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Pastoral Psychology


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With ever-increasing demands placed upon active priests in the United States, insight into protecting their mental health may help strengthen vocational resilience for individual priests. The purpose of this study was to examine the association of individual variables, workplace characteristics, and physical activity participation with occupational distress levels among Catholic priests. A 22-question survey consisting of a demographic questionnaire, the Clergy Occupational Distress Index, and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire was employed to collect individual variables, workplace characteristics, physical activity participation, and occupational distress levels of Catholic priests from the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Regression analyses showed that the number of years ordained (β = −.24, p < .01) and number of priests residing together (β = −.11, p = .05) were negatively associated with occupational distress levels. Collectively, these demographic, workplace, and physical activity variables accounted for about 10% of the variances in priest participant occupational distress scores. Findings suggest that novice priests may be more susceptible to occupational distress than veteran priests and that those living in multi-priest households tend to show lower levels of occupational distress. (Arch)dioceses may find the results of the current study useful for planning housing situations for priests or to better help novice priests meet the demands of their vocation.


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© The Author(s) 2024

Original Publication Citation

Kostick, M. D., Zhu, X. H., Haegele, J. A., & Baker, P. (2024). Predictors of occupational distress of Catholic priests on the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Pastoral Psychology. Advance online publication.


0000-0001-5015-1219 (Kostick), 0000-0002-5048-3464 (Zhu), 0000-0002-8580-4782 (Haegele)