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Author Topic: what do priests do all day?  (Read 10561 times) Average Rating: 0
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arjuna3110
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« on: July 06, 2005, 11:53:00 PM »

Hi Everybody !

What do Orthodox priests do all day?  I'm referring to the parish priests, not monks.  Do most of them have outside (secular) jobs?  Or, are they busy ministering to the sick, the invalids, etc.?  Etc.  Besides Sunday liturgy, what do Orthodox priests (especially in the U.S.) actually *do* ?  Thank you for any responses.
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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2005, 12:00:12 AM »

Hi Everybody !

What do Orthodox priests do all day?ÂÂ  I'm referring to the parish priests, not monks.ÂÂ  Do most of them have outside (secular) jobs?ÂÂ  Or, are they busy ministering to the sick, the invalids, etc.?ÂÂ  Etc.ÂÂ  Besides Sunday liturgy, what do Orthodox priests (especially in the U.S.) actually *do* ?ÂÂ  Thank you for any responses.

Being a priest is a great Job. If You're a Greek Priest, you only have to work about 2 hours one day a week. Russian Priests have it a bit harder, they have to work about 45 minutes on saturday night, a as long as 3-4 hours on sunday morning, but most of them tend to survive. Wink LOL

Seriously though, it really depends on the Parish. In a large Parish the Priest tends to be an administrator, ensuring that the Parish runs as smoothly as possible, though he still has the responsibility of the Sacraments (though in the largest parishes, often that is all he has time to do; some will find a small amount of time for counciling). In smaller parishes where the administrative expectations are less demanding they may be able to spend more time counciling and tending to the various spiritual needs of their flock.
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« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2005, 12:04:28 AM »

Hi Everybody !

What do Orthodox priests do all day?  I'm referring to the parish priests, not monks.  Do most of them have outside (secular) jobs?  Or, are they busy ministering to the sick, the invalids, etc.?  Etc.  Besides Sunday liturgy, what do Orthodox priests (especially in the U.S.) actually *do* ?  Thank you for any responses.

Some priests have to take second jobs to support their families. 

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« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2005, 12:14:41 AM »

My two priests are now cab drivers (used to be roof plumbers).

They can not make enough money as Priests  to support their families (as their salary is only about A$ 200 p/w -as priests).

So, they work as cab drivers.
Their shifts are 12 hrs a day (as taxi drivers) and whilst on shift they manage to visit all of us in the parish, all of 3 jails in Perth and every hospital (there are 9 hospitals in Perth)( also do some other things that Serbian Priest has to do) and they manage to do this twice a week. Their wives do much the same.

I do not know about others, but these two I know are saints so they are their wives.



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« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2005, 12:24:51 AM »

Being a priest is a great Job. If You're a Greek Priest, you only have to work about 2 hours one day a week. Russian Priests have it a bit harder, they have to work about 45 minutes on saturday night, a as long as 3-4 hours on sunday morning, but most of them tend to survive. Wink LOL

Vigil (Vespers + Matins + 1st Hour) lasts about 3-4 hours in a traditional Russian church, 2-3 hours Sunday morning for the (3rd & 6th Hours + Divine Liturgy) In a traditional Greek church there is an hour long Vespers Saturday night and Sunday morning there is Orthros and Divine Liturgy which will last about 4-5 hours or so.

Greeks tend to pay their clergy well and Russians tend not to, requiring the priests to work outside the Church as well. Traditional priests that do not work outside the Church (and some that do) will offer services every day (Some Vespers and Matins daily while others will do the full cycle of services).
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« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2005, 12:43:34 AM »

[quote author=Νικολάος Διάκονος link=topic=6599.msg86139#msg86139 date=1120710291]
Vigil (Vespers + Matins + 1st Hour) lasts about 2.5-3.5 hours in a traditional Russian church, 2-2.5 hours Sunday morning for the (3rd & 6th Hours + Divine Liturgy) In a traditional Greek church there is an hour long Vespers Saturday night and Sunday morning there is Orthros and Divine Liturgy which will last about 2.5-3 hours or so (for Orthros and Divine Liturgy).

Greeks tend to pay their clergy well while others tend to pay less, sometimes requiring the priests to work outside the Church as well. Traditional priests that do not work outside the Church (and some that do) might even offer services every day (Some Vespers and Matins daily while others will do the full cycle of services).
[/quote]
 I corrected your typos. Wink

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« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2005, 12:48:57 AM »

I corrected your typos. Wink



I have never seen a 30 minute Orthros in a traditional Greek church. Since Divine LIturgy would take almost 2 hours, I do not see where you get 2.5 hours for Orthros and Liturgy from!

