Sabbaticals for Priests


1) The renewal of priestly life and ministry requires genuine dedication to personal and spiritual growth, professional and theological updating, and development of pastoral and ministerial skills. The sabbatical experience for priests, as directed to those goals, is not an unusual or special exception, but is hence forward a regular and constant feature of priestly life and ministry in the Diocese of Lansing.

2) The renewal of the presbyterate as a whole will be reaffirmed by the constant example of a number of its priests given wholly to these renewal experiences. The individual priest, whether in preparing for or sharing the benefits of his sabbatical experience, likewise, reaffirms his dedication to constant renewal of his priestly life and ministry.

3) Sabbaticals in a special way mark the commitment of the diocese, the presbyterate and the individual priests to renewal.


1) The sabbatical is an official extended period away from current ministerial assignment and responsibility for the purpose of priestly renewal both ministerial and personal, spiritual, professional and theological. While it is primarily a benefit to the individual priest, it also is a large benefit to the people to whom he brings a renewed ministry in the parish and in the diocese.

2) The sabbatical is distinguished from a vacation for which the primary purpose is rest, relaxation, and recreation; from a sick leave for the primary purpose of gaining ones health; and from “special studies” which are normally of greater length and in distinct preparation for a distinct official post (e.g., Canon Law studies in preparation for the Tribunal).


1) The kinds of sabbaticals are study programs and spiritual development. At this time various sabbatical programs offer resource in three areas: 1) growth in theological understanding; 2) training in practical skills; 3) spiritual and personal growth. Some programs address all three areas, others more specific interests and needs. The choice of the best program is primarily the responsibility and the right of the priest after consulting with those who might help him clarify his needs.

2) Sabbatical programs under this policy are:

1) The Institute for Continued Theological Education, Rome.

2) Renewal programs specifically offered for priests (e.g., Notre Dame, Dublin, Vatican II).

3) Self-designed programs for specific needs and purposes. Normal programs for sabbaticals require a three-month absence.


All priests of the Diocese of Lansing shall have the right to apply for a sabbatical of four months for every ten years of service.


Every reasonable effort will be made to provide for four priests on sabbatical at any given time. Extenuating circumstances may increase or decrease this number.


The approval of sabbaticals will take into account the applicant’s demonstrated interest and need as well as extra and special service in the ministry (years of service, special contributions through boards, commissions, committees, etc.).


A priest on approved sabbatical will continue to receive his regular salary and benefits (including health, retirement, transportation) from his assignment; the parish (or institution) shall also pay for the priests replacement. The costs of tuition, transportation, and course books for each approved study sabbatical will be shared equally by the priest (1/3), the diocese (1/3), and the parish or institution (1/3). [Inline note: This is also made normative on a separate basis in # Salary and Benefits during Approved Sabbaticals of Priests.]


1) The first step for any priest interested in the sabbatical is to consult with the Director of Priestly Life and Ministry concerning the various programs, their availability, requirements, evaluation, etc.

2) The individual priest should prepare to identify and engage his own replacement and project sabbatical costs to the appropriate budget authority. The diocese shall provide assistance to the individual priest in locating a replacement. Short of appointing or guaranteeing a substitute, the diocese shall assist the individual applicant in locating a temporary replacement during the sabbatical absence.

3) The priest shall apply to the Ordinary and the Committee for Priestly Life and Ministry stating the preferences and purposes for a sabbatical program. Application forms will be supplied by the Office of Priestly Life and Ministry and should be submitted at least five months prior to the beginning of the desired sabbatical.


When the sabbatical is completed, the priest will consult with the Director of Priestly Life and Ministry concerning ways to continue and share the growth experienced during the sabbatical program. A sabbatical study-leave is given and received with the conscientious understanding that the priest does not intend to leave the diocese when the sabbatical time has passed.

Date approved by Bishop

Posted by
Msgr. S. J. Raica, chancellor