The retirement years can be difficult for these men who may dedicate as many as 50 years or more of their lives to caring for and ministering to others.
With gratitude for their years of faithful ministry, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit have acknowledged and embraced the responsibility for helping our priests during their retirement. At age 70, our priests begin receiving auto and health insurance and a $1,500 monthly pension from the Priests' Retirement Fund. Senior priests use this money for basic needs, such as food, housing and transportation.
Through the years, there have been various funding sources for the Priests' Retirement Fund. Since 1994, parishes have been assessed an annual amount, which is currently $15,094 per priest serving the parish.
As is the case with many pension plans in today's world, our priests' retirement program is not fully funded. While the Priests' Retirement Fund has substantial invested assets, the unfunded shortfall is now approximately $26.3 million. Fully funding our Priests' Retirement Fund is critically important. The average age of our active priests is high, and a large number of these priests were members of sizable ordination classes. With these generations nearing retirement, there is a pressing need to provide for the men who have so faithfully served us.
Each year, parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit have the option of taking up a special collection to help pay its per-priest assessment. This special collection, With Thanks for Their Service in Christ, will be held in in September 2012.
It is essential that we continue to provide financial stability for our retired priests and guarantee future security for our active priests. By strengthening the Priests' Retirement Fund, we will ensure adequate retirement and health coverage in the years ahead for those who have served us with such faith-filled devotion by their priestly ministry.