Retired diocesan priests’ collection May 10-11
It is difficult to imagine what sacramental ministry would be like in the Archdiocese of New Orleans without the services of more than 60 retired diocesan priests, many of whom remain active in celebrating Masses, funerals and hearing confessions, said Father Patrick Williams, vicar general of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
“Without them there would be a diminished availability of the sacraments,” said Father Williams, pastor of St. Pius X Church in New Orleans who also serves as vicar for clergy. “Our ability to provide sacramental assistance would probably go unmet without their help.”
Father Otis Young, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Covington and chair of the Priestly Life and Ministry Committee, said retired priests are invaluable in celebrating Masses in a parish with multiple weekend Masses and also by celebrating funeral liturgies and giving parish mission talks.
“They are very active in helping out in various parishes,” Father Young said.
Vital collection May 10-11
With that in mind, the Archdiocese of New Orleans takes up a critical annual collection to help defray the retirement costs for diocesan priests.
This year’s collection will be taken up in all parishes May 10-11, which is Good Shepherd Sunday.
The last two years have seen a significant growth in the collection as word spread about the importance of the effort. In 2012, the collection raised $245,993, and last year, Catholics contributed $261,457, a 6.3 percent increase.
Father Young said while active diocesan priests contribute a portion of their salary to the costs associated with retired diocesan priests, that amount does not come close to covering what is needed.
The archdiocese fully covers the health costs of retired diocesan priests, but each priest is responsible for arranging where he will live in retirement. Some live in their own homes or apartments and some live in parish rectories, Father Young said.
Eight retired priests live in the St. John Vianney retirement residence in Marrero, where they have their own apartments and gather regularly for meals and to celebrate Mass together.
Most retirees remain active
Father Charles Caluda, the retired former pastor of St. Hubert Parish in Garyville, is a member of the Priestly Life and Ministry Committee and represents the interests of retired diocesan priests. He recently surveyed his fellow retired priests to determine their biggest needs in retirement.
He discovered that most are living a very fulfilling life.
“I think most are happy with where they are,” said Father Caluda, 82. “The majority of them, if they are physically able, are celebrating Mass, hearing confessions and doing funerals, and in some cases they are doing baptisms and anointing of the sick. They all seem to be very busy and don’t have a problem with ‘time on their hands.’ Above all, they all said, they like having ‘no more meetings.’”
The survey got some interesting responses. Msgr. Allen Roy, the retired pastor of Holy Spirit Church in New Orleans, suggested that the archdiocese conduct retirement preparation programs for priests so that they could understand the various changes that would be coming. He also urged priests to become more aware of their post-retirement financial needs, including savings.
Good health is a blessing
Father Caluda remains extremely active, despite recent back pain that forced him temporarily to give up celebrating Mass at churches in St. Bernard Parish. Instead, he has been celebrating Mass privately in his home, but he intends to get back to his regular schedule now that doctors seem to have found the source of his back pain and have given him relief.
“When I had this pain I could not stand up at all, and that cut me off from the No. 1 thing in my life, and that’s celebrating the Mass,” Father Caluda said. “Hopefully, in the next month, I’ll be able to say Mass for the people. That’s my goal.”
Two of the retired diocesan priests are archbishops – Archbishops Francis B. Schulte and Alfred C. Hughes.
Who are they?
The other retired diocesan priests are Fathers Joseph Benson, (Msgr.) William M. Bilinsky, Ronald Braud, H.L. Brignac, Paul D. Calamari, Charles J. Caluda, Francis J. Carabello, (Msgr.) Ralph E. Carroll, Jerry Dabria, Joseph de Water, (Msgr.) James R. Dixon, (Msgr.) Charles E. Duke.
J. Luis Fernandez, Francis Ferrié, John P. Finn, (Msgr.) T. Gaspard Glasgow, Adrian Hall, (Msgr.) Lawrence A. Hecker, Carroll Heffner, H. Brian Highfill, John T. Hinton, Patrick J.R. Kennedy, Robert Kieltyka, (Msgr.) Louis P. LeBourgeois, Raul Venust Lobo, (Msgr.) J. Anthony Luminais, William McGough, Victor G. Messina, Leo A. Meyer.
Royce Mitchell, Oneil Monzillo, Brendan Morgan, Dominic Huyen Duc Nguyen, William J. O’Donnell, Michael O’Neill, Denver B. Pentecost, Denzil Perera, Anton Perkovic, Vincent Don Pham, Benjamin Piovan, Vincent Qui, (Msgr.) Ignatius Roppolo, (Msgr.) Allen J. Roy, John C. Sax, James E. Schott, Anthony Serio, David K. Texada, Curtis R. Thomas, (Msgr.) John A. Tomasovich, Joseph C. Tranchina, Paul Trinchard, Jules Vitte, John Baptist Han Vu and Anthony J. White.