsively; and
  • To administer satisfactorily the usual management responsibilities of plant maintenance, budget planning, fund raising, etc.
  • Archdiocesan Support:
  • Willingness to support Archdiocesan goals and programs as they relate to a Pastor’s obligations;
  • Openness to participate in research and consultation processes by which the Archdiocese studies problems and arrives at recommendations for action; and
  • Openness to serving the Archdiocese as a member of an Archdiocesan committee, board or consultant.
  • Experience:
  • Years of experience as a priest or religious and service to the Church in other capacities, while important, are but a part of larger considerations in any particular appointment.

Qualifications for a Particular Pastorate

  • The requirements of the particular pastorate to be filled will be determined by the Priestly Life and Ministry Board in light of all relevant information available to it.
  • This information may be made available to the Board from:
  • Its own members,
  • The Office of Clergy Personnel staff,
  • Chancery officials, and
  • Evaluation reports of Boards appointed by the Vicars for the purpose of assessing the needs of a particular parish.
  • The Board will consider:
  • The characteristics of the pastorate,
  • Its staffing plan,
  • Programs of activities,
  • Its size,
  • The unique community conditions, etc.,
  • The experience of the priest candidate.
  • It will also consider the challenges which exist and the goals to be attained.

1106.4.4 Term of Assignment

The following policy applies to the appointment of pastors:

  • Canonical Term of Office – A pastor is appointed for a term of 6 years. Following an evaluation (Review of Ministry) and the recommendation of the Priestly Life and Ministry Board, he may be appointed for an additional 6 year term.
  • Other Circumstances: Ordinarily, the value of stability in all appointments suggests that a priest would remain in office for the entire term; however, circumstances might warrant that a full term not be served.
  • Exceptions: The Archbishop may make whatever exceptions to the above policy which he deems necessary in individual instances according to his prudential judgement.
  • First Time Pastors:
    • A priest ready to be appointed as pastor for the first time will be officially assigned as Administrator for a year prior to being appointed as a pastor.
    • After the completion of one year, the Office of Clergy Personnel may recommend to the Archbishop that the Administrator be officially appointed Pastor.
    • The Archbishop at his discretion may choose to appoint someone as Pastor at the beginning of the assignment.

1106.5 Associate Pastors

  • The Placement Board and the Priestly Life and Ministry Board shall begin working on recommendations, interviews, and consultations for associate pastors as early as possible, but not later than January.
  • All new assignments should be finalized by the first week of June with effective dates generally scheduled for July 1.
  • However, the Placement Board and the Priestly Life and Ministry Board will process assignment recommendations anytime during the year when pastoral needs require immediate action.

1106.5.1 Term of Office

  • Associate Pastors are generally assigned at the pleasure of the Archbishop (Canons 546-548).
  • Generally, a newly ordained priest will serve in two different assignments in order to gain knowledge and insight into the role of the pastor before being considered for any appointment as pastor. The Archbishop may grant exceptions to this policy at his discretion.

1106.6 Temporary Administrators

  • A Temporary Administrator is a priest who substitutes for the pastor.
  • The counsel of the Priestly Life and Ministry Board may be sought for long term appointments;
  • A Temporary Administrator is appointed by the Archbishop and is bound by the same duties as the pastor but may not innovate in any way that would prejudice the rights of the next pastor under canon law (canon 540). .

1106.6.1 Types, Guiding Principles, Duties (see Appendix 6)

1106.6.2 Salary and Benefits
  • The Administrator shall receive a pastor’s salary and benefits as specified by the Department of Human Resources.

1106.6.3 Appointment of Administrators

  • Administrators shall be appointed by the Archbishop on the advice of the Vicars and the Office of Clergy Personnel.
  • Clear Expectations Required: Before a priest is appointed as Administrator, clear expectations of him are to be defined by the Vicar and the Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel.

The Director of the Office of Clergy Personnel is to inform the Priestly Life and Ministry Board of the appointment and its rationale.