Character Matters: The HR for Priests

Boston’s priests give themselves to their parishioners each and every day. But who is there for them when they’re in need? A CM alum. That’s who. 
West Roxbury native, Mike Scannell ’83, P’17, ’20 is the executive director of the Boston-based, Clergy Trust: an independently managed trust that provides care and support for all active and senior diocesan priests across the Archdiocese of Boston who are in good standing. The kind of support the trust offers is the kind that most of us have but don’t ever think a person of the cloth might also need.

“It’s an incredibly worthy vocation,” says Scannell, speaking about the work priests do. “And priests are always there for their communities during the best of times, as well as the worst of times. It can be a very challenging job, as well as a lonely one. Parishes aren’t filled with priests the way they were and the lack of company can hit someone hard.”

It’s why the Clergy Trust handles medical insurance, medical care, and retirement funds as well as overseeing Regina Cleri, the clergy retirement home in Boston’s West End.

As Scannell explains, “Many folks will just assume that priests are being cared for and that, ‘Jeez, I give my money towards a collection every weekend, or the Cardinal’s appeal each year that’s supporting the priests.’, but it isn’t.”

The trust still has to raise funds and take collections, but it doesn’t cover the full cost of care and retirement needs. “We have to be much more creative and innovative in terms of how we were going to reach Catholics who may not be in church every weekend, not to mention the new generation,” says Scannell.

Storytelling is the answer. Sharing the stories of what priests do day-to-day and how they affect their communities, according to Scannell is the most influential in terms of people’s sentiment.

“You know, there’s really no days off for priests,” he says, taking a page out of Belichick’s book of quotes. “Because if a call comes in to go perform last rites, whether it’s to be with someone that may be dying, they go.”

There is much to be said for someone helping those who help others. Noble? Altruistic? Big-hearted? Whatever the term, there is nothing so warming as to experience the gratitude from those people for whom you serve.

“My mum passed away in July (2023),” says Scannell. “We arrived at St. Theresa’s, for the funeral mass, and there were 13 priests who came out on the altar. My whole family was blown away, and when I was thanking each priest for being there, they said, ‘We know you’re there for us. So, we need to be there for you.’ It just took my breath away and reinforced that what I do is so worthwhile.”