Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 1, 1999
Priests' retirement fund faces shaky future
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
After the year 2005, more than three quarters of the approximately 80 priests in the Edmonton Archdiocese will be eligible for the St. Joseph's Priests' Retirement Fund.
And that future is causing problems for the fund today.
"The problem is the interest rate is not what it used to be," said Father Mathias Kuefler, secretary of the fund. "We're not getting the kind of return we used to from our investments. We used to get a 10 per cent return on it."
The fund is not in dire straits at the present moment, said Kuefler, but the half a million dollar payout each year could dry out the fund before its time.
"The amount coming in is holding steady," he said. "But our expenses are increasing."
Priests who are 65 or older are eligible for a $1,200 monthly pension from the fund. Those who have hit the retirement age, but who retain their pastoral duties in a parish are eligible for $500. Presently, 45 priests are accessing the fund. Next year, two will be added to the list, with five in 2001 and four in 2002.
Not only is the number of priests eligible for the pension a concern, but the need to keep payments up to date with the cost of living is putting minor dents on the fund.
"We were thinking that we'd have $10 million by now, but we have half that amount," Kuefler said. "We have been increasing the payments by $50 a month so (priests) would have enough to live on."
Contributions to the fund come from a parish assessment and from donations.
"We don't want to give the impression that we're in trouble right now," Kuefler said. "We're not. But we're looking at the future. If we don't do something now, the future of (the fund) will be in trouble.
"For now we'll just have to watch it every year. We just won't increase the amount we're paying out."
Kuefler said the Council of Priests has established a committee to look at ways to charge up the fund. He has made suggestions on fundraising events for the fund, but has only hit deadends because it conflicted with other major fundraising efforts in the archdiocese.
"It's not that they didn't like fundraising, but they couldn't decide when to do it."