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Author Topic: what do priests do all day?  (Read 11022 times) Average Rating: 0
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FrChris
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Holy Father Patrick, thank you for your help!


« Reply #45 on: July 15, 2005, 01:21:41 PM »

Quote
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).

In general, I agree that sometimes there is a backfire effect of having wealthy parishioners within the GOA.

However, I provided the examples of those two priests to show that there are those clergy within the GOA who are picking up this cross and carrying it. I'm sure that if I know of two priests who will refuse any donations, then there are likely more---after all, there are 900 priests or so in the GOA.

The fact is, there are Orthodox priests who may like donations, some who depend on them, and some who donate the donations. The range of behavior will vary and readers of this thread need to be reminded of this.
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« Reply #46 on: July 15, 2005, 02:25:13 PM »


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.   I asked to learn.  And, I have learned.  I have learned three things:  (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.  And that third point is most useful of all for me to learn.


I probably should stop posting before 12 noon... which is when my brain really wakes up.   Smiley  your question does seem still to be a little contrary, and you could have probably written it better, but I wrote something back with a slightly nasty tone, and I shouldn't have. 

Time for lunch!
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« Reply #47 on: July 15, 2005, 04:52:12 PM »

Greek Christian, Ania, Chris and the others, thank you for your responses.

Yet, amidst me causing offense (for which I apologize again), there is a real issue which I would like to address.  So, let me ask the question here again (and I wish that I had worded it this way the previous time).

And, to avoid causing another round of offense, here are my Disclaimers: 

* Please do not read any "tone" into what I am about to ask; there is no tone in this post, there is only inquiry. 

* Also, some have already responded to this question, so I would like to hear from other voices as well. 

* And, I realize that I am a guest here, so I apologize in advance if this question might cause offense; and I thank you for being willing to entertain the question. 

* My purpose in asking is to learn about the Orthodox Church before I make the decision whether to start the conversion process; hence, I need to ask candid questions, and I hope I can ask them here and receive candid responses.  Please understand, being a Catholic and enduring the pedophile-priest scandal has made me both cynical and unsurprised by bad conduct by clergy; nevertheless, I know that most clergy (Catholic, Orthodox, etc.) are good people who are genuinely trying to serve God and the neighbor.

* So, I'm just asking a question here; and if the answer is no, I will be glad.

Disclaimers stated, here is my question:

Do Orthodox priests in North America support themselves by simony? 

And, here are the follow-up questions: 

Are the voluntary and customary donations to Orthodox priests for sacraments truly voluntary?

and

Do priests end up supporting themselves mostly or substantially from these voluntary donations?

and, finally,

One of the previous posts suggested that many parishes want their priests at little cost and they want their priests not to work outside jobs; hence, some priests rely upon voluntary donations as a real source of their income.  Regarding Orthodox priests in North America:  is that accurate and, if yes, how common is it ?

Thank you for any responses.
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« Reply #48 on: July 15, 2005, 05:46:48 PM »

Arjuna,

You are a good fellow:) Thanks for rephrasing.

While we in Orthodoxy like to gossip and speak in generalities as much as anyone else, which is where I think a lot of our comments come from, I will answer your questions as frankly and clearly as I can based only upon the situations of the priests that I know, which includes family.

No priest that I have known to the extent that I had an idea of their financial situation (either through talking to them or through my family contacts discussing such issues) has been seriously short of salary. None has ever sold sacraments or worked through simony. For baptisms, weddings, etc, at times, when people wanted a certain priest (good friend or family connections) to perform said sacraments, they paid travel expenses and gave them a monetary gift for making the journey when there was a perfectly good priest around already. This could hardly be said to be a real source of support for priests. There may also be a charge for using church spaces, though I am less sure of these charges. Such fees would go into a church's general budget and could, conceivably, end up being the priest's salary.

So, no, I do not know of any cases of voluntary (and definitely not mandatory) costs associated with priestly work, excepting situations where mission parishes pays a priest from another parish *per* service, since they do not have a priest to support and he is serving them part time...

I'm sure there are some priests who work jobs apart from their parishes. More likely, I believe, is that their Matushkas work, becoming a two income family very similar to most of America's families. When a priest is compelled to work another job, from my experience (of hearing pure talk), they are at small parishes with few parishioners, where the priestly role is not really full time because of the lack of parishioners, and they also cannot pay more, being few and ususally aged.

I hope that clarifies things a little bit. Really, if you ask a priest about this sort of issue, he's likely to be frank about any problems--we want any bad situations to improve, obviously, and the best way to do that is to make people aware of their obligations.
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« Reply #49 on: July 15, 2005, 07:16:57 PM »

Do Orthodox priests in North America support themselves by simony? 

No.  As has been stated, there is no fixed, mandatory price for ecclesiastical services.  This would be the only thing that fits simony, and I've never heard of it happening.  So, barring the occassional wacko, I think I can safely repeat myself and say no.

Are the voluntary and customary donations to Orthodox priests for sacraments truly voluntary?

Yep.  Since they're not mandatory, they're voluntary.  Now, there might be a custom of doing so, but you'll never hear of anything from the actual clergy demanding something like this be upheld.

Do priests end up supporting themselves mostly or substantially from these voluntary donations?

