Feeling a little down--two distinct issues
  • mamaherrera
    Posts: 48
    I feel a little down, as the music director of my parish. I get paid the minimum wage here in NM, but supposedly my benefits are to do all quinceaneras, funerals, and weddings. Two issues: when there are special events, like a retreat, the church ministries that plan them, bring in other musicians from other churches. The lady in charge of hispanic ministries, doesn't like me, so she gives phone numbers of musicians from other parishes to come and do the quinceaneras. I put in so much time, planning, preparing liturgy formation and such for the choirs I oversee, and I feel like I'm not appreciated or part of the team.

    The other big issue is I have a girl in my choir (very good singer, everyone loves her) but she has a mental disorder, borderline personality disorder and feeds off of attention, claiming she has illnesses, singing all solos, etc. and she is currently angry at me because I have subtlely let her know that I'm in charge. So now at rehearsals you can feel her rage, she says nothing, but it is very harsh to deal with someone like that. I have talked to the priest once, but he makes light of the situation and just says that she does well in what she does at mass. . . . she's great at performance, but again, it gives her attention . Any insights on these two situations would be appreciated. Thanks
    Andrea
  • Sit down with the pastor and dir of hispanic events and make sure that he confirms that he hired you with the understanding you would be responsible for all music, especially the add ons like these, as part of your pay.

    If he is not willing to confirm that and stand behind it, ask for a raise and make it clear that you would really like to stay (with a smile) but the terms that you accepted the job under are not what is actually happening.

  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,717
    I agree with SacredMusic about the first issue. That is a personnel issue between you and the parish.

    About the second, I think that one of the things many priests want in a dm is someone who will keep awkward situations off his plate. The choir member is under your supervision and that sort of making light of the situation is probably the priest's way of saying he would prefer to not be involved.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,717
    Btw, in my opinion most priests are not exactly comfortable with women employees who don't like each other. Gives them the willies and makes it hard for the priest to work with either. Treat everything as a business matter, calm and direct. Try to make up with the ladies who don't like you if possible, even if it's their fault. Make it clear that you're happy to work there and that everything is under control.
  • mamaherrera
    Posts: 48
    Thanks for all the great advice. I will be open to more and will meditate on what's been given. I feel really nervous about meeting with the hisp. director and the priest. I already told him, but because she does all hispanic events, 100%, he has nothing to do with it and there's no way to monitor her. It's her word against mine. If she says that people are just choosing other musicians, what can I say? the problem is that she is the responsible person for giving them other musicians' information. Maybe putting my information in the bulletin?'
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,717
    Why not invite her out for coffee or even have her over for dinner with your family or a choir member or two? Make friends, at least invite a thaw in the relationship.

    Even if you buy her dinner, that's less $$$ than a quinceanera :) And even if your kindness doesn't "work," I think you'll be glad you made the effort to reach out.

    On the other hand, I agree that you should be informed about events. Is there a secretary who schedules events in the church?
  • mamaherrera
    Posts: 48
    yes I am informed, and that's why I' know I've been dissed all summer long. And I've discussed this with her various times. . . Ive told her that some people have come to me after mass, asking if the choir does these services, and that she (when she registers them) gives them no information about music. But now she has a "favorite" couple, from another church, and she has been giving out their number instead of mine. I know, because I've heard from church members, that they are doing all the masses, and one time, a "marriage" couple dialed my number looking for this couple. And she's the only one that would be able to make that mistake, as she has my number and theirs. I'm very nice to her all the time, but she has some kind of deep grudge against me, she wasn't like this before . But I've talked about it with her and she just says that my number is in the contract, but like Ive explained to her, "no one reads the contract" she needs to make it very clear of what is available and she shouldn't be sending people off elsewhere. I understand if a quinceanera has an uncle who has a band or something, but it shouldn't be her pushing others on the community so that I miss out completely. 20 quinceaneras this year ,and I didn't do a single one. what a coincidence .
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 794
    You should have right of first refusal. Period. If they want to bring in someone else, they should be required to pay you your usual fee and should also be responsible for paying the other musicians. This is called a "bench fee" and it's AGO standard. Not everyplace follows through on it, obviously...

