In the C of E, the rector was the person entitled to the whole tithes of a parish. At first the rector was the incumbent, and it is when these two positions are still combined that the term is most familiar. Where, however, the tithes were appropriated to a monastery or other spiritual body, the clergyman in the parish was merely the rector's vicar (substitute) or curate. See also vicar; team ministry; and lay rector.
In the RC Church the heads of seminaries and Jesuit houses are commonly styled rectors. Otherwise rectors are normally priests with the care of churches which are not parochial, capitular, or attached to a religious community or society.
Subjects: History — Christianity.