As has been said, it depends on the parish and how much priests in jurisdiction x actually get paid for their salary.  Some parishes have well-to-do members who pay quite a lot for these sorts of things, so the priest has grown accustomed to expecting x amount of dollars from family x every year.  Doesn't mean he demands it, nor does he expect other, less well-off (or even as-well-off or more-well-off) parishoners to do the same.  It's just a gift of gratitude for a spiritual blessing.  Or at least, that's the ideal which, to my knowledge, is also the rule.

One of the previous posts suggested that many parishes want their priests at little cost and they want their priests not to work outside jobs; hence, some priests rely upon voluntary donations as a real source of their income.  Regarding Orthodox priests in North America:  is that accurate and, if yes, how common is it ?

I don't know about many; I've sure never heard of this.  It may very well be, and, if the word voluntary stays firmly in place, I don't see what's wrong with that.  It's certainly not simony; rather it's the parishoners valuing an "undistracted" priest so much that they're willing to dig in and foot some of the necessary bills for him.

Hope this has helped.
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« Reply #50 on: July 15, 2005, 11:43:48 PM »


Wow, I haven't checked back this post since yesterday when I posted it. OK I got osme explaining to do.

OK my priest is desperately trying to get the funds collected for the church building because if he doesn't get it in something horrible like the building itself would be taken away or the contracters would not do anything else on the building which needs the roof fixing- it had lots of holes- so durign liturgy the roof would be sopping wet and its just not approrpriate.

As to the confession, my priest offered me a number of times when I (again I) did not have the time to go that day because of exams, travelling, etc. It's solely my fault and not my priest's. He didn't have the time to do the confession right when I wanted it and that is not fair for him either.

Quote
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.

As for the extra money, I never said my priest sells the sacraments. I stated that I kenw some Romanian and Serbian priests who did this practise. And that is wrong.

Also I checked back with my priest and he does not get paid for doing things like soup kitchen or youth work. He does do those things but he does not get paid. I don't know why I said that- I thought that he might get some money to do so as part of his ministry as a priest.

My priest however does get offered payment from the Orthodox seminary here. Arjuna, I apolagize for showing my priest in a negative light but this is just not how he is. He opened his home to a teen a few years ago to live with him full time and he fully supports this teen who is now in university.

My priest is willing to give me confession and on numerous occassions have talked to him about my problems on the phone for hours and he didn't complain once. He is a great shepherd but these two weeks have been rough for him.

The reason I haven't had confession with him is my fault and choice. I asked him a couple times and often I would call ahead and tell him I just can't make it that day. For now I am having confession with the priest at the monastery (who is away now too).

I am not an airhead. If I thought for one second that my priest was avoiding me I wouldn't cal lhim every week to talk to him on the phone when he can't meet me in person. My priest is a God-fearing and hard-working shepherd.

No Jim Bakker here my friends,
                                           Timos


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« Reply #51 on: July 15, 2005, 11:53:43 PM »

I also wanted to make clear that any and every donation made for baptisms or weddings is just that. He does NOT and CANNOT do such a thing. Our bishop would be up the wall and I'm not so sure my priest would be a priest any longer- plus he would not do such a thing. Often him and his wife have given us free books or even free expenisve tickets to orthodox speakers where food and drinks were included.

Sorry for being very vague in my post!

Christ be with us all,
                             Timos
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FrChris
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« Reply #52 on: July 16, 2005, 12:37:39 AM »

OK; I got back from work and let me see if I can put in my $0.02 without embarassing myself any further through my passions.

Quote
Do Orthodox priests in North America support themselves by simony?

I directly know of no instances where any Orthodox priests support themselves by simony.

Quote
Do priests end up supporting themselves mostly or substantially from these voluntary donations?

Mostly?--meaning 50.1% or greater of their income? Not to my knowledge.
Substantially? Not that I know of. From my experience, the donations have ranged from a koulouria (it was baked by a little girl for the priest to thank him for baptizing her little brother) to a three figure sum for a wedding. Realistically, the figures are not that large for a priest to 'count' on, and any donations (if retained by the priest) are seen as 'mad money'.

However, to be fair, my experience has largely been that of the GOA, which probably everyone here will agree tends to keep their priests financially comfortable. Perhaps some other jurisdictions may have priests where donations are a substantial part of the priest's income. However, from the non-GOA priests I have served with this is not due to the priest engaging in simony but is from a parishioner wanting to show their priest how much they care for him.

Besides, not wanting to sound Clinton-esque---but what do you consider 'substantial'?
Quote
One of the previous posts suggested that many parishes want their priests at little cost and they want their priests not to work outside jobs; hence, some priests rely upon voluntary donations as a real source of their income. Regarding Orthodox priests in North America: is that accurate and, if yes, how common is it ?

Again, my experience within the GOA is that voluntary donations are not counted upon as their income. However, this is specific to the GOA yada, yada, yada...

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

Fuhgeddabowdit....and please forgive me as well.
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« Reply #53 on: July 16, 2005, 09:26:15 AM »

 Smiley

God bless you all for your responses.  Thank you.
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« Reply #54 on: July 17, 2005, 01:19:06 AM »

Okay, so I'm probably going to get kicked out of the Stone Cutters for telling y'all this, but they make sweet and sour pickles.  That's what they do.  ALL DAY. 
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« Reply #55 on: July 17, 2005, 10:35:07 AM »

Just remembered a pretty cute story regarding parishoner donations...

