Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 28, 2003
A home for retired priests
Facility will allow clergy to live golden years with dignity, comfort
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
By late summer or early fall retired priests of the Edmonton Archdiocese will have an option to live in an archdiocesan-operated retirement facility, says Msgr. John Hamilton.
Located on the grounds of the Catholic Pastoral Centre, the facility is called Villa Vianney, named after the patron saint of the parish priests, St. John Mary Vianney.
Tom Houlihan, a member of the committee for the retirement facility, said, "This is a project that is long overdue. We have a number of priests at retirement age now, who have dedicated their lives, working really long and hard in the parishes, in the schools on behalf and for the Catholic faithful.
"Now it's time to provide them with a retirement facility they so justly deserve for all the service they did for us."
Hamilton, who is the chair of the committee, said, "We have just gone through the tendering stage. We're ready now to do construction on the building."
The archdiocese will pay for the renovation of an old convent long occupied by the Good Shepherd Sisters.
"It seemed to be a very agreeable kind of facility to use because of its location, because we didn't have to go and buy a new property or erect a new building," said Hamilton, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Sherwood Park.
Nine suites will be provided for retired priests. Each of the suites will consist of a bedroom, washroom, a kitchen area and a sitting room.
The suites, ranging from 750 to 850 square feet, will be equipped with cable and television outlets and capability for computer. The property around the building will be landscaped. Each resident will have a garage.
"In that facility we will have what a lot of retired people would not find in a regular retirement facility."
In addition to a common dining room, there is going to be a chapel, reading room, games room, wellness centre, and office for a doctor or nurse on call.
They also hope to have at some point a hobby room, where people can do wood work or painting. Eventually they will have walking trails around the property, a gazebo and a patio-barbecue area.
"That might not be ready right at the beginning, possibly later on, but we want to make it as user friendly as we can," noted Hamilton.
The suites available will either be furnished or unfurnished because some of the retire d priests may have their own furniture.
There will be staff working in the residence, but details are still in the works whether they will be full time or will come in only to prepare evening meals, do laundry and clean.
"We didn't want to just warehouse the priest or just to put them in the facility and sort of out of the way. We want to give them something that would let them retire with dignity, in comfort, in recognition of the fact that they devoted so many years of their lives working for God's people."
Hamilton assured the project is not the most expensive thing the archdiocese can do but the final cost has not yet been determined.
An advisory board is working on various policy details of the residence.
Fees are still being worked on. "But we will keep it low as much as possible because it's a non-profit facility." It has been determined to make the fees competitive with any other facility in the Edmonton area."
"We may be charging the same price as what some of them are paying now, but they will get more from the facility. We're going to provide much more for them."
The committee is hoping to present a package about the facility at the next priests' assembly in Jasper.
As of now they have four or five applications from priests who want to live there.
"The response of the priests is very favourable. They have been waiting for something like this for a lot of years but we could never arrive at consensus," said Hamilton.
The archdiocese is financing the project which will be amortized over a period of time through the fees that the priests will pay.
"The archdiocese is not out to make any money on this. We're not going to lose money either if we can avoid it," assured Hamilton.
Hamilton said they will accept donations from groups or individuals who want to help. The Knights of Columbus has already donated $10,000.
Another way people can help in recognition of the service the retired priests have done is to donate to the priests' retirement fund.
Interested parties can contact Wayne Provencal at (780) 469-1010, Father Martin Carroll (780) 463-8646, Father Leo Hofmann (780) 475-2888 and Msgr. John Hamilton (780) 467-5470.