I stand by what I wrote before, based solely on my experience of course. :-)
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« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2005, 12:52:28 AM »

I have never been to a (St. John Chrysostom) liturgy that lasted longer than about 1.5 hours; even with Hours we are talking 2 hours at the most. Though I do have to admit, when I went to a liturgy in the Greek language it felt like 3-4 hours.  Grin
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« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2005, 01:06:48 AM »

St Markella's GOC: Matins at 8, liturgy at 930/945 ish, finished at 1130/12  ish.

but....vespers = 40-50 min Wink nice and short hehe

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« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2005, 01:10:16 AM »

At a feastday on Athos liturgy can easily be 3 + hours... of course this was preceded by a ten hour vigil.  Popo!
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« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2005, 01:21:38 AM »

[quote author=Νικολάος Διάκονος link=topic=6599.msg86139#msg86139 date=1120710291]
Vigil (Vespers + Matins + 1st Hour) lasts about 3-4 hours in a traditional Russian church, 2-3 hours Sunday morning for the (3rd & 6th Hours + Divine Liturgy) In a traditional Greek church there is an hour long Vespers Saturday night and Sunday morning there is Orthros and Divine Liturgy which will last about 4-5 hours or so.

Greeks tend to pay their clergy well and Russians tend not to, requiring the priests to work outside the Church as well. Traditional priests that do not work outside the Church (and some that do) will offer services every day (Some Vespers and Matins daily while others will do the full cycle of services).
[/quote]

That's right the Russians do a Vigil service taking up half the night, should have known better. As far as my time for the Greek Priest, that's the Typical American Parish, Vespers is a rarity in GOA Parishes.
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« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2005, 10:52:46 AM »

Being a priest is a great Job. If You're a Greek Priest, you only have to work about 2 hours one day a week. Russian Priests have it a bit harder, they have to work about 45 minutes on Saturday night, a as long as 3-4 hours on sunday morning, but most of them tend to survive. Wink LOL

Seriously though, it really depends on the Parish. In a large Parish the Priest tends to be an administrator, ensuring that the Parish runs as smoothly as possible, though he still has the responsibility of the Sacraments (though in the largest parishes, often that is all he has time to do; some will find a small amount of time for counseling). In smaller parishes where the administrative expectations are less demanding they may be able to spend more time counseling and tending to the various spiritual needs of their flock.

45 minutes???  for vigil???  The shortest ROCOR vigil I've ever been to is 1.5 hours.  Shortest liturgy...  well, about 1.25 hours. 
Most ROCOR priests I know have secular jobs.  My dad, who's retired as of 3 weeks ago, worked as a highschool music teacher for 20 years.  My grandfather, who's been a priest for about 35 years, worked as an engineer until retirement age. 
Some of the various secular professions of priests that I know - Truck driver, university professor, substitute teacher, talk-radio host, independent contractor, computer engineer... the list goes on and on. 
On top of having to support their own families, they spend their weekends serving vigil and liturgy, performing baptisms, marriages, "trebi." Often after or before church they administer the "church school."  They also have to act as administrator of the church.
At any random hour they can be called to the bedside of a sick or dying person.  During the week they often miss secular work for spiritual emergencies and funerals.  Their parishioners often think that they can call upon their priest at any hour for any random thing (and some things are rather ridiculous). 
Also, if the priest lives right next to the church, they can often expect random people showing up from far away asking if they could spend the night as to be able to attend church services.  This person might be a friend of a parishoner, or just someone random.  Since they live next to the church, they can also expect parishioners knocking on their door, needing to "talk to batushka."  This happens all the time, whether batushka is just sitting down for dinner, in the shower, or taking a nap.  Parishoners often invade the priest's home after services, whether the priest or his matushka want it or not. 
It's really not a bad life, but GiC got my dander up, with that statement.
Anyway, it's almost 11AM, I really should do some work around here.
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« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2005, 11:12:28 AM »

Νικολάος Διάκονος ,
I'm giving you about an hour for Orthros in my range.  In your typical American Orthodox parish (choose your jurisdiction), Liturgy will NEVER (not counting Pentecost w/ kneeling vespers or other feasts) last longer than 2 hours, usually in the 1:15 to 1:45 range.  My parish is usually around 1:45-2, but we do every litany, have long communion lines, announcements and then several commemorations (God Grant you, Memory Eternal or abbreviated Panakhida, etc.).

