Clergy’s tricks to find privacy in the parish
CLERGY SOMETIMES ‘hide from constant callers’ in the parish, new research reveals.
A Lancaster University asked 46 deans questions relating to the ‘personal costs of committing yourself to God’, finding some have to take a break from the pressures of being at the centre of the parish.
The leader of the study, Dr Caroline Gatrell, said her findings show ‘living in the vicarage is different from what you would do in most jobs’, resulting in some clergy having to ‘develop strategies for coping’.
The Rt Rev Dr Nigel Peyton co-authored the study and said it was “revealing that every interview was interrupted in some way by a caller at the door or on the phone”.
The Bishop of Brechin said: “Being a priest is like being a monarch, as you can’t resign and your job is your life.
“As the vicar in the very accurate sitcom Rev said, ‘there is no such thing as a day off when you are a vicar’.
“You do not have the same opportunities or freedom as other people and this does entail sacrifices.”
The survey showed the conflicts with living in a vicarage, with some respondents telling of how their homes were used as the parish office, often finding secretaries working in the bedrooms, or during community lunches experiencing members of the congregation going into their kitchen and helping themselves to the contents of the cupboards.
One interviewee spoke of the battle to preserve bank holidays, hiding in the back of the house if they did not go out.
Dr Gatrell said: “They put the car in the garage and shut the door and went upstairs to a room at the back of the house, pulled all the blinds and watched TV and read with their family. If someone knocked on the door, they pretended to be out.”