Jobs in the Catholic Church

Whatever your talents, there are employment opportunities in the Catholic Church for those who wish to dedicate part of their life to God. Many parishioners accept small paid positions within their faith while others who have heard the call commit their all to forging a career in the church. Read on for more information about jobs in the Catholic Church that you can obtain with an online theology degree.


Within the Catholic Church, there are two types of priests: religious order priests and diocesan priests. A diocese is a group of parishes, or communities, overseen by a bishop.

Religious order priests belong to a particular religious order within Catholicism, such as the Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits. These priests do not own their own cars or have any possessions. They typically live in small groups together and subsist on a small monthly stipend for toiletries, personal grocery items or entertainment. Most religious order priests do not preside over a parish.

Diocesan priests are appointed to a particular parish by the bishop and must take a vow of obedience to their bishop, as well as make a promise of celibacy. Parish priests are given a modest salary and housing. The house in which a priest lives is called the rectory. Parish priests are responsible for purchasing and maintaining their own automobiles and personal possessions and must pay taxes. Priests may receive gifts when performing baptisms, funerals or weddings, but it is sacrilegious for a priest to ask payment for performing sacred duties.

Parish priests preside over daily Mass, hear confessions every week, anoint and visit the sick, teach catechism (a book that contains Catholic doctrine), witness marriage ceremonies, attend funerals and burials, pray daily, study scripture and religious texts, and provide spiritual counseling to parishioners. Priests are expected to embark on a five-day sabbatical or religious retreat once a year.

Pastoral associates

Pastoral associates include parochial vicars, deacons and altar servers. Parochial vicars used to be called curates or assistant pastors. They are ordained priests, typically new to the priesthood, who assist the pastor with his duties. Deacons are also ordained, but they have no aspirations of being priests. Deacons can preside over some religious ceremonies, including weddings, but they are not permitted to say Mass. They assist the priest in the preparation of the Eucharist and other elements of worship. Altar servers are volunteer lay persons who assist the priests and deacons in preparing the prayer space and altar.


A liturgist’s main duty is to prepare readings and scripture for worship services. The Catholic Church follows a liturgy calendar, so Catholic liturgists must review sermons to ensure they meet guidelines. The liturgist coordinates with the music director, if the church has one. In some churches, the liturgist and music director are merged into one position. The liturgist is responsible for developing a budget for each service. This budget may include provisions for decorations, service bulletins and payment for church workers. Last, but not least, the liturgist maintains the cleanliness of the church and maintains any equipment, like sound systems or other electronics, used in the church.

Sacramental moderators

The sacramental moderator position is relatively new within the Catholic Church. Due to a priest shortage, parish priests are frequently assigned more than one parish by their bishop. A sacramental moderator is a type of priest that performs Mass and the Catholic sacraments (Baptism, First Reconciliation, First Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Vocations to Religious Life), but the daily duties of running the parish are left to the parish administrator.

Parish administrators

The parish administrator is a lay person who runs the administrative operations of the church while the pastor is away. They manage the church’s finances, maintain and coordinate care of the building, keep church office records and may even meet with parishioners in need of guidance.


A catechist is a teacher of Catholic doctrine. Sunday school teachers, theologians, Catholic school teachers and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) teachers are considered catechists. On volunteer or vested terms, they provide instruction to those who are new to the catechism. They lead discussions and answer questions about Catholic beliefs and teachings.

Musicians and cantors

The Church employs musicians and cantors to lead the musical parts of Mass and other rituals. Church services often feature organ, piano, strings and woodwinds. Cantors provide vocal music and should be well-versed in canonical music within the church. Church musicians and singers often perform services at multiple places of worship and can make additional income by lending their talents to weddings and funerals.