Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:
Priesthood is a lifelong vocation, given witness by more than 150 senior priests in the Archdiocese of Detroit who, though retired, continue to share of themselves in countless ways. Most of these men minister beyond retirement age for as long as they are physically able. Our senior priests who are unable to serve in ministry because of health limitations continue to bless and humble us through their life witness. Every aspect in the life and ministry of a priest, active or senior, is a gift from God; a gift that builds and maintains the communion of our Church; a gift that helps bring the faithful closer to the Lord.
Many of our senior priests serve at a parish or make themselves available to multiple parishes in southeast Michigan, providing valuable assistance to pastors who are stretched thin. Some help out by celebrating daily or Sunday liturgies, ministering to the sick and homebound, visiting hospitals, and providing spiritual counseling. Others step in when a brother priest is away from his parish for vacation or because of sickness or a family obligation.
During his years of priestly ministry, a priest in the Detroit Archdiocese is mainly supported by a parish community and receives a modest salary. His housing, food, medical benefits, and transportation are provided so he can focus on his ministry. While active priests are encouraged to initiate their own investments for retirement, many faithful priests are left with minimal income and financial resources upon achieving senior priest status. Like many of the lay faithful, priests in retirement can have difficult adjustments after having committed decades of their lives to caring for and ministering to others.
At the Synod of 1969, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit acknowledged and embraced the responsibility to help our priests during their retirement years. Soon after that, the Archdiocese of Detroit established a retirement fund for our priests, created and maintained largely through the generosity of parishioners like you.
At age 70, our priests begin receiving a $1,500 monthly pension payment from the Priests’ Pension Plan and a supplemental quarterly expense allowance of up to $455. They use this money for food, housing, and transportation. They also receive medical and dental insurance, Medicare Part B costs, auto insurance, and educational expenses. Diocesan priests often live independently during their retirement years, unlike senior priests of religious communities who are cared for, live together, and receive financial support from their orders and benefactors.
We must continue to provide financial stability for our retired priests and future security for our active priests. By maintaining our archdiocesan Priests’ Pension Plan, we will help provide retirement and health coverage in the years ahead for those who have served us with such faith-filled devotion in their priestly ministry.
You can learn more about the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Priests’ Pension Plan by visiting my Sharing the Light section on the archdiocesan website at: www.aod.org/sharingthelight/priestspensionplan/.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit
Posted: September 18, 2013