    Tell the priest that this director of Hispanic ministry is taking $2,000+ out of your pocket (20x$100). If your usual fee is higher, then it's even more out of your pocket. You're supposed to live on minimum wage and then get no stipends on top of it? That's patently unfair, and I wouldn't stand for it if I had any other options at all.
  • mamaherrera
    Posts: 48
    Do you have a link for AGO standard, so I can show them this?? I have a priest from India, only been here six months, totally lost culturally and language wise and everyone is pulling a good one over his eyes. And would this be something you bring up at a staff meeting?? I had a meeting wit him about it and he told me to bring it up at the staff meeting, which I think it means he did nothing to address the problem. And I made it clear to him what you have just said. .. . It's so frustrating and I feel so impotent and so disrespected. Seriously. I know it's all for God, and it is but when you see all this junk going on, it takes a toll on ya.
  • What's clear as day is that you are the MD in name only, and that that's not likely to change.
    If that is unpleasant to you (which it would be to anyone) follow SacredMusic's advice and
    cast your eyes elsewhere for a more honest and virtuous arrangement.
    Thanked by 2mamaherrera canadash
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,837
    But now she has a "favorite" couple, from another church, and she has been giving out their number instead of mine. I know, because I've heard from church members, that they are doing all the masses, and one time, a "marriage" couple dialed my number looking for this couple. And she's the only one that would be able to make that mistake, as she has my number and theirs.


    If you want to fight it, you have to show your evidence to the pastor, and explain to him how you know that you are being intentionally passed over in favor of the Hispanic Ministry Director's (HMD) personal contacts. The HMD is playing favorites here, and you need to prove it. From your accounts, it also seems like the HMD is intentionally keeping the pastor out of the situation: things are taken care of, and she's hoping that the priest doesn't look into the details. That also being said, the fact that the pastor isn't looking into the details is not all that uncommon: they're busy people and if they're not shown that there is a problem, it's likely they are unaware of it. My experience has been that, especially with musical matters, as long as there's music and people aren't complaining (influential people aren't complaining) about it, he doesn't see the problem. You have to show him how you know you've been intentionally passed over in this case.

    You should have right of first refusal. Period. If they want to bring in someone else, they should be required to pay you your usual fee and should also be responsible for paying the other musicians. This is called a "bench fee" and it's AGO standard.


    Irishtenor is correct. You should, as the DM, have the right of first refusal, and receive a bench fee if the HMD wants to bring in her favorite couple instead of giving the work and the money to you. It's ultimately up to you if you want to charge a bench fee, but your pastor may not be too happy about it, because it is likely to upset things politically in the parish. You also have to consider how you would enforce the bench fee if the HMD refuses to pay it or inform families about it. You could just show up at the event, and insist on playing anyway, but then you're inciting a conflict, and possible legal action when the family refuses to pay you because they didn't agree that you'd be the musician. The pastor certainly won't like that. Remember, in our musically illiterate culture (at least in the US), people are already loathe to pay for music unless it's a recording of or tickets to see their favorite pop artist.

    What's clear as day is that you are the MD in name only, and that that's not likely to change.
    If that is unpleasant to you (which it would be to anyone) follow SacredMusic's advice and
    cast your eyes elsewhere for a more honest and virtuous arrangement.


    This is your best option, I think. Shake the dust from your sandals and move on to greener pastures. If you show your evidence to the pastor, and he does nothing about it, find another position, and then tender your resignation. Make sure you tell him exactly why. Be diplomatic about it, but tell him the truth.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,717
    Btw, I definitely think you should renegotiate your contract for now, even if you are looking for your next position.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 296
    Reading on this forum of priest's and parishes failure to fulfill even the most basic tenets of Catholic Social Teaching by paying a just and living wage and other things is incensing.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,404
    Quinceanera, Day of the Dead, and assorted things are not liturgical, so I wonder why anyone is fooling with them in a church context to begin with. I think I would want out of that place if I were you, but ymmv.

    If she is Hispanic, report her to ICE and tell them she's illegal and up to no good.

    Better yet, I would look for greener pastures.
  • mamaherrera
    Posts: 48
    Charles at least you made me laugh!
    and thanks to you all, it is good to have this support, because it feels very lonely in the music world here where I'm at. Thanks and God bless. I couldn't sleep thinking of ways to present this at our staff meeting. But i'm such a coward and when I get in there, it never comes out that way!
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 794
    This isn't an issue for a staff meeting, as far as I'm concerned. You and the pastor should come to an agreement, and then he should enforce it.

    Personnel issues like this (especially where it might require a mild rebuke of another staff member) are not for discussion in a group. Too many people, too many opinions.

    The only way I could see this being appropriate is if the staff meeting only consists of the three of you.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • PaxMelodious
    Posts: 172
    Sorry - but why are you messing around with this parish for minimum wage? Go find a minimum wage job that doesn't require any off-the-clock work (ideally one that has tips as well!), and volunteer for a church doing only what suits you. Or a better job and ditto.
  • There is another approach. Announce in the bulletin over and over again, that as director of music you are pleased to lead a free session about picking the right music for the Q in this parish, letting the families meet with you (and each other) to share ideas and guidance. There will be snacks and (if you are not a strong in Spanish) a parish member translator. ¡And they get to hear snippets of the music to choose from¡

    And make sure that Father appears and says hello to them.
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,206
    I've been in a particularly difficult situation before. It was similar to the one you describe with the soloist. I thought I didn't have a choice. Then my priest told me that I did, that I had the choice to let the singer go. It was a loss, but I was so.much.happier.

