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Why Priests Are Happy: A Study of the Psychological and Spiritual Health of Priests (Ave Maria Press) Paperback – October 24, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A wonderful example of how the sciences and the candid survey of priest respondents reveal the reasons why the Catholic priesthood remains among the happiest vocations to be studied. ...refreshing and enlightening at the same time."--Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta


"At last some good news about priests! A must read for the laity, seminarians, priests, and especially bishops."--Cokie Roberts, Journalist and Author


"By clearing away the debris of myth and public prejudice, [Rossetti] helps the Church focus on the very real challenges facing the priesthood."--From the Foreword by John L. Allen Jr., Senior Correspondent, National Catholic Reporter


"Useful and sage advice to ensure the health and wellness of our present and future priests and provides an invaluable tool for those responsible for their formation. Indeed, all the faithful would benefit from reading it!"--Msgr. Robert Panke, President, National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors


"This will be an important study for priests and all those involved in their formation and care."--Rev. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., Author of I Am With You Always


"At long last, there exists a highly scientific and large-scale study from a well-respected expert on the challenges of the American priesthood! It reveals a 'secret' joy in the celibate priestly vocation of today--a high level of satisfaction, happiness, and psychological health! Thanks Msgr. Stephen Rossetti!" --Msgr. Peter J. Vaghi, Author of The Commandments We Keep

About the Author

Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, a priest of the Diocese of Syracuse, is a licensed psychologist, bestselling author, and sought-after expert on clergy and religious. He served as president and CEO of Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland and is currently a clinical associate professor of pastoral studies at the Catholic University of America. Rossetti has been featured on NPR and "Meet the Press," and has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other major newspapers.

John L. Allen Jr. is National Catholic Reporter Senior Editor and author of The Future Church.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ave Maria Press (October 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594712743
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594712746
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #362,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an important book, not only about Catholic priests, but also about the nature of church life across America. While you might immediately discount the central finding that priests are among America's happiest professionals, the truth is: This research is solid, based on a wide range of interviews nationwide and it is backed up by an earlier major wave of research, as well. What's more, the central finding about clergy happiness was just backed up in a separate research study reported in Forbes.

Who is Stephen Rossetti? He is the associate dean for the School of Theology and Religious Studies at Catholic University of America. These days, leading journalists turn to Rossetti as an articulate, rigorous advisor trying to improve life throughout his church. Evidence of that viewpoint is the fact that two leading promoters of Rossetti's new book are John Allen, Vatican expert for the National Catholic Reporter, CNN and NPR, plus ABC and NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts.

Here is Rossetti's own summary of his "headline" conclusions: "The overall findings of this study are clear and, when combined with similar findings in other studies, incontrovertible: Priests, as a group, are very happy with their lives and their vocations. They are among the happiest of any people in the country."

Why read this book if you're not Catholic? Many of the findings are surprising and are widely applicable to anyone interested in religious life. Here is one example among many. Rossetti asked in detail about each respondent's experience with prayer, then he compared that with other factors in the research project. He found: "Private prayer is directly correlated with improvement in both one's psychic and spiritual health.
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This book is an accessible and well-researched look at the general state of mind of the clergy. It should come as no surprise to find a correlation between individual happiness and sense of purpose and prayer life. I must say that the findings in the book echo my observations of the mental health of the religious I have known throughout my life. Most priests and nuns of my acquaintance have been examples of people who have approached life with a regard for others, a strong sense of purpose and a sense of joy in, and appreciation of, the beauties and challenges of daily life. As someone brought up in a traditional Catholic environment, I have perhaps been acquainted with hundreds of religious, and I can point to two in my life of whom I would say that they were not well-suited to their vocation or adjusted in their lives. This flies in the face of popular, modern prejudices, as modern psychobabble would have it that anybody who is not sexually active is a mass of sexual repression and anxieties. This book shows just how much we as a society are brainwashed by the baby boomer sexual consumer culture. Priests are grounded by a faith and a purpose. They are people who are focussed on others. They are people who see the riches of the world not in terms of material possessions. When you look at them, and their belief system, handed down from the apostles, is it any surprise that they are happy? It would be more of a surprise if they were not!
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Msgr. Rossetti shows through extensive research and study of priests across the country many areas of the priest's life and work. The obvious conclusion is that this group of professionals, more than any other on a national scale, live a 'happy and contented life' because of their individual and collective proven spiritual basis. Every serious believer should study "Why Priests are Happy" and adopt Msgr's findings in their own lives. It is truly a timely read and about time someone needed to say it. "Why Priests are Happy" is a Psychological and Spiritual Health of Priests (Ave Maria Press) study.
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Format: Paperback
In this detailed analysis of two extensive surveys with Catholic priests, Msgr. Stephen Rossetti found some of the predictors to happiness in the Catholic priesthood. At a time of crisis in the U.S. Catholic priesthood with negative media attention, often lacking fairness and objectivity, Msgr. Rossetti adds perspective on the reality of the Catholic clergy noting that in general priests report being relatively happy. The factors most closely related to happiness include a sense of inner peace, relationship with God, view of celibacy, relationship with their bishop, obedience to religious authority, having close friends, peer support, prayer and the sacrament of penance, and the experiences highly correlated with lack of happiness include loneliness and lack of appreciation, anger problems, dysfunctional childhood, childhood mental health problems, sexual conflicts, and difficulties feeling forgiven. Based on the findings of the two survey studies, his recommendations to vocation/formation personnel, priests, and to bishops are very helpful. He suggests, for example, that one get the word out: priesthood is a very fulfilling and happy vocation. In his view, the sometimes negative image of priesthood is largely a myth. Another recommendation is that sometimes during the formative years, seminary formators should work intensely with seminarians on their spiritual formation, fostering a direct, personal relationship with God. Seminarians should also be trained to see celibacy as a gift from God and as a personal grace. Similarly, the seminary and formators should assist seminarians in their development of good friendships, and seriously isolated men should be screened out.Read more ›
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