Diocesan Priests’ Retirement Appeal

Diocese Introduces New Annual Collection: Diocesan Priests’ Retirement Appeal

In Psalm 23, the Lord tells us “the LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.”

This Psalm is of course read on Good Shepherd Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, which this year is May 11-12. It is also when the Diocese of San Jose will take up a collection for the Annual Diocesan Priests’ Retirement Appeal.

Throughout the Diocese priests serve as good shepherds to their flocks (the faithful of Santa Clara County). There are 44 retired priests in the Diocese and 99 others who are currently serving our parishes and other diocesan assignments. In addition, the Diocese has 45 priests reaching retirement age, 70 years old, in the next 15 years and 15 in just the next five years.

This collection is aimed at closing the financial shortfall, so that what is promised our priests when they retire will actually be there for them in their last years.

While some priests “retire” when they actually retire, others continue to perform some level of ministry to those throughout our Diocese.

Monsignor Michael Mitchell, former pastor at Saint Lawrence, as well as former Chief Financial Officer and Vicar General for the Diocese, regularly visits with school children and assists at Mass.

Father John Coleman and Monsignor Joseph Milani, the oldest priests in the Diocese at 93, frequently say Mass. Father Kevin Joyce, former pastor at Saint Lucy Parish, who retired in 2015, continues his ministry by assisting with Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.

These priests rely on their payments from Social Security and the Priest Retirement Plan for their needs. In recent years the number of retired priests has grown significantly, challenging the diocesan retirement resources.

The generosity to this appeal help keeps an important promise of care to these priests who have been good shepherds and have kept their promises to the faithful of the Diocese.

Therefore on Good Shepherd Sunday, May 11-12, each parish will take up a second collection at Mass for the new Diocesan Priests Retirement Appeal.

Fact Sheet

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Question:  Why did the Diocese of San Jose introduce a new annual collection, the Diocesan Priests’ Retirement Collection, last April, on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday?

Answer: The Diocese began this collection in 2018 so that we can continue to care for our 44 retired priests and for the future care of those 97 priests who are currently serving our parishes and other diocesan assignments, and for the priests yet to be ordained who will serve us, our children and even our grandchildren.

There is not yet a crisis in the fund, but with 45 priests reaching retirement age, 70 years old, in the next 15 years, and 15 in just the next five years, we will be at crisis stage unless we do something now.

Explanation

Since the Priest Retirement Plan was established in 1988, there have been three recessions, including the most recent “Great Recession” of 2008-2009.  When we entered each of these periods, the funds that had been growing at expected rates stopped growing and even lost value.  The same happened to many individuals’ retirement accounts. Our current expectation is for these investments to grow at about 6% per year.  If this is too ambitious and if growth is less, there will be even more “catch up” to do.

The Priest Retirement Board has addressed the shortfall and is committed to closing this gap by 2030. But it will take all of us working together. Being able to close this gap is built into the amount that is being charged for each non-retired priest.  In the coming fiscal year, this will be $18,335 per priest, payable by the parish or the priest’s source of income (for example, the Chancery).  For a small parish, this amount can pose a great hardship; larger parishes, which may have three or four priests, can also be affected negatively by this.

In 1988, the annual pension for a priest was $14,700.  It is currently at $29,000.  If the pension payments were tied to inflation, the annual pension for each retired priest would now be $30,940.

Because our priests’ salaries have never been large by current standards, they do not benefit from large Social Security payments.

The “Good Shepherd Sunday” second collection to benefit the Diocesan Priest Retirement Fund is aimed at closing the gap, so that what is promised our priests when they retire will actually be there for them in their later years.

Fact Sheet (pdf)