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Questions about the Priesthood

Simayan

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FrChris is probably the resident expert on this, but I'm interested in getting everyone's thoughts.

After converting, I've had a slight nagging in the back of my head about the priesthood. I know this isn't post-conversion zeal; that went away last Winter. It's gotten to the point where I've placed that as one of my possible careers when I graduate from High School, but I still know little about the process. In fact, I'm down to two options; Clergy or Naval Officer. So:

1.) Is there a minimum age?

2.) Are young priests generally frowned upon?

3.) What is the general series of events that follows when one graduates from Seminary?

4.) Now, I know this next one will sound cold and evil. But it's not out of greed. But frankly, I'd like to know the average salary. Not because I care at all about the "comfort" (we've gotten by on $20,000 a year throughout my childhood), but because I would want to work fully and devote all my energy, not worry about having a part-time job that would detract from my duties. I know the priest at our Parish makes $50,000 a year, which is WAY more than enough for me. Then there's one 10 miles away who makes $100,000, which makes my jaw drop.

Also, the only real problem I see for myself is the fact I'm an only child. I know Orthodox priests can be married, but only pre-ordination. So, if I did become a priest out of high school at Holy Cross, my family name would pitter out (I'm the last one on my dad's side who could even HOPE to carry it on). I suppose adoption is an option, but a child with no mother seems a bit off with the typical "Orthodoxy and Family" I hear about.

So, I'm in a dilemma.

-Will
 

Asteriktos

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The canonical age for being a priest is for the guy to be at least 30, so you'd have some years to look for a wife (though I think there are also some restrictions if you are a Deacon as well, I think the age to become Deacon is 25 at the earliest). Regarding pay, the people who have gone to seminary would know a lot better than I, but fwiw there does seem to be a very large difference depending on which jurisdiction you are in, with the Greeks being much better paid, and the Antiochian and Russian priests that I've met often having part time jobs (e.g., teaching at a Catholic school).
 

greekischristian

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Simayan said:
In fact, I'm down to two options; Laity or Naval Officer. So:
Do you mean clergy or naval officer? If so, I'd recommend the latter, then, if after a few years you still want to be a priest you're in an ideal situation to become a chaplain...and Orthodox Chaplains are sorely needed in the armed forces...and if you start down that path and find you dont like it, you'd at least have a good career to fall back on. Basically, keep your options open.

1.) Is there a minimum age?
Yes, 30, 21, 25, etc...depends on who you ask, though technically (read canonically) the answer is 30. Of course, it ultimately depends on your bishop he can ordain you as young, or as old, as he sees fit.

2.) Are young priests generally frowned upon?
Depends on the bishop, some prefer younger priests some discourage it. However, few, if any, in the United States will ordain young celibate priests. If you dont get married expect to wait until you're 30 at the youngest. As far as how the parishes receive them, the general impression I get is they are not received with hostility, but neither are they afforded the respect a more established priest may be given; you would have to prove yourself like many priests do, though it would probably be more difficult.

3.) What is the general series of events that follows when one graduates from Seminary?
Basically you wait until your Bishop decides to ordain you, then it's generally a matter of formalities and paperwork, though if your celibate you might run into difficulities with your synod. The exact details of the paperwork varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

4.) Now, I know this next one will sound cold and evil.
Not all, it sounds pragmatic, I would worry about one who failed to ask this question.

But it's not out of greed. But frankly, I'd like to know the average salary. Not because I care at all about the "comfort" (we've gotten by on $20,000 a year throughout my childhood), but because I would want to work fully and devote all my energy, not worry about having a part-time job that would detract from my duties. I know the priest at our Parish makes $50,000 a year, which is WAY more than enough for me. Then there's one 10 miles away who makes $100,000, which makes my jaw drop.
Varies greatly depending on jurisdiction. With numbers like you're giving I would assume this is the Greek Archdiocese, (Fr. Chris can correct me if I'm off by too much, I fear I never really got that far in the process) but the GOA tends to pay the best with the minimum being around 40k plus what you get for sacraments (which can vary substantially depending on the parish), it can go up from there to 100k+ in some parishes. The Antiochians pay a bit less, but still a livable wage, though an added bonus with them is that they pay for your seminary education. The Russian Metropolia (OCA) and Serbian Church tend to pay less than a livable wage on average, requiring their priests to seek outside employment, though there are certainly parishes that do pay decent wages to their Priests. Of course, with the other option I presented above, if you were a military chaplain you would be paid according to rank and time in service, regardless of location or jurisdiction.

Also, the only real problem I see for myself is the fact I'm an only child. I know Orthodox priests can be married, but only pre-ordination. So, if I did become a priest out of high school at Holy Cross, my family name would pitter out (I'm the last one on my dad's side who could even HOPE to carry it on). I suppose adoption is an option, but a child with no mother seems a bit off with the typical "Orthodoxy and Family" I hear about.
If you're worried about it, get married; as I said before, if you dont get married you probably can't get ordained until your into your 30's anyway.
 

Simayan

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Thanks for you insight, GiC!

