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​​​​​​​​​5.13.6 Ongoing Formation, Study Programs, and Sabbaticals for Priests

​Ongoing formation is a core value in the archdiocese for all clergy. Ongoing formation is necessary for the minister to enhance his spiritual life and his pastoral, leadership, and administrative skills. The ongoing formation of priests involves the following five areas:

  • Human

  • Intellectual

  • Spiritual

  • Pastoral

  • Professional leadership

Each priest is encouraged to prepare a plan for his own ongoing formation, including participation in the programs that are regularly planned and announced through the Office of the Vicar f​or Clergy. The priest should share his personal plan with key people, including his spiritual director, his mentor priest (where applicable), his support group, and the leadership of his parish or place of ministry. Priest-Selected Study and Formation and Retreat Funding

All priests who hold a full-time assignment to work in the archdiocese as of July 1 of any year are entitled to $1,200 in ongoing formation funds and $700 to fund a personal annual retreat, paid from their source of salary from July 1 of that year through June 30 of the following year (the archdiocese and parish fiscal year). Costs for other programs are funded by the archdiocese.

The annual ongoing formation funds may be used by the priest for ministry-related materials (including professional books, periodicals, and journals), classes, professional conferences, and workshops. Ongoing formation funds also may be used for facility expenses connected with monthly prayer/support group meetings or personal days of recollection. Ongoing formation funds are not for workshops and seminars in which parish staff members are expected to participate. Ongoing formation funds are not to be used for personal vacations.

Questions concerning ongoing formation funds, programs, and retreat opportunities should be directed to the Office of Vicar for ​Clergy. Ongoing Formation Opportunities

The following summarizes the ongoing formation opportunities provided for priests in the archdiocese:

Annual Programs

Priests are encouraged to take up to 10 days annually to participate in ongoing formation classes, programs, workshops, and professional conferences to enhance their ministry and for personal growth. Five officially sanctioned priest study days at St. John's Seminary are considered part of these 10 days. Priests should mutually agree with the other priests in the place of ministry regarding the selected dates of their ongoing formation days. If a priest is away over a weekend, he is responsible for getting his own replacement and the parish will provide the stipend or service f​​ee for the replacement.

Annual Priest Retreat

All diocesan priests assigned to work in full-time ministry and externs (including religious order priests assigned to archdiocesan parishes) who have completed one year in full-time ministry in the archdiocese are required to make an annual retreat. The retreat is normally a five-day retreat (Monday to Friday).

Prayer/Support Groups

Priests are encouraged to participate in a prayer/support group and may take one additional day off per month for this purpose. Priests may use ongoing formation funds to help defray costs associated with prayer/support group meetings.

Presbyteral Day with the Archbishop

All priests (archdiocesan, religious, and extern) working in a full-time archdiocesan ministry are expected to attend Presbyteral Day with the Archbishop (annually on the last Monday of September). Retired and other priests in the archdiocese are invited to participate. Archdiocesan priests who are unable to attend are requested to inform the Office of the Archbishop in writing.

Chrism Afternoon of Prayer and Mass for Priests

All priests, including retired priests, who minister in the archdiocese are invited to attend the Chrism Afternoon of Prayer and Mass for Priests with the archbishop at the cathe​​dral. This is usually held on Monday of Holy Week and is an important time to reaffirm the priest's vocation.

Newly Ordained Clergy (NOC)

A series of meetings during the first year of a priest's ministry is organized by the vicar for clergy to introduce newly ordained priests to general ministerial realities and to provide an opportunity for dialogue, support, and mentoring among the newly ordained and with the clerical leadership of the archdiocese. The meetings culminate in a day of dialogue among the newly ordained, the pastor/administrator from the priest's place of assignment, the Office of the Vicar for Clergy, and archdiocesan leadership.

Recently Ordained Clergy (ROC)

The five-year program of ongoing ministerial and professional development is organized by the Office of the Vicar for Clergy. The program assists priests during the first five years of their ministry to succeed as ministers and administrators in their vocational journey.

Teachers and Preachers (TAP)

This program of weekly instruction is conducted by retired women religious to help extern and other interested priests with accent acquisition.

New Pastors and Administrators Meetings (NPAM)

Meetings are conducted on a wide variety of critical subjects to assist priests in their first administrative assignment in the archdiocese of Los Angeles.