Ania,
I think GiC just means Great Vespers lasting 45 mins - which is a bit on the speedy side for us.  Usually closer to an hour.  I'm more surprised that you experienced a Vigil in a ROCOR parish of only 1.5 hrs!  At Holy Trinity in SF, their Sat Night Ressurection Vigil is 2 hrs flat.  They don't skip anything either.  I refer to it as "speed Vigil" (like speed dating).  They just chant and sing so fast you can't even understand it sometimes even if English is your first language!
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« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2005, 11:40:05 AM »

45 minutes???ÂÂ  for vigil???ÂÂ  The shortest ROCOR vigil I've ever been to is 1.5 hours...

I was refering to Vespers, the fact that the Russians do this strange vigil and sing about getting up for the sunrise (in the Orthros Service) just after the sun set slipped my mind.

I am aware that certain Jurisdictions expect their priests to hold secular jobs, which is quite unfortunate. The GOA, in general, does not (nor do the Antiochians, in general, though they dont support their priests quite as well as the Greeks)...most Bishops in the GOA tend to take good care of their Priests and will not send them to parishes unable to support them.
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« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2005, 11:49:09 AM »

Quote
I was refering to Vespers, the fact that the Russians do this strange vigil and sing about getting up for the sunrise (in the Orthros Service) just after the sun set slipped my mind.

Right, the Russians keep the practice of the Sabbaitic typikon which the Greeks modified in 1888.  So in other words, the Russian practice (which is also followed on Athos, in various cathedrals in Greece, and even in some parish churches on special occasions) is the older one and the Greek one a concession to weakness.  I prefer Greek practice in most regards but not here. Vigils are wonderful.

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« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2005, 11:53:52 AM »

Ania,
I think GiC just means Great Vespers lasting 45 mins - which is a bit on the speedy side for us.  Usually closer to an hour.  I'm more surprised that you experienced a Vigil in a ROCOR parish of only 1.5 hrs!  At Holy Trinity in SF, their Sat Night Ressurection Vigil is 2 hrs flat.  They don't skip anything either.  I refer to it as "speed Vigil" (like speed dating).  They just chant and sing so fast you can't even understand it sometimes even if English is your first language!
The vigil I experienced that was 1.5 hours was directed by a young friend of mine in a city I was visiting about 8 years ago.  He and his siblings partied a lot, and since he'd been directing for quite a while (his siblings sang and did the readings) they had a the "quick vigil" down to an art, so as to be able to go out for the Saturday night party scene. 
However, the last time I visited them a few months ago, vigil was closer to 2 hours... they've grown up a bit, and only 1/2 the choir was anxious to hit the strip so the readings and the singing was a bit slower.
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« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2005, 12:38:36 PM »

Right, the Russians keep the practice of the Sabbaitic typikon which the Greeks modified in 1888.ÂÂ  So in other words, the Russian practice (which is also followed on Athos, in various cathedrals in Greece, and even in some parish churches on special occasions) is the older one and the Greek one a concession to weakness.ÂÂ  I prefer Greek practice in most regards but not here. Vigils are wonderful.

Anastasios

The Vigil is fine, provided it is timed such that Morning Prayers are said, well in the Morning. As I would assume that it was not the Original intent of the Typikon of St. Sabbas that prayers written for the morning be said before even the middle of the night; and accordingly the common Greek practice at least places the prayers at times closer to when they're supposed to be (though not necessarially exactly right).
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« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2005, 01:26:13 PM »

I am aware that certain Jurisdictions expect their priests to hold secular jobs, which is quite unfortunate. The GOA, in general, does not (nor do the Antiochians, in general, though they dont support their priests quite as well as the Greeks)...most Bishops in the GOA tend to take good care of their Priests and will not send them to parishes unable to support them.

I wouldn't say "expect", but "accept" (that they may need) to have secular jobs.  The irony here, is that the jurisidictions that pay their priests less generally have a lot more services.  While you may say that the GOA Bishops "protect" their priests well, keep in mind that we are obligated under the Gospel to minister to the flock.  Refusing to send a priest because a parish or area can't pay them X$ per year is a not good enough of an excuse.  I'm thinking that this standard doesn't seem to take in varying COLA either.  Also, maybe the Bishops don't consider that a priest may be willing to work part time in order to start a mission parish. 
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« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2005, 01:30:50 PM »

The Vigil is fine, provided it is timed such that Morning Prayers are said, well in the Morning. As I would assume that it was not the Original intent of the Typikon of St. Sabbas that prayers written for the morning be said before even the middle of the night; and accordingly the common Greek practice at least places the prayers at times closer to when they're supposed to be (though not necessarially exactly right).