Years ago when we were still living in California, (at least 23 years a go, in other words), my father, who was a deacon in San Francisco, drove around many of the older clergy.  There was one priest, I believe his name was Fr. Konstantin, probably in his 70s already, who asked my father to take him to a car dealership.  My father was rather surprised, considering he hadn't even known Fr. Konstantin could drive, but agreed to take him. 
Fr. Konstantin took a long time choosing a car, and finally decided on a brand-spankin'-new bright blue Chevy Nova.
The salesman asked then "Would you like us to start the paperwork for your payment plan?"
Fr. Konstantin said "No, I pay now!"
Surprised, the salesman said, "Well, you can make the check out too..."
Fr. Konstantin said "No, I pay cash!"
My father suddenly noticed that Fr. Konstantin had brought a small beat-up leather briefcase.  The old priest opened it up, and inside were $5's, $10's, and $20's...  wrapped up in bundles with aluminum foil.  The secretaries and the salesmen at the dealership spent the next 2 hours counting and recounting it to make sure it was right. 
Right before Fr. Konstantin drove his new Chevy Nova off the lot, my dad, curiosity finally getting the better of him, asked where it all came from.
Fr. Konstantin explained that this money was donations from all the molebni, ponihidi, funerals, weddings he had done.  My dad asked how long it took him to save it all up. 
Approximately 15 years. 

(It took him 15 years to get enough money to buy a car from taking donations...  This is someone who served every day, and was available 24-7 to his parishioners...  no, priests don't live off these donations by any means).
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« Reply #56 on: July 17, 2005, 06:22:44 PM »

There's a little box on the candle stand that says "For the Priest."  It's locked, with a slit on the top.  I always forget that's its there, but I hope others don't!
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« Reply #57 on: August 08, 2005, 03:50:22 PM »

Just wondering: to what degree does the eparchy get involved in covering the priest's insurance, room and board, etc?ÂÂ  Is the eparchy a central distribution center with funds collected at the parish level?ÂÂ  

I know that in the Latin Rite (at least in the United States) the dioceses are heavily involved in making sure that all the priests have certain health coverage and a fixed stipend upon which they can live.ÂÂ  Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems that most Catholic priests of the Latin Rite (even those in poorer areas) are paid well enough or they have enough benefits that they don't need to have to get a second job.ÂÂ  I'm not boasting about this, but I wonder if it's because of a more equitable distribution of wages, fostered by the diocese.ÂÂ  I believe that Glenmary, the Catholic group I mentioned in another post, is active in obtaining funds from richer dioceses and parishes for poorer ones.ÂÂ  

Is there anything in Orthodoxy to make sure that priests aren't paid too much or too little???ÂÂ  Does wage difference cause tension between Russian priests and Greek priests?ÂÂ  

Does that possibility that the average Catholic parish has a larger number of parishoners than does the average Orthodox church have anything to do with wage problem with some Orthodox priests?ÂÂ  

Doe the cost of supporting a wife and children play a huge factor? 

Thanks!ÂÂ  Smiley
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« Reply #58 on: August 08, 2005, 04:36:22 PM »

Those are all part of it...Wife and kids certainly cost more than just a single man...there are only 6 million (or less) in the USA and parishes are much smaller than Catholic parishes, the separation caused by jurisdictions in the US splits up our resources, parishes may be poor, elderly, etc, and the Catholic Church is hugely more rich than Orthodox in the USA.

Here's a question and answer about wages for priests from OCA clergy...Blunt and realistic, even if the situation the questioner talks about isn't the standard.

"If modern American Orthodoxy wishes to maintain the tradition of a married priesthood then why doesn't it pay its priests enough to support their families. I understand that many Orthodox priests are forced to take second jobs in order to support themselves.

I would imagine that this destroys their spiritual lives and causes them to serve two masters. This seems to be wrong to me. Shouldn't the OCA and other American Orthodox jurisdictions pay their clergy enough to support their families? My friend met an OCA priest who works two jobs just to support his family because his salary as a priest cannot support his family.

Orthodoxy has to consider the realities of modern life. This is scandalous.


ANSWER:

For many, many years, the OCA has had a clergy compensation guideline in place. In short, it asks that parishes pay their priests at the same rate that a professional of his particular stature, education, and experience would receive in their respective communities. It also requests parishes to give their priests annual raises as well as cost-of-living increases based on the Consumer Price Index. Further, virtually every diocese of the Orthodox Church in America has compensation guidelines which compliment those issued by the Central Church Administration.

It is only my opinion, but the problem does not necessarily lie with the hierarchs, the Central Church Administration, or the dioceses. They have done a stellar job in promoting fair and adequate compensation of our clergy. The problem is that many parishes choose not to comply, for a variety of reasons, some valid, others ridiculous.

I will give you a few examples.

