Interview With Monsignor Stephen Rossetti

By Genevieve Pollock WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 5, 2011 ( – Priests in general are among the happiest members of society, says Monsignor Stephen Rossetti, and contrary to secular opinion, most embrace celibacy as a positive aspect of their vocation.


A National Opinion Research Center recently conducted poll of 27,000 Americans found that clergy in general were the most satisfied and happiest of all Americans.

These were some of the conclusions outlined by Monsignor Rossetti in his book, “Why Priests Are Happy” (Ave Maria Press), which will be released Wednesday.

The author, who is currently serving as associate dean for seminary and ministerial programs at The Catholic University of America, also wrote “Born of the Eucharist,” “The Joy of Priesthood,” and “When the Lion Roars.”

As a licensed psychologist, Monsignor Rossetti previously worked as president and CEO of Saint Luke’s Institute, a treatment and education center for clergy and religious.

The author surveyed 2,500 priests, and made discoveries that modern society might find surprising.

In this interview with ZENIT, he explained some of these findings, including the correlation between a priest’s happiness and his relationship with God and others, and the signs of hope for the future of the priesthood.

ZENIT: Your research showed a conclusion that the public might find surprising: Priests are among the happiest people in the country. Why do we not hear about this happiness more often?

Monsignor Rossetti: There have been a number of studies in the United States over the last few years with exactly the same findings: About 90% of priests report that they are happy. In my study, it was 92.4%.

In a similar study, when the National Opinion Research Center recently conducted its scientific poll of 27,000 Americans, they found that clergy in general were the most satisfied and happiest of all Americans. This is especially remarkable since over 50% of Americans report being unhappy with their jobs.

But this consistent and astounding finding of priestly happiness remains a secret.

Why? First of all, good news doesn’t make the news. Tragedies and scandals fill our front pages but the faces of our many happy priests do not.

Second, and just as important, the secularization of our culture breeds a kind of negativism toward organized religion. There is a secular belief among some today that practicing the faith must be constraining and joyless.

Some modern thinkers suggest that the only way to true human happiness is to be freed from the constraints of religion. They see religion as repressive of one’s true human freedom and humanity. Thus, using this logic, being a priest must be the unhappiest life of all.

Therefore, to hear that priests are among the happiest people in the country is met with disbelief.

The fact of priestly happiness is a fundamental and powerful challenge to the modern secular mind.

But for us Christians, it only confirms the truths of our faith. Jesus prayed, “That my joy might be yours, and your joy might be complete.”

Joy is one of the unmistakable fruits of the Holy Spirit.

To be truly and fully Christian is to know God’s gift of joy. The secular mind searches for this joy, but it is looking in the wrong place.It only makes sense that those men who have dedicated their lives in the service of God and others in the Catholic faith as priests would be slowly and gently filled by God with an inner happiness and joy.

Jesus promised us his joy and it is demonstrably true.

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3 Responses to “Study: Most Priests Are Happy, Appreciate Celibacy”

  1. Alfred Valenti says:

    I truely believe that to be a Priest you must truely beleive inJesus and God.
    I beleive priest’s That where abusive to anyone. Did not believe Jesus is Lord or they would know the consequences of their actions.

    Which if you believe in Hell , would not be a option.
    I have had a calling for many , many years but I did not follow it.
    I am very sorry for that.

  2. Martinus Yap says:

    We ( lay people ) too can obtain happiness as those of the priest, if we live as of our church teaching and of the bible. For the Love of Christ……


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