Russians generally do it in the evenning, and since the old custom is that the new day starts at sunset, I don't see a problem with doing it on Saturday nights.  :-)  Especially when "Ispolnim Utriniyu Malitvu..." is uttered towards the end of the service, when it's usually already dark out. 
The only time I've seen it done right(as intended)  is in Jordanville on Holy Saturday, where "Utrinya" is started at 2AM, and finishes at around 6AM, just as the sun comes up. 
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« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2005, 01:51:46 PM »

I wouldn't say "expect", but "accept" (that they may need) to have secular jobs.ÂÂ  The irony here, is that the jurisidictions that pay their priests less generally have a lot more services.ÂÂ  While you may say that the GOA Bishops "protect" their priests well, keep in mind that we are obligated under the Gospel to minister to the flock.ÂÂ  Refusing to send a priest because a parish or area can't pay them X$ per year is a not good enough of an excuse.ÂÂ  I'm thinking that this standard doesn't seem to take in varying COLA either.ÂÂ  Also, maybe the Bishops don't consider that a priest may be willing to work part time in order to start a mission parish.ÂÂ  

Cost of Living is taken into account. The standard is $40k a year plus expenses, which include such things as a housing allowance, car allowance, cell phone allowance, et cetera which can vary depending on where one lives; thus in a more rural area it may only be expected that a priest be paid $50-55k while in a large city, more money is needed to live on. Some priests are mission priests, at time supported by larger parishes, at times self-supported, but this is not expected of priests, and Bishops will generally only send priests into these conditions if the priests themselves request it; otherwise it simply is not fair to either the Priest or especially, if he is Married, his Family. If a parish wants a Priest, they are going to have to shoulder some of the burden and pay ones salary, if a Parish is unable to raise the modest amount required for a priest's salary either it is too small for a priest or the parishioners are not too concerned about getting one.
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« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2005, 01:58:00 PM »

Regarding "athonite practice" I have never seen a vigli (i.e combining Orthros, Vespers and first hour) for a normal Sunday on the Holy Mountain (although I believe the Rossikon does them, but am not positive on that even).  Vigils are done only on feastdays IME (and those last over 12 hours!). ÂÂ

Also in church time anything after sunset is the next day - on the holy mountains EVERY clock is set by this.  I.E. midnight equals sundown of the previous saturday - until you get your bearings it can be a little confusing. ÂÂ
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« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2005, 02:06:36 PM »

Cost of Living is taken into account. The standard is $40k a year plus expenses, which include such things as a housing allowance, car allowance, cell phone allowance, et cetera which can vary depending on where one lives; thus in a more rural area it may only be expected that a priest be paid $50-55k while in a large city, more money is needed to live on. Some priests are mission priests, at time supported by larger parishes, at times self-supported, but this is not expected of priests, and Bishops will generally only send priests into these conditions if the priests themselves request it; otherwise it simply is not fair to either the Priest or especially, if he is Married, his Family. If a parish wants a Priest, they are going to have to shoulder some of the burden and pay ones salary, if a Parish is unable to raise the modest amount required for a priest's salary either it is too small for a priest or the parishioners are not too concerned about getting one.

While in theory this is good, in practice, this frequently is just not possible.  I'm thinking the GOA expects most of their faithful to have high paying jobs.
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« Reply #22 on: July 08, 2005, 02:08:45 PM »

Regarding "athonite practice" I have never seen a vigli (i.e combining Orthros, Vespers and first hour) for a normal Sunday on the Holy Mountain (although I believe the Rossikon does them, but am not positive on that even).  Vigils are done only on feastdays IME (and those last over 12 hours!).

Thank you Silouan. That is what I had understood the older practice to be. Over time, since every Sunday is a feast of the Resurrection, the Russians started doing a Vigil every Saturday night and eventually the Greek State Church removed Vigils completely. Also if I recall correctly, I believe Orthros/Matins is supposed to be done before the sun has risen just like Vespers is supposed to be done after the sun sets and the Divine Liturgy done before noon.
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« Reply #23 on: July 08, 2005, 03:44:31 PM »

I wouldn't say "expect", but "accept" (that they may need) to have secular jobs.ÂÂ  The irony here, is that the jurisidictions that pay their priests less generally have a lot more services.ÂÂ  While you may say that the GOA Bishops "protect" their priests well, keep in mind that we are obligated under the Gospel to minister to the flock.ÂÂ  Refusing to send a priest because a parish or area can't pay them X$ per year is a not good enough of an excuse.ÂÂ  I'm thinking that this standard doesn't seem to take in varying COLA either.ÂÂ  Also, maybe the Bishops don't consider that a priest may be willing to work part time in order to start a mission parish.ÂÂ  

In ECUSA the difference between a "mission" and a "parish" is that the latter is self-supporting and the former is not, and therefore receives financial support from the diocese. (A "chaplaincy" is essentially a mission without a permanent congregation.) We have one semi-permanent "missionary" diocese: Navaholand isn't expected to support itself (and it can't).