In one parish with which I am familiar, a building program was initiated. The parish, which had a reported membership of over 500 souls a decade ago, today reports less than 200 adult members. A $2.5 million building program was put into place; the parish council decided to reduce the priest's salary by several thousand dollars per year as a result!! Despite the protests of the bishop and the priest, the parish insisted on reducing his salary. The priest was forced to seek part time employment as a result. Of course, the parishioners then began to complain that the priest is not devoting his full energies to the parish! There have been those who feel that the bishop should "pull the priest out" of the parish because of the parish's actions, but this would only harm the priest more, not to mention the toll it would take on his children.

I know of another parish which has suffered greatly because people have moved on to other parts of the country. The parish has dwindled to some 60 members -- a decade ago it had a reported membership three times this number. Most of the remaining members are elderly, and most are retired and on fixed income. [It is not a very affluent area.] This remnant must bear the burden of rising utility bills and other expenses, not to mention maintenance and repairs to an aging and deteriorating 80-year-old building, which cannot be overlooked. [Repairs to the roof are the same, regardless of whether there are 20 or 2000 parishioners.] Faced with a dwindling membership, increasing expenses, and an dilapidated edifice, it becomes very difficult to offer the priest an appropriate stipend in this case. Recommendations to merge with a neighboring parish have been met with sharp resistance on the part of the faithful, even though the bishop in whose diocese the parish exists most wisely sees this as a viable option for all concerned and a way of offering his priest a fair salary.

I know of another instance in which three OCA parishes exist within 10 minutes of each other. The total adult membership of these three parishes is less than 200. Each parish supports a church and hall. Two of the three also own rectories. Each parish has its own priest, and these priests are receiving relatively low salaries. Suggestions to merge these parishes and to pool resources -- it is in many respects impractical for three small, struggling parishes to support three facilities and three clergy when the combined membership is still relatively small -- also have been traditionally met with sharp resistance on the part of the parishioners, and each of the three parishes continues to struggle financially. This dilemma, unfortunately, is then passed on to the priests in these three parishes.

I know of another parish which has gone through several priests in 15 years. Often, when a new priest is assigned, the parish sees an opportunity to reduce the salary, paying the new priest less than his predecessor had been paid. Repeated attempts on the part of the bishop and dean to rectify this situation have been ignored, although the parish finally, just last year, increased the pastor's salary by $300 per month, bringing it in line with what was being paid several years ago. The priest, however, has over 30 years of experience and is making significantly less than he would if he were in the secular world. Because the parish does not own a rectory, he also has to own his own home.

Despite the increase, he still has to rely on outside employment as a teacher and chaplain.

The OCA, as I mentioned earlier, has what are, in my opinion, excellent guidelines. But excellent guidelines are meaningless if the faithful are unwilling to follow them. And I know of no instances, at least within my limited experience, in which bishops and deans have not pushed their parishes to comply with the guidelines set down by the OCA and the dioceses.

There are some parishes which I suppose may be just plain "cheap." There are others which, through no fault of their own, have dwindled significantly, often because they exist in communities which have experienced tremendous downward turns in population. There are still others -- fortunately few -- who still "shop around" for the "best deal" when looking for a priest. [One parish I know of always prefers to have unmarried clergy because, as they often say, "it costs us a lot less than a priest with kids."] No two situations are alike; hence, there may be no uniform solution other than to follow as honestly as possible the guidelines that are -- and have been -- in place.

I agree wholeheartedly that the plight of many clergy is indeed scandalous, but until such time as solutions can be found to the plethora of difficult situations which exist, little can be done. The Holy Synod, the Central Church Administration, and the local dioceses have been "on top of the matter" for years, as evidenced in the existence of compensation guidelines of which parishes are always being reminded. Annual reminders are sent by the OCA Chancellor's office to all parishes, begging them to increase and upgrade salary and benefit packages at annual meetings.

The bottom line, however, comes in the response on the local level, by the individual parishes. This is where change must and, hopefully, will occur.



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« Reply #59 on: August 08, 2005, 04:58:15 PM »

The Bishops do share responsibility for these problems, standards should be maintained, and if a Parish doesn't meet them, a priest should not be sent. If the parish does not pay the salary they either are not all that concerned about having a priest or they are too small to warrent sending a full time priest; perhaps they could pay half a priest's salary and share a priest with another parish that can only pay half the standard salary or have a retired priest or second priest from a larger parish sent on sundays for a decreased amount. The best solution would be to get rid of parish councils and allow the Bishops to more directly manage the affairs and money of the parishes under his omophorion, but until we can solve the greater problem of parish councils there are temporary solutions to the problem of underpaid clergy in every Jurisdiction.
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« Reply #60 on: August 08, 2005, 06:52:21 PM »

The Bishops do share responsibility for these problems, standards should be maintained, and if a Parish doesn't meet them, a priest should not be sent. If the parish does not pay the salary they either are not all that concerned about having a priest or they are too small to warrent sending a full time priest; perhaps they could pay half a priest's salary and share a priest with another parish that can only pay half the standard salary or have a retired priest or second priest from a larger parish sent on sundays for a decreased amount. The best solution would be to get rid of parish councils and allow the Bishops to more directly manage the affairs and money of the parishes under his omophorion, but until we can solve the greater problem of parish councils there are temporary solutions to the problem of underpaid clergy in every Jurisdiction.

