The number of retired priests is expected to increase by about 40 percent over the next 10 years, and helping provide for them in retirement is one major component of the Diocese of Oakland's Captial Campaign, Reclaiming Christ's Mission Together.
Currently there are 48 retired priests, a number projected to climb to 67 by 2025. There are about 160 priests serving in the diocese, and another 160 religious order priests.
As Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, has said, "Our priests have been there for our parishioners providing pastoral and spiritual care, baptizing babies, offering First Communion and Confirmations and the Sacrament of Marriage. They have also been there to bury our parishioners.
"The priests of the diocese have taken care of our parishioners. I am responsible for taking care of these priests in their retirement, and to provide for them as they have provided for you."
The diocesan policy regarding retirement age for priests is 70, though some retire early, usually due to health reasons, and others continue working past age 70, said Rev. Paul Schmidt, vicar for clergy.
Canon Law requires that a pastor or bishop resign at age 75, though many continue to work.
"We have priests in the diocese who remain as pastors past age 75," said Father Schmidt. "The pope also often asks bishops to stay on beyond 75, or they request that permission and are granted it."
In the Diocese of Oakland, the average age of a priest at retirement is 68.5; the average age of all retired priests is 78.9, reported Eric Waldschmidt, vice president at Nicolay Consulting Group, San Francisco, actuaries and retirement plan administrators.
The average annual retirement pay for priests is about $21,300, and health care is provided by the diocese. Almost all priests are also covered by Social Security. Retired priests who need assisted care can use Bishop Begin Villa, part of the Mercy Retirement and Care Center in Oakland.
"One does not retire from the priesthood," said Father Schmidt. "Retired priests are helping in many ways in our diocese and elsewhere, as is Bishop Emeritus John Cummins and bishops elsewhere."
The Capital Campaign has a goal of $65 million to be raised over the next four years. Half the parishes are being approached this year, the other half next year.
It will provide funds to aid educational tuitions, priest retirement, local projects at schools and parishes, catechesis and evangelization ministries, aid to Catholic Charities and debt reduction and restructuring.
Kenneth J. Hokenson, executive director of the Office for Mission Advancement, said the Capital Campaign is committed to strengthening the priest retirement fund with $2 million.
The $2 million added to the priests' retirement trusts will assure the diocese can meet its actuarially determined obligations.
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