When all is said and done, there is too much emphasis on self-sufficiency in ECUSA--- though this also derives from the belief/observation that parish ministry is a full-time job (and tries to become 24/7 if given any chance). On the other hand, I've heard that there is a lot of poor-mouthing in Orthodoxy, and that often enough Orthodox parishes simply aren't willing to pay a living wage.
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« Reply #24 on: July 08, 2005, 04:47:42 PM »

On the other hand, I've heard that there is a lot of poor-mouthing in Orthodoxy, and that often enough Orthodox parishes simply aren't willing to pay a living wage.


I'd say both not willing and not able happen.  The first could be termed 'sinful', while the latter is just a difficult situation.
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« Reply #25 on: July 08, 2005, 05:46:42 PM »

Wow Ania, if you confess on Saturday evening (early) it's ok to go and party?? Cheesy

I think my priest is the substitute teacher who you know.  I gotta say, I think being a priest is the hardest job in the world.  I'm thinking now, in the summer, in our non-air conditioned church, no food or water in the morning, a two hour plus Liturgy when it's 95 degrees outside, when all the socializing at coffee hour, and that's just on Sundays!!  It seems that Holy Week has to be physically more difficult than digging ditches!
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« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2005, 10:14:42 AM »

Wow Ania, if you confess on Saturday evening (early) it's ok to go and party?? Cheesy

If I'm planning to go out on a Saturday night, I don't confess.  I have to be in the correct state of mind, and it doesn't work if your already worrying where to find parking downtown and who's credit card you'll use to start a tab.  Wink
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« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2005, 09:23:09 PM »

While in theory this is good, in practice, this frequently is just not possible.ÂÂ  I'm thinking the GOA expects most of their faithful to have high paying jobs.
Have you ever been to a GOA parish? The parishioners DO have high-paying jobs!  Wink
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« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2005, 10:11:05 AM »

Cost of Living is taken into account. The standard is $40k a year plus expenses, which include such things as a housing allowance, car allowance, cell phone allowance, et cetera which can vary depending on where one lives; thus in a more rural area it may only be expected that a priest be paid $50-55k while in a large city, more money is needed to live on. Some priests are mission priests, at time supported by larger parishes, at times self-supported, but this is not expected of priests, and Bishops will generally only send priests into these conditions if the priests themselves request it; otherwise it simply is not fair to either the Priest or especially, if he is Married, his Family. If a parish wants a Priest, they are going to have to shoulder some of the burden and pay ones salary, if a Parish is unable to raise the modest amount required for a priest's salary either it is too small for a priest or the parishioners are not too concerned about getting one.

HAHAHA...  $40K???  That my friend, is wishful thinking where ROCOR priests come in.  A good parish might give you a house and gas money, and $2,000 a month.  Other parishes expect the priest to work. 
On the other hand, some priests I've seen live and minister in the most wretched conditions, and they do it with love and kindness.  They do not think of money, as they have faith in God that everything will work out, and they just keep going.  I've been amazed by some of these priests and their families, for they are generally the most cheerful open and generous people you would ever meet.
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« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2005, 12:21:10 PM »

Have you ever been to a GOA parish? The parishioners DO have high-paying jobs!ÂÂ  Wink

I've been to several...and MOST of them DO have parishioners with high paying jobs, but not all of them.  Of course, the ones that are financially better off have a higher percentage of Greeks in their congregation.  One parish I know, located in a plenty big enough town, but wasn't exactly a rich town, had a falling out.  Most of the parishoners wanted to continue the parish and were willing to put in a lot of effort to make it happen.  They contacted the Greek Bishop, but his financial demands were way more than they could afford.  Then they contacted the OCA, and they told them that yes, we'll work with you.

One year at my parish's annual food festival, during a talk on liturgical music, the speaker mentioned that Greek immigrants (as a whole or on average) are the most financially sucessful immigrant group in the country.  So, if true, then why should everyone else have to confirm to their "richness".  Are they just supposed to be SOL?
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« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2005, 01:27:56 PM »

It would be nice if we could combine the salary of GOA priests and the number of services performed by your average ROCOR priest together Smiley

I bet a lot of Slavic parishes could pay their priests more. There is poor but there is also cheap.  The two are not always linked.

