Do Nuns and Deacons Get Paid? (Comprehensive Guide)

Catholic nuns are known for relinquishing worldly goods and devotion to their faith. But how exactly do they make a living, and do nuns and deacons get paid by the Church?

Do Nuns and Deacons get paid? The Vatican, Rome, Italy

Key Points

  • Nuns and Deacons do not get paid a fixed salary by the Church.
  • Instead they are allowed to hold secular jobs.
  • There may be exceptions in rare cases where Deacons are given a small allowance, but generally, they aren’t paid by the Church.
  • Nuns usually get paid a small stipend by their parish for basic living expenses. The amount of the stipend is variable.

Do Deacons get paid in the Catholic Church?

Under usual circumstances, Deacons are not paid any salary or monetary allowance by the Diocese.

Most Deacons already have an established career before joining the parish and provide for themselves and their family by working a regular, secular job.

However, there are circumstances in which Deacons might get paid by the Church. The website of St. Mary Church states, “The bishop of a diocese may provide a modest allowance to help defray the costs of continuing formation and an annual retreat.”

The parish may sometimes provide funds to the Deacons for religious education, teaching material, and vestment, but there is no regular salary. 

Watch this video if you’re unsure what a Deacon’s job is.

Do you get paid to be a Nun?

The Catholic Church does not pay nuns a fixed salary.

Still, most get a stipend covering their minimal living expenses. The amount is nothing unreasonable and just enough for them to cover their necessities such as food and rent. 

Nuns are allowed to have jobs, and many work as teachers, nurses, accountants, and social workers. However, because they vow poverty, they hand over all their earnings to the Church. The money goes towards funding various projects and paying bills and stipends.

So even if a nun earns a handsome salary from her secular job, they relinquish their earnings, and the money is used to benefit their community.

The stipend given to nuns is variable and depends on the size of the community and the geographical location.

How much money does the Nun earn?

nuns at work

It is hard to calculate the total amount of money a nun earns as they give it to the Church and receive a small allowance to cover their living expenses. The Church distributes this money among members of the convent.

However, an estimate of a nun’s salary would range from $24,370 to $69,940 per annum.

The average is around $41,890 as a median salary.

Who pays the Deacons and Nuns?

The Church pays the Deacons and Nuns. The amount varies from parish to parish and usually is not a very large sum but enough to cover basic expenses.  

The diocese determines priests’ salaries, and the average wage of clergy members is around $57,230. Nuns are paid a stipend by their respective communities.

Most nuns and priests take a vow of poverty to distance themselves from transient material possessions and adopt a frugal lifestyle. 

What is the Vow of Poverty?

Members of the clergy who take a vow of poverty resolve to forgo worldly pleasures and possessions and live a life of simplicity. Catholic priests and nuns commonly take it.

Individuals who take the vow of poverty intend to detach themselves from temporary material pleasures and become closer to the divine. The Vow of Poverty is part of the three vows taken by the clergy; the others are the vow of chastity and obedience.

How many years does it take to become a Deacon in the Catholic Church?

Before becoming a deacon, a person must study for many years to be eligible. Transitional Deacons study a five-year program at a seminary unless they already have a college degree. A two-year study of Catholic Philosophy is further required.

After that, studying for three years at a major seminary is necessary. They can then be ordained into the Diaconate. Not everyone can become a deacon as certain conditions exist that a person must fulfil beforehand. 

First, the man must be at least thirty-five years of age, baptized, and a practicing member of the Church. He must also have been with the Church for five years before being ordained.

Is being a Deacon a full-time job?

Being ordained and becoming a deacon is something permanent that is nothing short of a proper job as Deacons have to work a certain amount of hours and perform many duties in the liturgy, Word, and charity ministries.

Deacons are expected to devote 8-10 hours per week to Diaconate Ministry, and most voluntarily put in more time. Keep in mind that most Deacons in a community already do have a secular full-time job that they have to do to support themselves financially. 

Some Deacons may also be employed by the Church in management or teaching positions. As this is a job outside of their regular duties, they are paid by the Church for their work. This may be a part-time or full-time position. 

Do Nuns get Social Security benefits?

Nuns are not typically eligible for social security benefits, although a few exceptions exist.

In general, religious sisters are not considered employees of the church, so they are not covered by social security. However, some orders may provide their retirement and health care benefits.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule. For example, a nun may be eligible for social security benefits if a Catholic school employs a nun.

Additionally, some religious orders may have retirement and health care benefits programs that provide coverage for their members.

It is important to check with your religious order or employer to see what kind of coverage you may be eligible for.

Many nuns get benefits such as Medicare and Medicaid in the US if they are eligible for it. However, most get reduced benefits compared to typical, secularly employed people. 

Their social security benefits are lower as elderly nuns get around $3,333 per year in social security pension checks. The average pension for most retired people is around $9,650 annually. 

Do Nuns and Deacons pay taxes?

As long as they work for the Church and have taken a vow of poverty, clergy members such as priests, monks, and nuns do not have to pay taxes.

The reason is that they earn a very nominal amount of money on which tax isn’t applicable and live frugally.

There is an exception, though. If a clergy member has not taken a vow of poverty and is salaried, they will be taxed as usual by the IRS.

How long does it take to become a Nun?

Even if your experience of nunhood is limited to watching the movie ‘The Conjuring’ (we don’t blame you!), you might be wondering what it takes to become a nun?

Certain preexisting conditions must be fulfilled to join the order, such as:

  • To become a Catholic nun, you must be at least 18 years of age with no children and financial debts.
  • You must first spend some time observing and interacting with nuns, called the ‘discernment’ period, which will help you decide whether nunhood is suitable for you.
  • After you become a Catholic Nun, you will apply to become a part of the order. 
  • You will be required to study and live in the convent for several months if selected. 
  • Then you will be initiated as a novice and given a different name.
  • After spending two years, you will take your first vows and your final vows three years later.

What is the purpose of a Deacon in the Catholic Church?

Although Deacons are below in rank of priests and bishops, they have an essential role in the community as members of the clergy. 

Deacons assist the priest during mass and can carry out baptizations, perform funeral services, officiate and bless marriages, give Holy Communion, and are majorly involved in charitable and community-based tasks.

What level is a Deacon?

There is a specific hierarchy that exists within the Catholic church clergy.

There are three ranks in total; a Bishop is the highest rank, followed by a Priest, and then a Deacon (a member of a Diaconate). 

To become a Priest, Deacons must graduate and take the Rite of Ordination. They can usually do this after a year of being a deacon.

Final Thoughts

Deciding to become a nun or deacon is no joke. It requires time, devotion, and commitment while giving up most material comforts and living within limited means.

Nuns and Deacons take vows of poverty to distance themselves from accumulating wealth and material possessions. This vow is a sign of their faith and devotion.

The Church gives Nuns a small stipend covering their necessities to pay their living expenses.

Deacons work regular jobs to provide for themselves and their families. The Church does not give them any reasonable salary, but some rare exceptions exist.

If you’re thinking of becoming a Nun or Deacon, you must do your research.

Remember that becoming a clergy member is undoubtedly not something that is done with money as the goal. 

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