Metropolitan Methodios of Boston is who we're under in Maine.

In fact, I'm down to two options; Laity or Naval Officer. So:
Do you mean clergy or naval officer?
Yes, I did mean Clergy. Brain cramp  :p

Oh, and just for clarification, married priests cannot pass beyond Parish priests, right? I thought I remember reading somewhere that all the metropolitans and patriarchs are celibate. May have just been a rumor though.
 

greekischristian

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Simayan said:
Oh, and just for clarification, married priests cannot pass beyond Parish priests, right? I thought I remember reading somewhere that all the metropolitans and patriarchs are celibate. May have just been a rumor though.
No, it's not just a rumor, all Bishops are celibate in the Orthodox Church...which could technically include a married priest provided he is a widower or he and his wife are neither living together nor having marital relations.
 

choirfiend

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I believe the Antiochians only require a parish to pay their priest--so a small mission priest may receive next to nothing, if the congregation is small.
 

Thomas

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Actually, in the Antiochian Church most missions have a stipend of some sort for their priests.  Many of the Bishops have mission endowment funds to assist new struggling parishes and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) also provides stipends to new Orthodox Missions. My parish at one time had OCMC  funds that assisted us in meeting rent and stipends for the priests. In OCA , ROCOR, and AOC it is not uncommon for new missions to pay a small stipend for Liturgies  to a missioner priest who them works a full or part-time job to support himself and his family.

In our parish as it grew, the OCMC stipend ended and the parish gradually was able to pay the priest a full time competitive salary comprable to the salary of other Orthodox priests in the region.

One area that dioceses and experienced  priests have not really looked at is the use of the  senior priests nearing retirement or in early retirement,whose children are now raised, being assigned to missions with salaries from the diocese.  With reduced family size, the priests may be willing to make lower standard salaries and also bring their experience in Liturgy and administration to new missions.  One priest in our area "retired" to found one mission and now is over three missions in the region using his expertise to train readers, subdeacons, and deacons to the ministry as well as teach new convert missions how to organize their parish, create and run a working parish council. It is interesting that his mission already has a beautifully appointed temple that has been built and his mission is less than 5 years old---it shows the advantage of having an experiened priest in the mission field versus a newly ordained priest.  Perhaps Church growth could actually be greater if we put the newly ordained in an apprenticeship in a larger parish with an experienced priest and place the older, experienced priest nearing retirement into the mission field to help the new convert mission be led to a healthy and strong parish status.

In Christ,
Thomas
 

Fr. George

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A few things to keep in mind while you continue your search:

1. Regardless of your status, generally the Bishops won't ordain you married or otherwise until you're in your second-to-last year in Holy Cross at the earliest... If you went out of High School to Hellenic College and then to Holy Cross (the quickest way to that point), then you'd still be 24 or so at that point; young, but not adolescent.  And, of course, if you've chosen that path, it means you will be (probably) more attuned to finding the special lady - it's amazing how many guys find their wives while they're studying at seminary (the majority come from their home metropolises or their field ed assignments... at the moment it's a bit rare to find and marry someone else who is studying at HCHC).

2. It seems to me, from various rumblings, that the GOA needs more priests than the Antiochians, and will continue to need more in the near future.  I won't speculate on the OCA's needs, because they did have a period where they founded more parishes than the population could support, and I have a feeling that they'll go through a period of contraction in the next 5 or so years).  This should affect things.

3. Yes, you will be paid better by the GOA, and there is much less chance that you'll need to find a second job.  However, don't let the top end of the payscale entice you - the vast majority of priests making 100k+ (which aren't that many to begin with) are in parishes where more priests are needed but not hired (thus overworking the priest(s) present or causing them to do a poor job when they don't do the work they should), or live in areas where the cost of living is so high that 100,000k is like making 70,000 in other places.

4. As far as post-seminary, if you're a GOA graduate of Holy Cross (and thus probably received L100 money to offset tuition) you'll need to find a job in a parish, metropolis, dept. of the archdiocese, or Church ministry (i.e. IOCC, OCMC, etc.) as part of the scholarship requirements.  These jobs are out there, and if you do your work in school and try your best to be active in diocesan or archdiocesan ministries (summer camps, Ionian Village, helping at your metropolis, etc.) then finding a job until you're ordain-ed or ordain-able shouldn't be too much of a hassle.  Once your ducks are in a row (i.e. you get married, or if you're gonna be celibate you pass 30-years old), then it's a dialogue with you and your bishop (and the Archdiocese, technically), and the completion of a number of tasks, which include (not a comprehensive list):
  a. If married, your wife must assent in writing to your ordination, and must pledge to follow you wherever you are assigned.
  b. Whether married or not, you must undergo a psychological evaluation.
  c. You must have a letter from a bishop stating that he would ordain you.
  d. A letter from your spiritual father approving your ordination.
  e. A letter from the President of the Seminary from which you graduated.
  f. A letter from the Bursar of the Seminary, stating that you have no outstanding bills to the Seminary for your education.

This is just what's on the top of my head at the moment.  More to follow (I hope I remember).
 
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