At Crisis there is a thoughtful piece about fatherhood and how priests are assigned to parishes.
Permanent Assignments for Parish Priests Long Overdue
The first part of the article is a something that every young man looking forward to marriage and fatherhood should read. Seriously. Take the time.
Quite a bit long the way, after talking about fatherhood, he gets to the topic of how priests are assigned.
It is a good juxtapositioning.
I’ve long contended that the way that parish priests are assigned – as pastors – in these USA has been undermining the identity of priests and harming vocations to the priesthood. In most US dioceses – I think that is safe to say – a practice has been adopted of assigning priests for a short term, such as 6 years, with the possibility of renewing the term once for a total of twelve.
From what I’ve seen, problems follow.
- First, it takes years for a priest to figure out where everything is in a parish. Then he has to go.
- Moving priests around signals that his role is only temporary.
- The pastor doesn’t have the chance, as a father of a family would, to get to know the next generations who come along.
- Priests lack moorings for their work.
- Bishops don’t have to work things out with pastors when there is a disagreement: they can simply wait them out.
- If bishops ignore the terms they assigned and leave priests where they are for longer, a sort of double standard might be perceived.
Sure, it is necessary to move and remove certain guys, find the right match, etc. That will always be the case for obvious reasons. But the downside of sort terms is far farther down than is good for any of us.