Priesthood in a Time of Crisis

A New Study of the Psychological and Spiritual Health of Priests

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Format: Paperback

Publication date: April 24, 2023

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A new study by Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti—a licensed psychologist and research professor who has studied the American priesthood for thirty years—found that an overwhelming majority of American Catholic priests say that they are happy, like their work, and have vibrant spiritual lives.

As Rossetti’s capstone to thirty years of studying the Catholic priesthood in the United States, Priesthood in a Time of Crisis is an indispensable tool for bishops and priests, as well as all those charged with the formation and ongoing education of clergy.

Rossetti conducted similar studies on the psychological and spiritual well-being of American Catholic priests in 2004 and 2009, the latter of which led to his groundbreaking book Why Priests are Happy. This book includes the most recent findings about the health of priests, what most influences their wellness, and how the Church can ensure their continued well-being. The three studies make up the most comprehensive survey of American priests ever conducted.

Rossetti’s research shows

  • Priestly happiness in the United States has been steadily rising for the last few decades and continues to be very high, with 90 percent or more of priests indicating that they strongly agree/agree with the statement, “Overall, I am happy as a priest.”
  • Priests very much like doing what they do, resulting in high job satisfaction.
  • More priests are engaging in traditional spiritual practices—including praying the Liturgy of the Hours and spending at least thirty minutes each day in private prayer—than they reported a decade ago.
  • Support for celibacy among priests remains high and is rising, with more priests professing to have a positive experience of celibacy, from 75 percent in 2009 to 82 percent in 2021.
  • Mental wellness of priests remains high despite some signs of distress and depression, particularly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Priests report they are disappointed in Church leaders for their failures in handling abuse cases.

Rossetti explains that the most crucial indicators of a priest’s psychological and spiritual wellbeing are loneliness, self-esteem, relationship to his bishop, compassion satisfaction, childhood trauma, traditional spirituality, priestly fraternity, sexual conflicts, and his intimacy with God.

Product Details

Pages: 192

Trim size: 6 x 9 inches

ISBN: 9781646802081

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

  • “Hopeful and challenging.”

    “Both hopeful and challenging, this book is enormously helpful and encouraging for priests and for those involved in priestly formation and indeed for all Catholics who love their priests and wish to support them with their prayers, assistance, and affection.”

    Fr. Carter Griffin
    Rector, Saint John Paul II Seminary
    Washington, DC

  • “Read this book.”

    “I urge every vocation director, seminary formator, and bishop to read this book.”

    Rosemary C. Sullivan
    Executive Director
    National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors

  • “An important new study.”

    “Rossetti’s important new study brings to light the truth that the overwhelming majority of priests find joy and fulfillment in their call from God. It will help the laity to understand the tremendous gift and sometimes challenging life of the priest today, and ought to guide formation programs for clergy throughout the country.”

    Msgr. Robert Panke
    Pastor, Saint John Neumann Catholic Church
    Gaithersburg, Maryland

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