Service awards banquet proceeds to benefit senior priests

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PROVIDENCE — With nominations for the 2017 Lumen Gentium Awards slated to close on February 10, the Diocese of Providence has announced that the proceeds from a May 17 dinner to formally recognize those who have made significant contributions to the life of the Church will be used to support diocesan senior priests.

“It is the 5th year of the Lumen Gentium Awards Dinner and it seems fitting to earmark the evening’s proceeds to help a group of men who have continue to serve our diocese well into their older years,” said Andrea H. Krupp, executive director of the Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island.

Msgr. Raymond Bastia, vicar for Planning and Financial Services for the Diocese of Providence, told Rhode Island Catholic said that there is a marked change in the life of a priest when they enter into retirement, usually beginning at age 70, a time in which they no longer have a modest salary to help them meet the added financial responsibilities they must now face.

For senior priests, he said, room and board are no longer provided. They also lose some other benefits that active priests would have, such as reimbursement for car insurance.

Although priests are encouraged to account for these expenses and plan for their retirement needs, salaries of senior priests were significantly lower when they were ordained. While priests serving in religious orders take vows of poverty and are cared for, diocesan senior priests are expected to cover the cost of their own care through a diocesan pension, governmental programs and personal savings.

“By the year 2020, 48 active priests [in the diocese] will be eligible to retire,” Msgr. Bastia said in an earlier interview with Rhode Island Catholic, also noting a much smaller number of priests will be ordained during that same time and begin paying into the pension fund. “You can see the inequality of the equation.”

Last year’s awards banquet, which was attended by more than 800 guests, raised $90,000 which was used to support Catholic elderly day services in Rhode Island.

This year’s awards for those who “Toil in the vineyard of the Lord,” will be bestowed at a banquet on May 17 at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln.

The awards are presented in 10 categories: Parish Service, Community Service and Charitable Outreach, Catholic Education, Evangelization, Communications, Administration and Stewardship, Respect Life, Public Service, Distinguished Catholic Youth and Friend of the Diocese.

Groups, organizations and individuals — laity, clergy and religious — are eligible to be nominated. Although it is expected that those who are nominated will come from within the Catholic community, other nominees will also be considered, provided that they and their work are consistent with the teachings and mission of the Catholic Church.

A committee, under the leadership of Msgr. Albert A. Kenney, diocesan Vicar General/Moderator of the Curia, will review nominees received through an online process open to all in the Diocese of Providence. Final recommendations for the award are submitted to Bishop Thomas J. Tobin for his approval.

To nominate an individual or group for a Lumen Gentium Award, or for more information, including detailed descriptions of the 10 nominating categories, visit www.dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-awards or call 401-277-2121 Option 0.