New Pastors Program (NPP)

A coordinated two-week course to train priests in their first pastorate is required for all new pastors in the (arch)dioceses in the ecclesiastical provinces of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Becoming Home

During the first year of an extern's assignment in the archdiocese, he is required to attend the yearlong Becoming Home program sponsored by the Office of the Vicar for Clergy. This program introduces priests to various requirements and cultural expectations of day-to-day living in the United States and in California and ministry in the archdiocese. An important part of the program is to help priests understand the structure of the Archdiocesan Catholic Center (ACC) and its role in helping priests. Various ACC department heads familiarize the newly arrived priests with the programs and services of their departments. Details of the program are provided to all extern priests during the year. Special Circumstances

The archbishop at his discretion may grant a priest extended time for study or renewal, which shall not be considered either an administrative leave or a sabbatical. Special Education Programs

The archdiocese provides an opportunity for a limited number of priests to take a year's study with a view to enriching the presbyterate on their return. For incardinated priests pursuing special studies (e.g., degree work) while remaining in their regular assignments, the archdiocese will budget a special sum of money. Before the beginning of each semester, the priests will be reminded of this fund and those who are planning to take courses costing more than the normal $1,200 allotment will be invited to seek additional assistance. Such assistance will not normally reimburse the priest for more than half the tuition. The number of priests pursuing special education programs at any given time is subject to the availability of financial support. A priest seeking such financial assistance should have discussed his planned study with the priests with whom he serves and he should supply them with a copy of his request to the archdiocese.

See Ongoing Formation Opportunities. Sabbaticals for Priests

The archdiocese provides a limited number of priests the opportunity to take a sabbatical. All incardinated priests who have served in a full-time active archdiocesan assignment for seven continuous years are eligible to apply for a sabbatical. ​

A sabbatical for a priest is an extended period of time away from his normal duties for the purpose of renewing and enriching himself both as a person and minister. Generally, a sabbatical will include a formal educational component. Normally the priest himself will initiate the request for a sabbatical and will propose the format it should take. A sabbatical is not a vacation, sick leave, a course or courses of special studies assigned by the archdiocese in preparation for a special task, or the occasion for dealing with a physical illness, an addiction, or severe mental or emotional problems. Retreats do not normally come under the heading of sabbaticals, though a retreat might constitute one element of a sabbatical. A sabbatical is generally for four months and is rarely taken between assignments, since during the course of the sabbatical, the usual salary and benefits for the priest are normally paid by his source of salary.

Priests serving at St. John's Seminary are subject to the seminary's policies on sabbaticals.

ReligiousPriests' Eligibility for Sabbaticals

While the archdiocese assumes that the primary responsibility for providing sabbaticals for religious priests rests with their particular congregations, the archdiocese provides some funds to encourage and assist religious priests ministering in the archdiocese to take sabbaticals. Religious priests seeking a sabbatical and assistance should obtain the approval of their major superior before applying to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy.​  

Religious priests who have at least seven continuous years of archdiocesan ministry may apply for assistance in taking a sabbatical. For purposes of this policy, such ministry refers to current service in parishes within the archdiocese, or service in the Archdiocesan Catholic Center or other institutions owned and operated by the archdiocese; it does not include ministry in institutions owned by religious communities.  The need, length of service, nature of the proposed program, and possible commitment to extending service within the archdiocese will be factors considered in deciding on grants to religious.

Replacements During Sabbaticals

A priest planning to go on sabbatical should find his own replacement. If this is not possible, he should consult with the vicar for clergy, his regional bishop, and the other priests at his assignment​ before submitting a proposal detailing how his work can be covered during his absence.

It is assumed that a priest's absence on sabbatical may involve some curtailment of services; however, his absence should not place an unreasonable burden on those who remain at his assignment. It is hoped that the priests of each deanery will make every effort to enable their fellow priests to go on sabbatical. The final judgment as to the adequacy of coverage for a priest on sabbatical rests with the archbishop.

Financing for Sabbaticals

Currently, the archdiocese funds tuition, room and board, and books and materials up to $5,400 for a sabbatical. Requests for an amount exceeding this sum must be included in the sabbatical proposal. All requests for sabbatical expenses are reviewed and, if approved, are paid by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Ministerial Services. Normally, a priest's salary and benefits continue to be paid by his usual source of salary. The number of priests who may be on sabbatical at any given time is dependent upon the availability of financial support and the needs of the archdiocese, which are reviewed and adjusted as needed. A priest on sabbatical pays his own travel and other personal expenses. The source of salary will pay the salary, room and board, and transportation costs for the priest substituting for the one on sabbatical.

While on sabbatical, a religious pastor/administrator or associate is entitled to receive a salary from his source of salary for a period of up to four months and also to have the parish pay the priest who substitutes for him during this period.

Applications for Sabbaticals

Priests wishing to take a sabbatical should submit a proposal to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy​. Religious priests also consult with their major religious superior. The proposal should include a description of the proposed sabbatical, a statement of the costs involved, and information on how the priest's assignment will be covered while he is away. The vicar for clergy evaluates the proposal and presents it to the archbishop for his final approval.

Each priest returning from a sabbatical is expected to submit a written report to the vicar f​or clergy​ containing his comments on the particular program, how he benefited from it, and his recommendations to other priests who might be interested in participating in the program. 

5-21-21, 3-15-2022