316 – Alternate Residence for Priests

Last Updated: 4/10/2011

April 10, 2011
Volume XII Number 1, Revised


Reverend and dear Fathers,

In 1986, after extensive consultation with the Presbyteral Council, my predecessor, the Most Reverend John R. Roach, promulgated an alternative residence policy in the October 6, 1986, Clergy Bulletin. In short, that policy provided rational for the decision to permit an alternative policy and the criteria under which such a residence be proposed. The purpose of this bulletin is to reaffirm our prior policy with a few amendments.

Living in a parish rectory has been the historic experience of priests in the United States. As we know, this arrangement is not always successful, particularly when examined by new priorities and expectations of priests. High on that list of expectations is the hope of a supportive climate conducive to personal growth and effective ministry.

While the Catholic faithful have been wonderfully generous in providing residence for their priests, in recent history rectories typically served a variety of purposes. The development of a multi-purpose facility has not been without problem. Increasingly in the contemporary Church, the rectory has become the logical place to office parish ministries. As a result, the rectory can become less and less a private residence for the priests and more a parish center for staff and public activities for parishioners.

Further, as we experience fewer priests serving a single parish we logically find situations in which one priest lives in a rectory often designated for two or three. In addition, a growing number of priests would seem to prefer to live with another priest or two and they in tum might serve two or three parishes.

While the policy of my predecessors sought to address these tensions in their day, the policy as such was rarely followed. In an effort than to clarify anew our Archdiocesan policy on alternative residences and to adjust to these new priorities, after consultation with the Presbyteral Council, I suppress the October 6, 1988 policy (Clergy Bulletin Vol. XII, N. 1) and affirm the following guidelines for the alternative residence of diocesan priests.

1. Any proposal by a priest to use a residence other than the parish house or provided institutional housing must take into account the proximity of the priest to the parish or ministerial assignment, as well as the financial situation of the parish or institution. Priests that currently have alternative living arrangements are permitted to keep them during their current assignment, but any arrangements proposed after July 1, 2011, must receive the approval of the Archbishop as well as the unanimous consent of the members of the parish corporate board. A priest who proposes and whose alternate residence proposal is approved is understood to accept the same restrictions for his private residence as would apply to parish or institutional housing (C 533.1, C 550).


In accepting or considering assignments, the enjoyment of an alternative residence, even one permanently held, is understood as subordinate to the need to be available to the Church.

The geographical location of a priest’s proposed alternate residence must be given primary consideration. For those in parish work, the priest’s availability to the parish offices and the parishioners should leave him readily accessible within a short period of time.

In determining the residence, attention must be paid to immediate access to the priest in case of emergency so as to provide for the pastoral needs of parishioners.


Financing for the residence must be arranged in dialogue with the appropriate consultative bodies, and, in the case of a parochial vicar, with approval of the pastor.

2. The proposal, including the financial arrangements, must be submitted in writing to the Comprehensive Assignment Board for review and for the Archbishop’s approval.

The proposal must include: a.) the location of the residence; b.) arrangements for availability by telephone or other means; and c.) financial arrangements.

3. In deciding upon the advisability and the particular location of such a residence, the benefit of the parish shall be considered paramount.

Given at Saint Paul, Minnesota, this 10th day of April, in the year of Our Lord 2011. All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt

Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Jennifer Haselberger

Chancellor for Canonical Affairs