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« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2005, 10:16:05 PM »

It would be nice if we could combine the salary of GOA priests and the number of services performed by your average ROCOR priest together Smiley

I bet a lot of Slavic parishes could pay their priests more. There is poor but there is also cheap.ÂÂ  The two are not always linked.

Anastasios

There are also cheap people in Greek parishes, but if they're too cheap, they dont get a priest...gives the parishioners some incentive to support the priest and the parish.
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« Reply #32 on: July 13, 2005, 12:54:33 PM »

Actually, I'm really glad that our priest lives in a nice house and has a decent car.  He built a beautiful new church in our city!  Of course there's a huge mortgage, and it was possible only through the generosity of parishioners, but still, it was a huge endeavor on his part. A priest is a chief financial officer, plumber, janitor, physchiatrist, counselor, teacher, painter, librarian, and just about anything else that the parish requires!!  And they minister to our souls and one hopes, gladdens our hearts and develops our faith.  I think our priest earns every penny and probably a lot more.  A good priest is invaluable to a parish.  Of course, so is a faithful laity that love the Church.

Btw, I've heard that in Russian villages, the priest always had his own plot of land to farm.  Anyone know if this is true?
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« Reply #33 on: July 14, 2005, 01:51:10 AM »

I just wanted to say that at the mission I attend the priest is expected to be there during the day Tuesday through Friday, so that those who want to talk or go to Confession can, write up the homily, of course! and serve Vespers on Saturday and Divine Liturgy on Sunday in addition to the numerous Feastdays when Divine Liturgy is served. Also the services at the mission I attend go from around 8:30 A.M.-12:00-:15 P.M. on Sunday and 7:00-8:00 for Vespers on Saturday.
From what I have heard many young priests in the AA have had to get part time or even full time jobs to support their families because they often end up serving at missions or struggling parishes.

I also will say that I was saddened to hear just how bad things have gotten in the GOA.
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« Reply #34 on: July 14, 2005, 10:26:51 PM »

Clergy compensation is a very difficult question in the Orthodox Church in North America. It always puzzles me that many OCA and ROCOR parishes pay their priests very little, if at all. Is it due to the poverty of the parishioners or a "mind set" about giving?  I don't know.  Having said that there is a certain mind set amongst many Orthodox that the priest should be kept humble and "poor" but he should have a degree from an Orthodox seminary, wear the finest vestments, have a presentable home, hand out lots of icons and books to potential converts (at his cost) and have nicely dressed kids and Matushka/Presbytera/Khouri. He should also not "corrupt himself" by having a secular job.

Too many priests depend upon "stole money" for their income. This is money paid to them for baptisms, funerals, house blessings, prayers, etc. Thus, in a big parish, a priest may have a
"book salary" of 25K but make another 75K (tax free) in stole money.  This goes back to practices in the "old world" which reflected certain realities under the Ottomans and rural Russian life. 

There is much we can learn from some Protestant churches in regards to clergy compensation. We should encourage tithing and parish membership and get away from our dependence upon  "dues" "candle money"  and "fee for service." 

Finally, we have to be aware that we are now facing a clergy shortage in our NA Orthodox Churches. This is a situation that will get worse as the majority of our current clergy (in all jurisdictions) are in their  50's, 60's and 70's. If we cannot ensure the future young and not so young priests of our church that they can have a reasonable and secure income (I would suggest on the "income scale" that they should be paid the same as a school teacher) we will either have to close parishes or allow "less than desirable" candidates lead and pastor our parishes.

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« Reply #35 on: July 14, 2005, 11:08:22 PM »

Fascinating.  All the posts have been fascinating, but this one seems to get to the gist of the matter.  Is it accurate for North America?  Elsewhere?


Clergy compensation is a very difficult question in the Orthodox Church in North America. It always puzzles me that many OCA and ROCOR parishes pay their priests very little, if at all. Is it due to the poverty of the parishioners or a "mind set" about giving?ÂÂ  I don't know.ÂÂ  Having said that there is a certain mind set amongst many Orthodox that the priest should be kept humble and "poor" but he should have a degree from an Orthodox seminary, wear the finest vestments, have a presentable home, hand out lots of icons and books to potential converts (at his cost) and have nicely dressed kids and Matushka/Presbytera/Khouri. He should also not "corrupt himself" by having a secular job.

