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June 7, 2007 Edition

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No surprise: Clergy have highest job satisfaction

If you want to be rich, get an MBA. But if you want to be happy, go for a Master of Divinity degree. That's the finding of a recent report released by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

The survey revealed that members of the clergy ranked highest in job satisfaction. More than 87 percent of clergy - including Catholic priests - said that they were satisfied with their jobs. Next in line were firefighters (80 percent) and physical therapists (78 percent).

Clergy are happiest. Religion News Service discussed the findings, noting that work plays such an important role in people's lives. Workers who are more satisfied also tend to be happier. So clergy also topped the list as the happiest, with 67 percent of them describing themselves as happy.

This finding did not surprise me. Most of the priests I know are happy people. They may have to deal with stress - especially with declining numbers of priests - but they are often joyful, caring people. Most priests have a sense of humor and have hobbies and interests which help keep them balanced.

It is interesting that the most satisfied people come primarily from "helping" professions. Researchers noted that the most satisfied jobs involve people helping others or expressing creativity. Others with high degrees of job satisfaction included education administrators and teachers, psychologists, authors, painters, and sculptors.

Spirituality. What the report didn't discuss in much detail was why clergy are happy. I would assume that the spiritual aspects of ministry would also help lead to happiness in life.

Strong faith should bring happiness and peace. People with faith know they are not alone. God is with them, providing guidance and support.

Priests have a regular prayer life, including individual prayer and worship with a faith community. Many priests are also part of support groups with other priests and even clergy of other denominations. In addition, most priests get positive feedback from their parishioners and others in the community who appreciate their spiritual leadership.

On way to priesthood. The number of seminarians in the Diocese of Madison has more than quadrupled in the past four years. On June 1, Bishop Morlino ordained four men to the transitional diaconate. God willing, they will be ordained priests in 2008. These four men have all expressed how much they have enjoyed their seminary studies and how they are looking forward to their lives as priests.

As one of the new deacons, Patrick Wendler, said, "The Lord has shown me that I can no longer live in my 'me-centered' world. I have to be willing to put it all on the line for the service of others in a loving and caring way."

Hopefully, that path will lead to the job satisfaction and happiness so many clergy apparently feel. We pray that many more men in our diocese will consider a vocation to the priesthood, not only for their own happiness, but for the happiness they can bring to others in serving God and his church.

Mary C. Uhler

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