While fine in theory, as I said in a prior thread a while ago, I think this response is rather lacking.  You keep saying "sent" - as if the priest wasn't at the parish yet.  Usually they are all ready there!  What is the Bishop to do - pull the priest away?  Then how does the priest support himself?  In some of those cases where there are several close to each other, I definite agree with the case of an ultimatum of merging with another or settling for a part timer/retired. 

If the parish does not pay the salary they either are not all that concerned about having a priest or they are too small to warrent sending a full time priest
This is just too simplistic.  IMO, your thinking is skewed by your experience of having wealthy Greek benefactors/parishoners.  Are you now going to say that "too small" is bigger for some parishes/missions then others?
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« Reply #61 on: August 09, 2005, 03:38:14 PM »

The best solution would be to get rid of parish councils and allow the Bishops to more directly manage the affairs and money of the parishes under his omophorion.

I like this solution (says the man who has sat in on a year's worth of parish council meetings at a financially struggling parish and who couldn't be paid enough to join one).

-Philip.
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« Reply #62 on: August 10, 2005, 08:13:32 AM »

I remember what one monk told me, many years ago...the prayer of the parish council..."Lord, send us a poor and humble priest.  You keep him humble.  We'll keep him poor."  How many would argue on what wages should be given to Jesus, if He were to minister to a parish?  "After all He's God...what does He need money for?"

"The laborer is worthy of his hire."
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« Reply #63 on: August 12, 2005, 03:03:12 PM »

This is just too simplistic.ÂÂ  IMO, your thinking is skewed by your experience of having wealthy Greek benefactors/parishoners.ÂÂ  Are you now going to say that "too small" is bigger for some parishes/missions then others?

Truth be told, my thinking is probably skewed by my experience in protestant parishes, where a parish of 50 people (20 families) somehow manages to pay their minister a living wage and still keep the lights on (this is far from an uncommon occurance). But realistically speaking, if a parish cannot afford a priest, then either it is too small to send one or the parish is large enough to have a priest, but the parishoners are not concerned enough about having a priest to give enough to support one; if everyone gave the 10% that is technically expected of them, 20 families should generally be enough to support a parish and priest (even by the Standards of the GOA), even in most depressed regions.
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« Reply #64 on: August 13, 2005, 02:14:51 AM »

if everyone gave the 10% that is technically expected of them,
That's probably one of the biggest "If's" I've ever heard in the Orthodox world. 

20 families should generally be enough to support a parish and priest (even by the Standards of the GOA), even in most depressed regions.
What does this supposed to mean?  I hear everyone say this.  By what I THINK it is supposed to mean, single male me is a "family" just like John & Mary and their 5 kids.

At face value, sure, your statements are perfectly valid, but reality and what we are commanded to do don't jive.  If you took all the parishes that "shouldn't" have a full time priest and made said priest part time and have to share parishes (at least in the OCA and probably other Archdioceses), we would go from a drought to a huge surplus of priests.
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« Reply #65 on: August 13, 2005, 03:15:59 AM »

Of those 20 families at least a few will be in finicial hardship and can't give money to the church, other will be only able to give a limited amount...while others will be at the stage where they only come to church on Sundays, giving a nominal amount - but just are starting out spiritually so aren't ready to really commit much of their lives to the church.  So that leaves maybe 5 families that can and will give their 10%. 
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« Reply #66 on: August 13, 2005, 03:32:39 AM »

People are often quick to point out the difficulities of having an established Church; but here is one of many instances in which it certainly helps things. But that aside, I believe our difficulity here is that we're trying to deal with a symptom, while ignoring the true problem, Parish Councils that are less than completely obedient to their Bishop. The real beginning to a solution for this problem is to undermine the current system of Parish Councils; the Antiochians, I must say, have made a good start at this...an example that the other Jurisdictions in this country would be wise to follow.
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« Reply #67 on: August 13, 2005, 03:41:56 AM »

Hey now, we actaully agree that parish councils have run WILD in the GOA.  But the problem isn't solely the parish council's fault.  People that make large gifts to the Church tend to have their ideas implemented (with episcopal blessings!) that aren't entirely Orthodox.  Even within the GOA, Metr. Isaiah of Denver has taken a pretty strong stance against parish councils that try to dominate a priest - siga siga. 
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« Reply #68 on: August 19, 2005, 12:43:56 PM »

Also, if missions are going to grow, they need a priest.  We do want the Church to spread, do we not, especially into areas where Orthodoxy doesn't presently have any churches?  Priests who will be serving missions in the Diocese of the West in the OCA are pretty much told that if they serve in a mission, they will need to work a secular job in order to support their families.  Luckily, there are some priests who do have a vision and heart for missions and evangelization and are willing to do this.  I don't seem to remember the Apostles demanding that they or the persons whom they sent to evangelize and start churches that the people be able to pay them a full salary before they would send them.
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« Reply #69 on: August 19, 2005, 01:16:30 PM »

The real beginning to a solution for this problem is to undermine the current system of Parish Councils; the Antiochians, I must say, have made a good start at this...an example that the other Jurisdictions in this country would be wise to follow.

