Priest Salaries - benefits etc

Not sure if this is the right forum…Moderator…please move if necessary…

I’m currently in a discussion elsewhere about the financial aspects of various churches - and Christianity in general.

As part of my thinking on this…I wondered what the average diocesan priest’s salary/benefits are. A quick search of our local diocesan website turned up nothing…(no financial reports etc.), so I thought the quickest way to get some general info would be to ask here.
I’m sure this probably varies from locale to locale…I’m in the mid-west of the United States…but in general terms:
what is the salary of a diocesan priest…
what benefits…
what does the diocese cover and what is he responsible for?
I assume that parish houses are “rent free” but they have to buy their own cars…what about insurance? Do they have to pay a portion?

Thanks for any (name removed by moderator)ut…


The numbers in this article seem to be a bit lower than I remember.

Remember also that the term “catholic priest” is broad. Diocesan priests (the parish priest “employed” by the (arch)diocese) receive a salary. Priests that belong to religious orders have no salary. They receive a stipend, as their costs are covered by the religious order. For example, last time I checked, if I remember correctly, priests of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) receive a stipend of $35 a week.

Good luck in your research.

At our former parish, the priest that was there five years ago made $18,000/year. His car had been his dad’s, he lived in the parish house. I don’t know if he had any other benefits or not. He relied on the generosity of the parishoners for many of his needs. He was very frugal.

10 years ago, my understanding was that priests received about $1000/month (presumably after taxes), out of which they had to pay for their car and auto insurance, which seems to leave them with very little left over! They get health insurance through the diocese, and with those numbers, I would say their housing costs as well, including utilities, but these latter may be paid for from the parish itself rather than the diocese.

I know one priest who mentioned that he quit smoking because the expense was so high and if he quit, he’d have more money for charity–how about that!

I live in the UK
Most parish priests live on the donation made on Christmas Day and on Easter Sunday, plus any small stipend they are offered to say a mass for a specific intention. (no more that £10 per stipend, no more than 1 stipend per day)

When discussing this with priests in several dioceses I have been told that they actually live on a “Salary” deliberately targeted to be below the income tax threshold - to ensure that donations to the church are not passed on to the Government as Income Tax. - This sets them to live below the nationally defined “Poverty line” -
As others have commented, however they are normally provided with a home and a car, for which any use that is necessary for their duties would be funded from parish or diocesan funds. In many cases the full costs of running the Presbytery would come from parish funds and not from the priests stipend, therefore this small sum of money does not have to stretch as far as it would for most people who pay their own rent and bills.

In the past couple of years the “Tax free allowance” for people in the UK has almost doubled and is now just under £10,000. It used to be closer to the £4,000 mark, and has been deliberately and rapidly increased by the current government as part of a restructuring of Tax and welfare benefits. I know my parish priest only takes around £4,500 per year (plus a house and car that belong to and are funded by the parish).

My package where I work is worth around 10 times that much! - & with a wife and 2 kids I often struggle to get from one end of the month to the other.

Wow! I had idea it was so low.
More respect to our priests now that I know.

Our diocesan pastors receive $40,000 or so per year in salary, plus car allowance, health insurance, pension funding and clerical cllothing alllowance. And of course, their housing, food and housekeeping expenses are paid through their parishes.

That sounds better…

Ann Arbour:
$40,000 per year plus all those other perks sounds like a huge sum of money? what do they do with it all?
Are you sure that isn’t *including *all those other allowances?
A single person just doesn’t need that much money, and priests are supposed to live a life which expresses a spirit of poverty - even if diocesan priests don’t take a vow of poverty.

It’s about 20-30K in our Archdiocese, plus a food allowance. Housing is provided by the parish as a parish expense. There is a housing allowance if the priest is on an assignment that cannot provide housing (such as hospital chaplaincy)

I don’t know about car and fuel allowance, but I would think that a pastor could expense ‘work’ related travel to the parish just as any secular employee could.

This sounds really high. How did you come to know that figure?

Ann - I’m curious too…:wink: This seems to be quite a bit more than many other diocese.
What part of the country is this in? I wonder if "cost of living’ could be a factor in this variation.



Thanks everyone for your (name removed by moderator)ut.
Someone mentioned stipends and I hadn’t thought of that aspect - thanks.


What cost of living? There is hardly anything left off of AnnArbor’s list that a priest would actually need to spend his $40,000 on. Sounds like these priests will all be multi-millionaires in retirement.

It might be high, relatively speaking. But when you look at the job description, it’s certainly not generous. I have no idea what our pastor makes here in Pennsylvania.

He’s the only priest in our parish. It’s a 24/7/365 job. He shepherds a family of several hundred people from earthly birth to earthly death, in sickness and in health. He’s ultimately responsible for the physical plant. The staff. Religious ed., etc. Everything is on his shoulders.

And I have never seen the man flinch in the face of it all. Not once have I seen him lose his temper, look tired, or slow down.

That being said, obviously he’s not looking for a reward of $$$.

Good Point…:blush:


I like to joke that I went into the seminary for the money and Sunday’s off! In fact, I read recently that the priests of my diocese just got a raise! :smiley:

Seriously though the stipend only covers personal expenditure - the usual day to day expenses we all have. Living expenses (food, utilities, etc) are usually paid for by a proportion of the collection each Sunday, while donations for baptisms and weddings have to go to a central clergy support fund.

That said, the material poverty of seminary life makes me almost look forward to a priestly stipend! Of course, there’s also the small matter of being on call effectively 24-7 and being responsible for the spiritual and material well being of a parish…

While the salary may seem high, as someone said it depends on the cost of living in the area where a priest lives. They buy their own cars and other personal items they need or may want. Yes some may live a bit high. I know priests who have time shares, boats, own a house, a second car, go on few vacations a year, and do many of the things we do as far as recreation (golf can be expensive).

Remember secular priests do not take a vow of poverty. They also pay taxes, which for a single with no dependents could be high, so that takes a chunk out of it. They pay their car insurance but I think in our area they get a group rate which helps a bit. But they also donate a lot of their own money to charities and do contribute to their own parish. They get health insurance but their is always the co-pay. In my last parish our pastor made sure that he always put his envelope in the collection basket and he was always the first to donate to the bishop’s annual fund. Some give a lot of their salary away to help the poor. Some priests are taking care of elderly parents by helping with their bills and covering medical costs not covered by Medicare or helping them with household expenses.

Personally I don’t care how much they make as long as they are not gambling or using their money for illegal or sinful things.

On the East Coast, where price of living can be more expensive, we pay our priests about $22,000 annually. When you include health insurance and all other benefits, it amounts to $40,000-50,000.

I read in the past that the average salary of a diocesan priest in the U.S. ranged from $1200 - $1800 per month, depending upon location. Of course, that is not a driving force for anyone discerning the priesthood. I am hoping to give up my law practice to enter seminary soon!