Two-Timing

The adjective often has a sexual connotation in a relationship. I’m not sure it doesn’t apply to perhaps two parish situations I’ve heard about recently.

In one, a liturgy/music colleague in another diocese reports that though the parish position is “part-time,” the job duties more often surpass forty hours a week. This parish, so the report goes, while not a very large one, is large enough to support a school. I spoke to my friend about the tithing principle of thirty families supporting a full-time minister (20 families giving 5% of income) plus supporting the church infrastructure (personnel should generally be positioned at 2/3rds of a church budget). Seven-hundred families–with three weekend Masses–is easily large enough to support a professional music and liturgy effort.

My colleague didn’t ask me for advice, but informed me that the job wasn’t going to be filled for much longer. I don’t know if my colleague is one of those good-hearted people who always say “How high?” when Father says “Jump!” It’s been a long time since I’ve had a part-time position in a parish. I do know that with a family and other life responsibilities, I would be very clear with a pastor about expectations. In the Church, if you have a salaried position, as I do, you do what it takes. Short of craziness, of course. If the Church employs someone for twenty hours, then you work twenty hours. If a parish employs someone part-time (to pay less and avoid giving benefits) and expects the individual to regularly work full-time hours, then I would say the pastor or supervisor is on the moral level of a prostitute. I could use the cruder word, and it might be more accurate.

In another parish, I heard second-hand that a full-time employee was reduced to part-time, but later let go due to an “attitude problem.”

A normal attitude would have the employee informing supervisors that a limited budget for payroll means a limited budget of time to accomplish work. Sure, I can easily imagine a person thinking, “Well, I really need some of this job. So maybe I can curb my resentment.” Only later to find an inner simmer supervisors don’t like.

If an employer thinks they can reduce a person’s salary and not invest in some sort of damage control, I can’t condone that kind of wishful thinking.

While the pope and his handlers might be more concerned with clown masses or even the valid abuses of pragmatists and enthusiasts, I have to think a more common problem is the unjust expectations often placed on those who deliver artistic leadership in parishes. While I applaud Neil and others promoting a scholarly widened view of worship, I have to wonder if a more basic commandment is being missed. Don’t steal from employees: either their time or their money.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to Two-Timing

  1. M.. says:

    The new pastor at the Parish I work for reguarly complains that I’m not in my office 8-5. He does not take into consideration that I as a music director:

    -Work evenings two nights per week.
    -Work Saturday evening and Sunday morning, while my co-workers are out partying or in bed sleeping.
    -Need to practice since I’m the principal musician. My office does not have an acceptable instrument (a keyboard with no working pedals) and I’d be killed if I heated the Church for me to rehearse in there.
    -The fact that while my coworkers are visiting family, etc.. on holidays, I’m in Church working.

    Why I would need to be in my office 8-5 is beyond me… I would just end up reading blogs and commenting on them… Oh shoot, I’m doing that right now!

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    It’s a matter of priorities, and overall Catholic penuriousness. If it is some new liturgical tschotske that the Pastor wants, or one of the more connected group wants, the money will be found. However, if the overall appreciation of a vibrant music program is lacking, then the money will not be found.

    If a parish with 400 members can support a music budget of about $100,000 (including the salary of a full-time M/D @ $55,000 + benefits) then a larger parish should be able to do it hands down.

    As has been said more than one time: actions speak (much) louder than words.

  3. Jimmy Mac says:

    Oops — penury is the word, not penuriousness.

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