“Support your priests with love and prayers,
that they may always be shepherds after Christ’s heart.” Pope Francis
This Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day – but who do we celebrate? We celebrate our fathers, grandfathers, and the many other father figures in our lives. On this day we also take time to celebrate priests who have ministered throughout our Diocese over many years, who have helped us all in one way or another in our spiritual journeys, who have cared for our church and helped to cultivate it through the ages.
But what becomes of our priests when they retire. When our priests retire from active work within the Archdiocese, there is no superannuation for them as they are not employees of the Archbishop or the Parish, nor are they self-funded retirees. They leave their parish or last place of work with the few belongings they have gathered over the years. To acknowledge retiring priests who have ministered throughout the Diocese over many years and may be in need of assistance, we hold the annual Father’s Day Appeal for the Priests Retirement Foundation (Foundation).
The Foundation’s beginnings go back to the early 1900s when the Infirm Priests Sustentation Society was set up to provide support for sick priests. In 1970 this became the Priests Remuneration fund initially caring for 12 retired priests. By 1990 this had grown to 115 retired priests and the Diocese established the Priests Retirement Foundation. A new funding model provided a percentage of each parish’s presbytery collection to the Foundation. This provided for the care of retired and sick priests of Melbourne. The Foundation is also supported by donations from parishioners.
The Diocese anticipates that over the next five years, an additional 30 or 40 priests will retire. Upon retirement, priests may choose to live privately in their own home (some are fortunate to inherit) or rent accommodation. The rental for this is funded by the Foundation.
Like all of us, aged priests require varying degrees of care which is provided by the Foundation. In 2021 there are 96 Melbourne priests who are retired. They have generously ministered in most Melbourne parishes. Of these 96:
- 6 retired priests are aged in their 90’s
- 53 retired priests are aged in their 80’s
- 37 retired priests are aged between 75-80.
The Archdiocese of Melbourne has two purpose-built retirement homes exclusively for retired priests: Justin Villa in North Balwyn and George Maher House in Clifton Hill.
The physical and mental wellbeing of all retired priests is continually overseen by two highly qualified nurses also funded by the Foundation.
Last year the Foundation spent $4.325m on “caring for those who cared”.
Your support of this appeal is sought to assist with the ongoing care and wellbeing of those who have given years of service to God’s people. All donations over $2.00 are tax-deductible.
To donate to the Father’s Day Appeal visit Priests Retirement Foundation
By Kate Baines