In the most recent issue of the Catholic Spirit there was a feature about 10 recently retired priests of the Archdiocese. The greatest surprise to me as I read their stories was how many of these men had been educated in the seminary with me! In so many ways it does not seem to me that so much time has passed that fellow students are now settling into retirement; yet, they are! This does not mean that I am planning on retirement any time soon. I had always planned, as I looked to the future, to retire at 70 years. I am sixty four years old right now, thus, if you do the math I am hoping to be your pastor for another six years. Aside from my noted health issues, which seem to be manageable I do not see anything that would move me into retirement before then.
I have known Fr. Ken since I was a freshman in college. He was the rector of Saint John Vianney college seminary as I entered in the fall of 1975. He has had a great career of service throughout the Archdiocese and we have benefitted by his retirement for the last fifteen years as he has been (and continues to be) our weekend associate. He has been with us in our good and bad times and has provided a steady source of pastoral guidance throughout. He has been an inspiration to me throughout his life, but now especially in his retirement as he reminds me that to retire as a priest is not to sit on the sidelines but to find a new way to walk with a faith community. Again, if my health holds, even as I retire from being an appointed pastor I too will emulate Fr. Ken and find another way to live out the gift of priesthood that God has shared with me.
I am suspecting as I read the different stories of the recently retired priests that they too will continue to find ways to share their gift of priesthood with the people of this Archdiocese as well as some southern dioceses in the colder weather. Even as I reflect on retirement I am also grateful for all the younger priests who have been ordained after me. They continue to open the way for our Archdiocese to grow and to minister to the faithful of this area. You have all been so supportive of us and I pray that through your inspiration and God’s generosity there may continue to be vocations to priesthood for many years to come.