Could you elaborate on what the Antiochians are doing?  All I know is that the (Antiochian) parish (former EOC) I grew up in recently FORMED a parish council a few years ago.  But they are a reasonably wealthy parish (compared to the average I'm guessing).  They're problems are more with their building situation - they have land and building plans, but local politics won't let them build!
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« Reply #70 on: August 19, 2005, 01:35:12 PM »

Could you elaborate on what the Antiochians are doing?ÂÂ  All I know is that the (Antiochian) parish (former EOC) I grew up in recently FORMED a parish council a few years ago.ÂÂ  But they are a reasonably wealthy parish (compared to the average I'm guessing).ÂÂ  They're problems are more with their building situation - they have land and building plans, but local politics won't let them build!

Though I am not intimately familiar with all the Antiochians have done, I know one substantial step they made was to make the Priest the President of the Parish Council, thus allowing him to control the agenda, as well as 'veto' any decisions of the parish council. Technically the parish council is an advisory committee in any parish, but the Antiochains have made steps to ensure that they do not go beyond their bounds.
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« Reply #71 on: August 19, 2005, 01:58:50 PM »

Though I am not intimately familiar with all the Antiochians have done, I know one substantial step they made was to make the Priest the President of the Parish Council, thus allowing him to control the agenda, as well as 'veto' any decisions of the parish council. Technically the parish council is an advisory committee in any parish, but the Antiochains have made steps to ensure that they do not go beyond their bounds.

This is how it is at my (OCA) parish.  I thought this was the norm, but maybe we're more the exception.
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« Reply #72 on: August 19, 2005, 03:43:10 PM »

Though I am not intimately familiar with all the Antiochians have done, I know one substantial step they made was to make the Priest the President of the Parish Council, thus allowing him to control the agenda, as well as 'veto' any decisions of the parish council. Technically the parish council is an advisory committee in any parish, but the Antiochains have made steps to ensure that they do not go beyond their bounds.

I think actually technically the parish council is not purely advisory; I expect it has legal standing as the board of the corporation of the parish. The only way around this, I expect, is for the diocesan corporation to hold and adminster everything directly. In practice it must surely be unworkable to do so.

The presidency of the priest is required in ECUSA by Canon I.14.3.
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« Reply #73 on: August 19, 2005, 05:24:21 PM »

I think actually technically the parish council is not purely advisory; I expect it has legal standing as the board of the corporation of the parish. The only way around this, I expect, is for the diocesan corporation to hold and adminster everything directly. In practice it must surely be unworkable to do so.

The presidency of the priest is required in ECUSA by Canon I.14.3.

The Parish board from what I know has a voting policy that pretty much makes decision regardless of the where the 'president; stands. e.g. if sub-commitees or lower were to form new finances for buying things, the priest would not have a decision in that. (But they would need to respect it) Within committees of seperate departments a number of sub-committees is set up so that the need of parishioners help and priests wouldn't be swamped with tons of work overload. And besides not every priest is power hungry. Smiley
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« Reply #74 on: September 10, 2005, 09:00:39 AM »

I deleted my offensive post from several pages ago.  I was an ass and offensive, and I apologize without any reservations.  Please forgive me, any whom I offended.


Now, on to this comment:

The best solution would be to get rid of parish councils and allow the Bishops to more directly manage the affairs and money of the parishes under his omophorion, but until we can solve the greater problem of parish councils there are temporary solutions to the problem of underpaid clergy in every Jurisdiction.

I am unfamiliar with how Orthodox parish councils work, their actual authority, etc.

However, I would be cautious about granting too much power to the bishops over the parishes by destroying the ability of parishes to govern a themselves.  It is not a complete solution, and it can lead to very real other problems.

Allow me to illustrate with my own experience.  I am Roman Catholic, and bishops in my Church have ultimate power over the parishes within their jurisdiction.  Now, there is a shortage of priests in the U.S. in the Catholic Church.  Thus, there are too many parishes for the existing and projected number of priests.  What to do? 

Some bishops have required priests to serve more than one parish.  This can work  reasonably well if the parishes are small, if they are geographically close to each other, and if the priest has to cover no more than two or three parishes.  However, priests in some diocese (in Ohio and Iowa, for example) are responsible for up to six parishes !  Unsurprisingly, this leads to priests becoming fatigued or exhausted, and the people are not being effectively pastored.

Other bishops have imported priests from other countries to supplement their domestic priests.  This can work.  It can also lead to problems when the priests have cultural attitudes (particularly about the roles of women) that are not consistent with American attitudes about the equality of women with men.  Moreover, this policy is at best a stop-gap measure because it fails to solve the root issue: Catholic men in America are generally refusing to become priests.

Other bishops have closed parishes so that the number of parishes is equal to the existing and projected number of priests.  On the one hand, this solution can be effective.  It avoids the exhaustion of priests from constant traveling to other parishes and repeating the same services.  On the other hand, it has two serious negative consequences.  One is that the resulting parishes are large and often impersonal.  Second, viable Christian communities (small parishes) are often the first targets of closure.  Yes, some of them are small because they are the elderly remnants of a once Catholic population that has since moved away; yes, others are small because they are rural and they were founded when people could not drive but instead had to walk or use an animal to get to church.  In other words, many of the smaller parishes that are closed are deemed "superfluous"  due to shifting demographics and the widespread use of cars in America.  Nevertheless, some of these parishes are / were not dying: they had families and plenty of money and so on.  They are / were closed because there are not enough priests.  Having been a member of such a small, viable but "superfluous" parish that was closed, I can tell you from personal experience that it is very painful for a living community to be closed simply at the order of the bishop --and not being to a thing about it.

