Day 31 of 40: A man feels a call to be a priest. He applies to seminary, is accepted, graduates, and is ordained. Then the assignment comes, “You are going to (blank) Church/Mission and will have to get a full time job.” The priest agrees, happily, because he is finally doing what God has called him to do. Then a year goes by, then another, and another, and things don’t really seem to be changing. He’s tired, his family misses him, and his parishioners miss him. He begins to wonder if this will ever end.
At this point he has a choice: quit and walk away or request a transfer. The transfer happens, and the cycle starts over for the new priest. Unless, and this is a big unless, the wife works. When the wife works, the priest is less likely to have a full-time job, more likely to grow the church, and more likely to quit his secular job. I am not mentioning this as a solution, but as something which is happening.
The proposed solution (not by me but by many others) to our plague of bi-vocational priests is stewardship. Assuming the average household income is $40,000, this translates into an annual tithe of $4,000. Ten households should create an annual budget of $40,000, and twenty households should be able to create an annual budget of $80,000. If they are all tithing 10%.
That sounds great, but what about the following: What if the priest had a good deacon who could help with visiting those who are home-bound or in the hospital? What if there were two deacons, one ministering to the faithful and one in charge of outreach? What if there was a sub-deacon helping with homilies and catechesis? What if there was a really good Sunday school teacher who attracted families in the area? What if coffee hour was so wonderful that visitors came back because of how they were treated?
What if the solution is the body of Christ, with all of us working together following our priest as the spiritual leader of that community? What if…