Too many priests depend upon "stole money" for their income. This is money paid to them for baptisms, funerals, house blessings, prayers, etc. Thus, in a big parish, a priest may have a
"book salary" of 25K but make another 75K (tax free) in stole money.ÂÂ  This goes back to practices in the "old world" which reflected certain realities under the Ottomans and rural Russian life.ÂÂ  

There is much we can learn from some Protestant churches in regards to clergy compensation. We should encourage tithing and parish membership and get away from our dependence uponÂÂ  "dues" "candle money"ÂÂ  and "fee for service."ÂÂ  

Finally, we have to be aware that we are now facing a clergy shortage in our NA Orthodox Churches. This is a situation that will get worse as the majority of our current clergy (in all jurisdictions) are in theirÂÂ  50's, 60's and 70's. If we cannot ensure the future young and not so young priests of our church that they can have a reasonable and secure income (I would suggest on the "income scale" that they should be paid the same as a school teacher) we will either have to close parishes or allow "less than desirable" candidates lead and pastor our parishes.

Basil
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« Reply #36 on: July 15, 2005, 02:42:47 AM »

Yeah that seems to be pretty acurate. I kow that this one Romanian priest had fixed dues for each sacrament...except for liturgies and confession of course. For example, baptism was like $300, marriage were $350. I think thats not the best way because people might think that the sacraments are 'up for sale' but if thats the only means of survival what can u do?

On a similar note, in the Middle Ages, Catholic priests would charge rich families for a private Mass in their home chapels. That I think is definitely rediculous.

But in general, giving the priest a donation for the sacraments is usually done. Heck, one time I was given 30$ for serving at the altar! And I did almost nothing. I handed the priest his cross or the censer one time and made sure to turn off the "Here comes the bride" tape after the song was done lol.

Also, priests can get extra earnings by working for the Archdiocese by teaching at the seminary or running an extra program like running a food bank or youth convention which if a priest didn't do it, a lay person would be hired and payed anyways.

Right now my priest is soo busy with the building of the inside of the church and he is desperately trying to collect the funds. I've been trying to boo ka confession with him since January- but then again he does teach at the seminary twice a week and has 3 children, one in university.
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« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2005, 09:43:52 AM »

Wow, the closest thing I've heard regarding "selling" the sacraments was a letter from one OCA bishop specifically forbidding it.  If I recall correctly, the letter said that while a gift could be accepted for peforming a baptism or wedding or something similar, it could never be required as a condition for performing the service.  From what I've read, at one point that was fairly common simply because priests were not paid enough to even survive without doing that, but the letter I read was pretty clear that parishes were expected to pay their priests enough to support them.  I know that I certainly wasn't charged a fee for having my apartment blessed when I moved a couple of months ago.

And I have never heard of a priest being too busy to hear a confession.  I know that mine frequently misses events being held at parishioners' homes because he has one scheduled to hear.  That one just astounds me.
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« Reply #38 on: July 15, 2005, 10:20:03 AM »

arjuna, don't be provocative.  The conclusions your drawing are just... well, way off base. 
Orthodox priests do not sell sacraments...  It is traditional however for people who order services outside of the regularly scheduled services to give the priest a little bit of money. This tradition is very old.  It is pretty much a donation.  There SHOULD BE NO SET PRICE!!!  Actually, what am I thinking, THERE IS NO PRICE!
Timos, the idea of a priest charging for a marriage is ridiculous (Please note I come from a family that is currently in its 5th generation of priests).  It is a sacrament and therefore has no price.  If the couple feels that they can afford to give the priest some money for performing the service, it should be up to them.  What next, charging for confession?  Communion for the dying?  The very thought.... egggh.... 
I have no problem giving my priest money for blessing my car, or doing a panihida or molebin for me... after all, rather than going to have lunch with his parishioners and enjoying himself after a long morning of liturgy and prayers, he is spending another 1/2 an hour praying specifically for me and mine.  Often, priests have at least 10 - 15 people waiting for him after services to request various prayer services.  They do not finish for several hours usually.  By this time, they are hungry, thirsty, and very often, their feet hurt after 4-5 hours of standing.  They are missing out on their own family life to be there with us in our prayers.  I know that priests are supposed to make sacrifices, but there is no reason why their parishioners couldn't make it a little easier, monetarily, at least.
Priests also often have to drive long distances, spending their own gas money.  Parishoners often feed them and give them a little something that will reimburse them. 
I know a matushka who jokes that the hour long drives to the hospitals to visit sick parishioners have become "dates" for her and her batushka, as they have such little time to spend with each other otherwise. 
So priests can be unscrupulous and demand money.  I've heard of a few stories in Russia of priests demanding money for absolution and other sacraments, which is of course outrageous.  These men should be reprimanded if not defrocked. 
Luckily, the priests I ask to do services for me are not such men, and actually, knowing that my sister an I are on the rather less-affluent side of things, refuse to take money from us. 


