Priest Retirement Fund

Senior Priest Stories

Msgr. Robert Humitz
'I help out wherever my help is needed.'

A pastor will often call me when he needs a priest to celebrate a Mass. After 50 years as a priest, I'm always "meeting" people I already know wherever I go, and it's interesting to renew those friendships. I also help parishes with pastoral planning, an expertise I gained from developing the process for the Archdiocese, and I teach at Sacred Heart Major Seminary and SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary. When you combine all of those things, it takes much of my time. I thought being a senior priest would be like being on one big vacation, but I have to space out obligations so I can get away.

Still, I make time for recreation. I ski in the winter and bike in the summer. The feeling of biking is much like the feeling of skiing - it's kind of my summer skiing experience. And it's good exercise. In 2002, I was a chaplain for the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. Working with chaplains and athletes from around the world was a wonderful ecumenical experience.

I also meet with my seminary classmates on a regular basis. We celebrated our 50th anniversary to the priesthood with a gathering in northern Michigan. We have a nice class.

The rest of my time is spent working around my home, doing all of the tasks that lay people do. After spending years in parishes, where someone else cuts the grass and does laundry and maintenance for you, I enjoy it.

Father Dan Murphy
'We continue to be the priests we were ordained to be'

I became a senior priest 10 years ago and haven't stopped smiling yet. We're retired from administration, but we're not retired from the priesthood. I celebrate more Masses on a weekend than I ever did as an active priest! I generally celebrate Mass at two different churches each weekend, and I also preside at funerals, weddings and baptisms. In traveling to these various parishes, I meet people who have been involved in my priestly ministry over the past 50 years. I recently met someone I baptized 40 years ago!

I live at Senior Clergy Village, which is on the grounds of the Felician Sisters' Livonia Campus. I knew many of the men in our small community during my seminary days. Although we rent apartments and have no commitments to stay around during the evening or day, we meet up often. Every Tuesday a group meets to read and contemplate the next Sunday's scriptures, and get each other's thoughts for homilies. We concelebrate Mass and do vespers together, reading off the names of priests whose death anniversaries will be celebrated during the next weeks. We try to keep our brothers memory alive through anecdotes. We also take meals together in the community center.

I like to do a bit of gardening - I have tomato plants, flowers and shrubs around my apartment - but my big hobby is golf. Playing golf affords me the opportunity to socialize on regular basis with my priest friends. I'm also a member of two duplicate bridge group; I've been playing each month with one group of guys since my seminary days.

It's hard to imagine that I was ordained 54 years ago. My 'work' was ministry; it's who I am, and continue to be.

Father Tom Sutherland
'I'm always very glad to be able to assist in whatever way I can'

When I was a full-time priest, we active pastors all said, "Thank God for those retired guys. We'd be up a creek without them!" Now, they all tell us the same thing. I just spent my first weekend as a priest presenter for Worldwide Marriage Encounter, and I help out at 65 different parishes. I usually have three Masses each weekend, along with a half dozen Masses at the Monastery of St. Therese for the Discalced Carmelite Nuns each month. If I'm not responding to a parish request, I attend daily Mass at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish, the Shelby Twp. parish I founded. My successive pastors have been so welcoming.

Assisting at parishes gives me a better flavor for what's going on around the Archdiocese. We senior priests admire the dedication of active priests, and have the time and willingness to help them. They look up to us as mentors.

I still value the connections I made during my seminary days. We golf and play bridge a couple of times a month. We're all friends.

Father Ed Prus
'You never run out of love for the priesthood'

One of the joys of being a senior priest is being able to see all of the wonderful priests and parishes, and tremendous laypeople, in the Archdiocese. I wish the archbishop had the flexibility to see what we see as we help out at parish communities. As a chaplain for the Detroit-Oakland chapter of Serra International since I retired, I work to promote vocations. It's a pleasure.

My goal when I retired was to go out of the state and the country once a year. I often help out during Easter in Marathon in the Florida Keys, and offer my assistance in Arizona, too. I also travel to Florida and northern Michigan with my seminary classmates each year, and enjoy heading to Stratford, Ontario, for plays.

I stay pretty busy golfing, reading and walking. I faithfully walk three to four miles each day. I live at St. James Parish in Ferndale, and since I was once pastor of Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, I have a lot of wonderful friends in this area.

I've really enjoyed being a priest. I don't know how God chose me, but I'm so glad He did.