Finally, other bishops have allowed parishes to remain open even if there are not enough priests.  This solution allows viable communities ((parishes) to remain alive.  However, there are still not enough priests.  Hence, priests can only come to the parish occasionally.  Thus, communion services are substituted for Mass / Divine Liturgy.  That produces two problems.  First, a communion service is not the same as Mass / Divine Liturgy.  Second, however, is that the communion services are usually performed by married laity / deacons or by nuns.  This naturally gets people to wondering:  Why don't we (the Catholic Church) just allow married priests and women priests?  Both ideas are anathema under the governance of the last and the present bishops of Rome.  Hence, some bishops do not want to purse this option for fear of stimulating their people to ask prohibited questions.

In my opinion, there is no perfect solution -- except to inspire more Catholic men to love Jesus Christ enough to give up everything which the world offers in order to serve Him.  Married priests (outside of the Eastern / Uniate rites) is not a realistic option under the current pope, and women priests are simply not an option in the Catholic Church.  Instead, a combination of the four solutions mentioned above appears to be needed till more Catholic men can be inspired to join the Catholic priesthood.

Yet, there are three valuable lesson here for this discussion. 

1.
In the Catholic Church, it is the bishops who have the ultimate authority to decide the matters of whether a parish will exist and whether a parish will have a priest.  For all the lovely talk about the laity in Vatican II, it amounts to nothing in terms of practical power.  However, based upon what I have read here, it seems that the laity in the Orthodox Church have at least some real power, to balance the power of their bishops, which they can use to preserve the existence of their parishes and have a say in who will be their priest.  Is this accurate?  If so, it would seem to me that the power of Orthodox laity is significant and valuable.

2.
Also, I have read several comments on this thread that parish councils have too much power over their priests which they express by being cheap in their compensation of their priests.  I have a related question.  Do Orthodox parish councils try to influence their parish priests --especially in the content of their preaching and ministry-- by the threat (implied or otherwise) of reducing compensation or firing their priests?  I have heard of this happening occasionally with Protestant churches, but I am honestly ignorant about Orthodox parishes.

3.
Finally, I am curious: is there a shortage of priests in the jurisdictions (Greek, OCA, etc.) of the Orthodox churches in America?  It appears, from this discussion, that there is not a shortage because it appears that Orthodox men are willing to become priests even if they must work second jobs to support themselves and their families.  If there is not a shortage of Orthodox priests: why (in your opinion) are your men willing to become priests but Catholic men are refusing to become priests?


Thank you for any responses.

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« Reply #75 on: September 10, 2005, 02:34:44 PM »

My answers are specific to the GOA, as that is what I know best.

Quote
1.
In the Catholic Church, it is the bishops who have the ultimate authority to decide the matters of whether a parish will exist and whether a parish will have a priest. For all the lovely talk about the laity in Vatican II, it amounts to nothing in terms of practical power. However, based upon what I have read here, it seems that the laity in the Orthodox Church have at least some real power, to balance the power of their bishops, which they can use to preserve the existence of their parishes and have a say in who will be their priest. Is this accurate? If so, it would seem to me that the power of Orthodox laity is significant and valuable.

I think the best way to put it is that many of the GOA hierarchs see themselves as being in a dialogue with the parish councils. Ultimately the power resides with the Metropolitan. Wise Metropolitans listen to the statements of the Parish Council as well as the parish priest, and then help the Parish Council to make a decision that the Metropolitan wanted in the first place. Wink

A parish council should not be making decisions that break their relationship with their Hierarch. However, this does happen when the Council deludes themselves into thinking that they are the source of ecclesiastical authority (look up the situation in Corona, Queens where His Grace Sabbas properly exerted his authority over several unfortunate decisions).

So, there is no one answer to your question. From my sojourns in Catholicism, it seems as if there is more communication between a Parish Council and their hierarch in EO than RC, but no parish council can directly oppose their hierarch and remain legitimate. That is the struggle in the GOA.

Quote

2.
Also, I have read several comments on this thread that parish councils have too much power over their priests which they express by being cheap in their compensation of their priests. I have a related question. Do Orthodox parish councils try to influence their parish priests --especially in the content of their preaching and ministry-- by the threat (implied or otherwise) of reducing compensation or firing their priests? I have heard of this happening occasionally with Protestant churches, but I am honestly ignorant about Orthodox parishes.
Quote

A Parish Council cannot fire their priest. This was attempted within the GOA by other councils (such as Charlotte, NC) and the councils have rightfully gotten their heads handed back to them by the Hierarch when word got to him.

Now, the Council can complain about their priest to their hierarch, and usually the hierarch will investigate things and make a decision about the situation, and this decision is not always to the satisfaction of the priest.

There may be some priests who feel they need to attenuate their sermons or ministry to be materially comfortable. The same dynamic occurs within Orthodoxy as elsewhere. However, the parish council cannot act like some Protestant council and fire their clergy---and get away with it.


