Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 2, 2005
Many retired priests depend on pension fund
Archdiocese seeking $650,000 to $700,000 in donations
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Unless he has a rich uncle somewhere, a retired diocesan priest in the Edmonton Archdiocese must rely on a small monthly stipend significantly funded by contributions from parishioners.
The priests' retirement fund collection on Good Shepherd Sunday April 17 was an opportunity to help fill the pension coffers used by some 48 priests, says archdiocesan business manager Wayne Provencal.
Provencal explained the pension fund acts in two ways. A small amount is given to the men who are semi-retired, while $1,500 a month is given to those fully retired. From that amount, a fully-retired priest is completely responsible for his personal daily expenses.
The archdiocese is hoping for a contribution of at least $650,000 to $700,000 because the number of retired priests continues to grow.
Holy Family pastor Father John Hesse, 73, will celebrate 50 years as a priest in June, before retiring in August and moving into the priests' retirement home, Villa Vianney, on the Catholic Pastoral Centre grounds.
"I was born in Edmonton and raised on the St. Albert Trail. It was nice to come home and finish my service as a pastor," Hesse said. "My life as a priest has been very fulfilling. I enjoyed every year of it."
Hesse has served in every corner of the archdiocese, starting in Red Deer at Sacred Heart. He moved to Castor, Trochu and then Wetaskiwin.
He came to St. Andrew's in Edmonton before serving as rector of St. Joseph's Basilica for four years. He moved on to Provost, Evansburg and Lloydminster. He served at St. Michael's in Leduc for five years and then to Holy Family.
"God has blessed me with good health and the opportunity to serve in parishes where I got to know a lot of people whose lives have touched my own," he said.
"It has been a blessing to have served the Lord in this particular call."
Father Duncan MacDonnell, 80, will retire this year after serving Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Fort Saskatchewan and the Catholic communities of Skaro, Gibbons, St. Michael and Redwater. He will join Hesse at Villa Vianney.
Founder of the archdiocesan Social Justice Committee, MacDonnell said a highlight of his career was his mission work in Peru in the 1960s.
"You learn what the Church is all about for some people," MacDonnell said.
Originally from Nova Scotia, MacDonnell was ordained a priest 50 years ago. A Second World War veteran, he has been the pastor in Fort Saskatchewan since 1990. He began his priestly career by serving in Edmonton's inner city at Sacred Heart Parish. Five years later, he became pastor of Sylvan Lake, Rocky Mountain House and Evergreen.
Off to Peru
Three years later, Archbishop Anthony Jordan sent him to St. Louis University to complete his master's degree in social work. He returned in 1965 and served as chaplain at the Bowden Institution and as pastor in Clandonald before going to Peru. He spent six years in the barrios of Lima living and working among the poorest of the poor. "It was a wonderful experience, one of the greatest of my life," he recalled.
Since the Peru assignment, MacDonnell has served as pastor of Immaculate Heart and St. Andrew's parishes in Edmonton and Sacred Heart in Red Deer, before coming to Our Lady of the Angels.
"I am happy with my work but the time is right," he said. "Each parish I was assigned to was very rewarding."
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the priests' retirement fund can do so by calling their parish or the Edmonton Archdiocese office at 469-1010.
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