    As mentioned above, if you don't have what you need to survive, then find greener pastures. I would not wish to live in the stress of your job. Dealing with these women must be hell. It was always so difficult to go to church and to Mass with such feelings of animosity and anger. What is it with women in these positions? I don't get it. God bless.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,404
    What is it with women in these positions? I don't get it. God bless.


    Maybe it's the better to rule in hell than serve in heaven thing. It amazes me how people will stake out little fiefdoms and jealously guard them, when they have nothing of significance to begin with. Ego? Pride? Compensation for powerlessness in other areas of their lives? Who knows?
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,837
    I have noticed that for some, the church is where they play out their little power struggles with each other, and woe to he who gets in the way of it.
  • yes it is so that . why I don't understand. All I want to do is work to better our ministries and liturgies in our parish and these power struggles is just the devil getting in the way . It's so sad. . . . I'm going to come up with a policy and if my priest doesn't back it up and enforce it, I'm done .
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,837
    Consult with him on the policy before you implement it. If he does not agree, then you know your course of action without any further embarrassment.
    Thanked by 1mamaherrera
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 794
    Agreed with CK. No need to have him fail to back you publicly.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 429
    One of the big problems is that so many of the PIPs think that everyone but the priest is a volunteer, and that the priest only gets a small salary because the parish pays for his housing, his insurance, his groceries, etc.
  • yes very good point. Thanks you all. . .it's so tough. I tried this week to do a choir leader meeting. .. no response! thanks for all the support. . . I don't feel so alone.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,717
    Re: priest vs. lay Church worker salaries, very interesting article.
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • This is what I've prepared to show the priest tomorrow and request that he support this. I plan to then have the Hispanic lady that doesn't like me, change her form that she gives people to include my fee as part of the package. What do you think?? Any suggestions, welcomes . I get paid $15 per hour as choir director, and am limited to 33.5 hours, per month. Which is why I was given this "benefit" of doing all weddings, funerals, etc. And this Hispanic lady has been bypassing me to give all the work to her friends, and to spite me. I feel bad for other people who don't abuse, but are just family members who want to play at their family's funeral, etc. but I have to make a rule that really doesn't have exceptions or I will be taken advantage of again. Let me know what you think!!


    The music rates are included with the payment made to the church. It needs to be paid in full three weeks before the event.
    You need to call the music director, at least three weeks before the wedding/quinceanera to arrange for appropriate music. Obviously, for funerals, as soon, call as soon as possible. If you have family members who want to sing a song before, during or after the mass, they need to talk with the music director to make sure their selection is appropriate. Other musicians brought in, like mariachi also must meet with the music director to assure the liturgy will be done appropriately. The music rate is still paid, regardless. No outside musicians are allowed without having first paid the fee and met with the music director. She is also available to be at the event, to help out in any way necessary.
    If they want special songs that require extra time to prepare, or extra musicians, arrangements can be made, talking with the director about the details.
  • I would add the quote about coming properly dressed to the wedding banquet -- as context for your authority to rule on what is appropriate.
    Thanked by 1mamaherrera
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,717
    I think having the form changed is a good idea, but that in the situation as you've described it, she might find a way around it, unless the parish secretary is committed to collecting the fee for you.

  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 794
    I agree with @Kathy , that you should make sure that the priest conveys to this woman that each and every quinceanera, wedding, and funeral will have music provided by the music director (YOU). There may be (at your discretion) other musicians involved, but that you will play and be paid for each and every one. Don't include any loopholes, because they are sure to be exploited.

    This was part of the agreement under which you accepted the position in the first place. All the parties involved knew that $500/month wouldn't cut it, so this was included as a way to augment your income. It's part of the deal.
  • Thanks!
  • janetgorbitzjanetgorbitz
    Posts: 768
    I agree... if part of your compensation is assumed to be these weddings and quinceanera events that are being offered to you, your pastor will have to make it clear to the Hispanic Ministries Director, office secretary, parish wedding planner, or anyone else who does this scheduling that YOU will be scheduled for the music for these events and no others are allowed without your authorization. That way, when something is scheduled, it will be made clear to the families, that it is part of YOUR job to provide music for these events. If you are unable to provide music for a particular event, in that case another outsider could be allowed...