BTW... while doing spellcheck for this, the correct spelling for "panihida" was suggested to be "pinhead."  LOL  (okay, so maybe not so funny, but whatever). 
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« Reply #39 on: July 15, 2005, 10:20:51 AM »

If you have a problem with a priest, tell the priest's bishop. Getting indignant on an internet forum is not only presumptuous, it's probably against the canons.
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« Reply #40 on: July 15, 2005, 10:41:50 AM »


And I have never heard of a priest being too busy to hear a confession.  I know that mine frequently misses events being held at parishioner's homes because he has one scheduled to hear.  That one just astounds me.

I gotta agree with you...  If you mean by confession a long drawn out discussion regarding your life, your spiritual well-being, etc... well, obviously that would take a while and the priest might have you wait a week or two to talk to you about it, if he has a very busy schedule, and perceives that you are not on the verge of a nervous breakdown or whatever... 
However, just to confess and receive absolution for your sins... You should be able to do that every Saturday and Sunday.  I've even seen my uncle hear confessions over the phone if the parishoner is far away on travel or a meeting time is just not possible.
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« Reply #41 on: July 15, 2005, 11:01:20 AM »

Quote
So, Orthodox priests not only make money from selling sacraments; they also make money from sellintg their ministries?

I'd be very cautious regarding your future posts on this topic.

I know of two priests (both in the 'money hungry' and very much maligned in this site GOA, btw) who *never* accept any donations. If the parishioner insists on donating anything, the money goes to assist the poor.

Your blanket condemnation of Orthodox priests is unworthy of you.
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« Reply #42 on: July 15, 2005, 11:56:48 AM »

I know of two priests (both in the 'money hungry' and very much maligned in this site GOA, btw) who *never* accept any donations.

I wouldn't go that far.  The priest at the GOA parish closest to mine is a very good priest - he even drove up to do a weekly vespers for St. Herman when our priest was ill.  As far as the money issue from before, I think the point of many of us here have against the GOA regarding $$ is that the benefit of them having wealthier parishoners can backfire on them at times - especially when it comes to evangelism (as in my prior anecdote).

Back to the original subject....I visited a Serbian parish a year or so ago that listed "prices" for sacraments and other events (e.g. renting out the hall for an event).  There was both a "member" and "non-member" price.  I think this ment tithing-official-parish-member vs random Orthodox not necessarily associated with the parish.  Still, I think these were listed as "suggested" donation amounts.
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« Reply #43 on: July 15, 2005, 12:51:46 PM »

A priest cannot 'charge' for any sacrament, that is simony. But there are some services that are not sacramental that can be charged for. An example is that though there can be no charge for the preforming of the Sacrament of Marriage, the Archdiocese is justified in Charging for processing paperwork related to a Marriage to offset their costs, that is an administrative, and not sacramental, element of the Church. Something else I've seen is Cathedrals Charging non-parishioners to use their facilities for a Marriage. They're not charging for the Sacrament, because the people could get married in their Own Church for free, but if they'd rather be married in the Cathedral they have to pay to offset the costs of the parish.
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« Reply #44 on: July 15, 2005, 01:01:58 PM »

Your blanket condemnation of Orthodox priests is unworthy of you.

I didn't condemn; I asked.  I started this thread to find out what Orthodox priests actually do all day, and especially to find out how they make a living because I have heard that they are poorly paid.  Well, in response, two people posted that Orthodox priests essentially charged prices for sacraments and ministries as a way to support themselves.  I wanted to know if that was true.  I asked. You and others responded and said no.


arjuna, don't be provocative. The conclusions your drawing are just... well, way off base.

Well, thank you for correcting me.

It seems that I offended you, perhaps that I insulted you.  For that, I apologize to all of you; that was not my intent;  and I must have been really sloppy in how I wrote; and I am genuinely sorry for causing offense.

Howerver, I have no apology to make for the conclusions I drew from others' posts and the questions I asked to ask for clarification. ÂÂ  I asked to learn. ÂÂ And, I have learned. ÂÂ I have learned three things: ÂÂ (1) that simony is not widespread but (2) accepting voluntary donations is acceptable and (3) you are and others are offended either by raising the issue or by how I wrote in raising the issue. ÂÂ And that third point is most useful of all for me to learn.


And I have never heard of a priest being too busy to hear a confession. I know that mine frequently misses events being held at parishioners' homes because he has one scheduled to hear. That one just astounds me.

And that was why I was astounded and reacted the way I did. But, I reacted emotionally in public about that, and that was a mistake.  For that and any offense I caused, I also apologize.










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