Sources of Support for Priests
as Noted in the Recent Hoge-Wenger Study
Priests receive their strongest support from their families, non-priest friends, and staff members where they minister.
They receive less support from fellow priests, their bishops, their presbyteral councils, leaders of their institutes (if religious), and the Vatican. . . .
The Meaning of Family
In interviews it was asked where priests get their most support. Father Jack, age 49, told about the support from his family:
The primary support system for me is my family. Thatís just beyond telling. My family and I all get along very well, I have one brother and four sisters. Weíre very close, we can call each other for anything and yet we donít get n each otherís business. Weíre very supportive. They are the rock-bed of my support system.
Thirty-seven-old Father Hank told about support from his family:
Theyíre not local. Which is a whole different aspect of modern priesthood. The detachment of the individual priest from his family because of the distance creates a whole different set of dynamics and needs. When you live on your own long enough, you begin to realize that whatever the dysfunctions in your own family may be, these are people with whom you have this easy relationship ó a key ó that always turns your lock, as it were. It just fits in a way, there is a comfort that just isnít with anyone else, or that you have to sit and explain. There is no awkwardness there. The known. Itís the known, itís the familiar, itís the people you grew up with. That level of familiarity I think can reduce stress. If youíre around people like that a little bit more, it can reduce your own personal stress level because you are understood. Without speaking, you are understood. Whereas when youíre only dealing with your friends, trying to draw support only from your friends, itís a lot more work and there are a lot more interpersonal confusions.