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Priests' Retirement Fund -
A Lay Person's Perspective

by Mike Bava
Chief Financial Officer, Diocese of Joliet

from the May 2020 Christ is our Hope

Whenever I ask one of our senior diocesan priests about their life in retirement, I almost always hear the same two common responses.  First, they truly are grateful to be able to retire from their many full-time parish responsibilities and enjoy the peace and rest.  Second, they remind me that priests rarely truly retire as they continue to celebrate Mass and the sacraments daily and weekly across our diocese.

Diocesan priests are required to work until they are age 70, and many work beyond 70 due to diocesan need, or because they desire to continue to serve God’s people.  It seems to me that after decades of assignments in multiple parishes, once our priests reach age 70, they really deserve the opportunity to take a step back and enjoy their senior years. 

Most lay people retire before the age of 70; I know I hope to be retired before then.  And oftentimes lay folks decide to work less stressful jobs in their 60s as they march toward retirement, some even opting for part-time work.  Not so for our priests, as they are generally pastors, working full time with responsibility for a parish (and sometimes a school) right up until retirement. 

Unless they receive a family inheritance, our priests in retirement live rather modestly, generally in a rectory, at the diocesan retirement home, in an apartment, or sometimes with family members.   It is true that most of our retired priests continue to work throughout their retirement years.  They celebrate daily and weekend Masses, hear confessions, perform funerals, celebrate weddings, anoint the sick, etc.  Some fill in full time on a temporary basis for a pastor who becomes sick or goes on a sabbatical.  Most of these senior priests tell me they are always happy to continue to be of service to the people of the Diocese of Joliet.  I find that heartwarming.  Serving God’s people is in their DNA.

The Father's Day Second Collection will take place during the weekend of June 21-22, 2020 at your local parish. If you are unable to attend Mass or wish to donate now, visit our designated donation page.

The “Father’s Day Second Collection” in June was started years ago to help support the needs of our senior priests in retirement, some of whom become sick or infirmed.  This fund is also used to help care for priests that become ill before retirement and are in need of rehab or experience a lengthy convalescence.  The collection also helps defray costs at the priest retirement home in Naperville where a number of priests currently reside.  To dispel any confusion, the second collection in December for the retired religious does not help our diocesan priests.  That collection is for the religious orders across the country.  Each diocese is responsible for the care of their diocesan priests in retirement. 

I have always had a great appreciation for the devotion of our priests and I am inspired by their commitment to serve others.  I have firsthand knowledge of their work and the good they have accomplished over the years.  And I have firsthand knowledge of what these devoted clergymen continue to do to care for the spiritual health of all of us in the Diocese of Joliet.  But I also see the needs that they have and the challenges they face as they age in retirement.   My hope is that they realize that we appreciate and care about them. 

Recognizing that most of our senior and retired priests have looked after and served the Catholics in our diocese for decades, my hope is that we can all be generous in supporting and looking after them in their golden years.  And importantly, please pray for the health of our senior retired priests.  I am certain they will be most grateful.