We are fortunate to have a number of retired priests in the Diocese of Tulsa. They have served in parishes and as diocesan officials. We have honored them at parish-wide retirement parties as they transition from being active pastors to men who are enjoying their senior years.
And yet they do not stop being priests. Rather, they are an essential part of parish life for those churches fortunate enough to have them nearby. At the Church of Saint Mary, our parish children in second grade made their first confessions to six priests. Two of those confessors are retired priests: Monsignor Dennis Dorney and Father Paul Eichhoff.
There are more retired priests in the Diocese of Tulsa than there are associate pastors. We are grateful to each of them.
A century ago, priests nearing the retirement age sought out large parishes that had the means to house them, feed them, and care for their health. Today’s older priests count on the goodness of not one but all parishes to provide for their retirement years. Yes, they were wise to put back some money during their active years. However, retired priests struggle with the same rising costs of housing and health care that we all do.
The Diocese of Tulsa has a plan. The Diocese is asking every parish in eastern Oklahoma to take up a second collection on Christmas to grow the local retirement fund for our retired priests. This is different than the recent collection for retired religious in the United States. That fund supports priests, brothers, and sisters in religious orders – the Benedictines and Augustinians, for example.
Our second collection on Christmas ensures that Monsignor Dorney, Father Eichhoff, and other Tulsa priests can enjoy their well-earned retirements. The collection assures our active pastors that they too will be able to have a secure retirement.
If you know a young man who is discerning a vocation to the priesthood, show him a Sunday Bulletin from any Tulsa parish. Let him see that his lifetime of work in the priesthood of Jesus Christ will be rewarded here on earth with an established plan for his retirement four of five decades from now.
We have a plan. Please help Bishop Konderla provide for his senior priests by giving to the Christmas collection for Tulsa’s retired priests.