Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 139–155 | Cite as

Depression and Contributors to Vocational Satisfaction in Roman Catholic Secular Clergy

  • Sarah KnoxEmail author
  • Stephen G. Virginia
  • Jessica Thull
  • John P. Lombardo


A nationally selected, random sample of Roman Catholic secular (i.e., diocesan) priests was examined using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale and an instrument developed for this study to assess contributors to priests' vocational satisfaction. In addition, a self-report inventory gathered information regarding participants' demographics as well as four categories of predictor variables (i.e., overall level of vocational satisfaction, social support, spiritual activities, physical environment). The study yielded a response rate of 45%. Secular clergy reported rates of depression approximately seven times greater than are found in the general population, and also indicated that the recent sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic church had negatively affected their mood. Priests' engagement in sacramental activities contributed greatly to their vocational satisfaction, and low levels of vocational satisfaction were found to be most predictive of depression. Factors comprising priests' vocational satisfaction were External Manifestations (e.g., preaching, teaching), Internal Manifestations (e.g., prayer life, affirmation of God's call), and Social Manifestations (e.g., relationships with parishioners, appreciation from others).


depression vocational satisfaction Roman Catholic priests 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Knox
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Stephen G. Virginia
    • 2
  • Jessica Thull
    • 1
  • John P. Lombardo
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationMarquette UniversityMilwaukee
  2. 2.Tribunal of the Roman Catholic Diocese of ColumbusOhio
  3. 3.Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, School of EducationMarquette UniversityMilwaukee

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