Quote

3.
Finally, I am curious: is there a shortage of priests in the jurisdictions (Greek, OCA, etc.) of the Orthodox churches in America? It appears, from this discussion, that there is not a shortage because it appears that Orthodox men are willing to become priests even if they must work second jobs to support themselves and their families. If there is not a shortage of Orthodox priests: why (in your opinion) are your men willing to become priests but Catholic men are refusing to become priests?
Quote

I know of no religious organization on this planet that states they have sufficient clergy for their needs.
That being said, I believe the EO church in North America has a better clergy:laity ratio than the RC. Why?

Well, I am concerned that I will be accused of RC-bashing, and honestly this is not my intent. However, I think the Spirit is at work within EO and He helps convince men (like myself) that the self-emptying love of Christ is best personified in the world through the role of being an EO priest.

Now, frequently we do not come to that realization until we have lived a bit in the world. For many men, they have already married by this time in their lives, and so when they get that lightbulb moment if they are RC they cannot answer it due to their church's discipline. Sometimes these men move over to Orthodoxy and then are able to answer that call.

So, clearly it starts with the Spirit and then circumstances in the World may help derail things.
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« Reply #76 on: September 12, 2005, 06:13:15 AM »

I know of no religious organization on this planet that states they have sufficient clergy for their needs.
That being said, I believe the EO church in North America has a better clergy:laity ratio than the RC. Why?

Well, I am concerned that I will be accused of RC-bashing,


Not by me !  To continue:



Quote
and honestly this is not my intent. However, I think the Spirit is at work within EO and He helps convince men (like myself) that the self-emptying love of Christ is best personified in the world through the role of being an EO priest.

Now, frequently we do not come to that realization until we have lived a bit in the world. For many men, they have already married by this time in their lives, and so when they get that lightbulb moment if they are RC they cannot answer it due to their church's discipline. Sometimes these men move over to Orthodoxy and then are able to answer that call.

So, clearly it starts with the Spirit and then circumstances in the World may help derail things.



Interesting.  Very interesting. And accurate for some men I know of.  They wanted to be both married and priests: not for a lack of love for Christ nor out of weakness but because they genuinely felt called / built by God to be married and to be priests.  Yet, that option wasn't available for them in the Roman Catholic Church.

On the other hand, I also know of some men who feel called to the celibate priesthood but who just won't make that jump because of a lack of faith and trust in Christ. 

Personally, I think the Orthodox have the right idea on the priesthood:  allow married as well as single men to be parish priests.  The married men bring their experience of family life to their calling, which can greatly enrich their pastoral ability and which can make it easier for people to relate to their priests.  Also, celibate parish priests are a very good witness:  that the power of God is mightier than even the sex drive, and that God really does call all of us to live entirely for Him, and that God really does call some men and women to give it **all** up so they can serve Him and His Church with complete  freedom.  That is a powerful set of lessons --by both married and celibate priests--to be made at the parish level, when the laity are so often otherwise exposed to the incessant message from the world of selfishness and self-gratification.  And the message is that we can and should live for God, joyfully, regardless of our state of life. 

Also, thank you Chris for your clarification on the role and authority of the bishop / metropolitan in relation to the parish council.


 
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« Reply #77 on: December 03, 2012, 07:51:13 PM »

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

Every time I go, I feel like I am there for 100 years. and this byzantine music is so boring. Every time I go there to worship, I forget the reason I went there in the next five minutes. However, I do lght a candle, and pray a little. Then I am waiting for the mass to end.
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« Reply #78 on: December 03, 2012, 08:39:29 PM »

Every time I go, I feel like I am there for 100 years. and this byzantine music is so boring. Every time I go there to worship, I forget the reason I went there in the next five minutes. However, I do lght a candle, and pray a little. Then I am waiting for the mass to end.
The first or second evening I was in Russia I went to a big cathedral and waited 3 hours in line for confession. When I finally got to the front of the line, the priest said that those (like me) who hadn't been in the pre-confession prayer service (that I hadn't recognized) off to the side of the church wouldn't get to go to confession that day.

I mentioned this story once to someone in a Russian Orthodox journal, and they acted like this all made perfect sense.

Trust me Tweety, even three hours in liturgy with occasional kneeling is so much better than three hours waiting at night for confession you aren't allowed to go to.
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« Reply #79 on: December 03, 2012, 10:01:27 PM »

Every time I go, I feel like I am there for 100 years. and this byzantine music is so boring. Every time I go there to worship, I forget the reason I went there in the next five minutes. However, I do lght a candle, and pray a little. Then I am waiting for the mass to end.
The first or second evening I was in Russia I went to a big cathedral and waited 3 hours in line for confession. When I finally got to the front of the line, the priest said that those (like me) who hadn't been in the pre-confession prayer service (that I hadn't recognized) off to the side of the church wouldn't get to go to confession that day.

I mentioned this story once to someone in a Russian Orthodox journal, and they acted like this all made perfect sense.

Trust me Tweety, even three hours in liturgy with occasional kneeling is so much better than three hours waiting at night for confession you aren't allowed to go to.

Just engaging in a bit of unfair profiling, but I consider it highly unlikely that he arrives any time before "ta ayia tis ayis" / "the holy things are for the holy", in any event.
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