Do priests really retire? It is a question that many Catholics ask about their parish priests. After decades of serving the people of God, do priests simply leave it all and begin a new life? Does priesthood somehow end at the age of 70 or 75?
While it is true that priests often retire from active administration of parishes, they do not retire from a priestly life of service and ministry. In the Diocese of Providence, there are nearly a hundred “retired” priests who continue to work in parishes, hospitals and schools. After devoted duty as pastors, teachers and chaplains, they now enjoy a life that is free from the burdens of administrative office. They begin a new chapter that is solely focused upon serving the ministerial and sacramental needs of the Catholic population.
This weekend, at every parish, the second collection is designated for the support of our retired priests. The Priests’ Retirement Fund provides a subsidy for basic living needs. Since priests receive a minimal salary and only a small Social Security benefit, the subsidy helps with such necessities as housing, food, transportation and medical care. It provides a necessary bridge over the financial gap that many experience during their golden years.
The Senior Priest Fund is facing a huge unfunded liability similar to Social Security due to an increase in the number of senior priests in the next few years. The fund appeal is a chance for every Catholic household to assist those who have devoted their lives to ministry. We ask all Catholics to recall with generosity the many who rely on the collection for their modest livelihood in their retired years. These are the priests who baptized your children, performed the weddings and funerals of loved ones, taught your children in Catholic schools, anointed your sick parent in the middle of the night and faithfully offered the Eucharist for God’s holy people. The Gospel of St. Luke reminds us that “the laborer is worth his wage,” and we ask all to consider the worth of these devoted servants of God and to give generously.