310 – Priest Sabbatical

Last Updated: 1/30/2017

I. Purpose

The purpose of the Priest Sabbatical Policy is to provide the criteria for eligibility of a priest to take an approved Sabbatical program. The Policy provides an initial application and a form to be completed upon approval for the program.


II. Definitions

Sabbatical: a period of time away from a priest’s regular assignment for the purpose of enriching his life and ministry. Biblically, the Sabbath rest is a time of renewal focused on deepening one’s relationship with God.


III. Policy

The Sabbatical Program is administered by the Archbishop. A Sabbatical is an assignment that must be approved through a formal process.

Purpose of a Sabbatical

Sabbaticals may be used for spiritual, pastoral, educational, theological, and ministerial enrichment, as well as chance to be renewed through rest and a change of pace. It is not meant to be an extended vacation, sick leave, assigned academic studies, or a leave of absence.


Sabbaticals vary in length depending on the program. Given the potential impact on the parish/institution, requests for Sabbaticals longer than four months may require additional planning and consultation with the Archbishop.


A priest incardinated in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is eligible to apply for a Sabbatical upon completion of a total of 7 years of ministerial service, and every 7 years after a Sabbatical is completed. Sabbaticals will be granted after age 65 on an exceptional basis.

For priests assigned as pastors at the time of their Sabbatical, a parochial administrator will usually be appointed for the duration of the pastor’s time on Sabbatical.

Sabbaticals will not be approved to be taken between assignments.


Sabbaticals must conform to the program as requested on the Application and approved by the Archbishop. Priests are encouraged to conduct thorough research prior to submitting an Application. The Office of Parish and Clergy Services can assist with ideas of programs that have been approved and successful in the past.

Coverage Responsibilities

Priests are responsible for arranging for coverage of their responsibilities of their assignment during the Sabbatical. The substitute priest must be eligible for ministry in the Archdiocese and legal to work in the United States.

Financial Arrangements

The following are typical financial arrangements, subject to change depending on specifics of the approved Sabbatical:

  1. Archdiocese provides reimbursement for expenses up to $500/year of ministerial service since previous Sabbatical, as well as coverage for substitute priests at the parish of assignment. For example, a priest with 10 years of service who has not taken a Sabbatical is eligible for a grant up to $5,000 (10 years x $500 = $5,000). Archdiocese reimbursement policies must be followed for reimbursement of qualified expenses.
  2. Parish/institution provides priest salary, benefits, and professional expenses, according to the current salary schedule for priests.
  3. Priests are responsible for all other expenses. Priests are encouraged to apply for grants and scholarships that may help enhance their Sabbatical experience. The priest may use his professional expenses from the parish or institution of assignment toward his Sabbatical expenses.

Any exceptions to these financial arrangements must be approved by the Archbishop.

The Sabbatical program is funded by parishes and institutions contributing $500 annually for each assigned priest. The money in the Sabbatical fund is restricted for the purpose of funding approved Sabbaticals for priests. An update on the Sabbatical fund is to be provided annually to the Presbyteral Council.

Follow Up

Upon completion of the sabbatical, the priest is to provide a report to the Archbishop and the parish/institution of assignment, with an evaluation of the Sabbatical program and how it did or did not meet the intended goals.

IV. Application Process


Sabbaticals are approved after the priest submits an application through the ordinary process. Sabbatical applications are due by November 1 of the year prior to the Fiscal Year in which the Sabbatical is requested to occur.

  1. A priest requesting a Sabbatical submits an Initial Sabbatical Application to the Director of Clergy Services by November 1 prior to the Fiscal Year of the proposed Sabbatical. For example, if the Sabbatical is requested for June through August of FY 2018-2019, the Application is due by November 1, 2017.
  2. The Director of Parish and Clergy Services reviews all Initial Sabbatical Applications and provides a recommendation to the Archbishop, who makes the final decision of approval. Recommendations and approval will be based on the number of applicants, amount of funds available, seniority by years of ordination, number of Sabbaticals approved in the past, order of applications received, and the needs of the priest, parish, and the Archdiocese.
  3. By January, all applicants will be notified if their request has been approved. Those approved will be asked to complete the Sabbatical Information and Ministry Needs form and return it to the Office for Parish and Clergy Services.

All projected expenses must be submitted to the Director of Parish and Clergy Services by March 1 so they may be included in the budget for the next Fiscal Year.

Access the Initial Sabbatical Application, as well as a form for Sabbatical Information and Ministry Needs, by downloading the PDF version via the green button above.