Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 1, 2006
Laity to raise funds for retired priests
Priests give their lives to us, now it is time for us to give to them
By BILL GLEN
"The genesis of this was a walk with Father Mike on the beach at my home in Maui in January 2005."
- Randall Yatscoff
The men deserve to live with dignity having sacrificed the best years of their lives for the greater good of the Catholic community.
Yatscoff did not want to establish an ongoing program - or campaign - contributing to the fund. Rather, he thought a one-time event raising a certain amount would have a lasting impact and increase the profile of the retirement fund.
"I felt it was something Catholics in the community have somewhat ignored," Yatscoff said. "There is fundraising for Newman (Theological College) and for St. Joseph's College, and for other Catholic charities. But I have never seen anything to recognize the priests who are the core of our faith in the city."
After 50 years in the priesthood, the men deserve to be thanked for their dedication, Yatscoff said.
"They have impacted the lives of many Catholics in Edmonton. There is a deficit in excess of $2 million in the pension fund, with more and more priests retiring.
"We have to do something for people who have helped all of us through our lives."
Ouellet was selected because he is the primate of Canada with ties to Edmonton as former rector of St. Joseph's Seminary. Yatscoff asked Archbishop Thomas Collins to contact Ouellet to see whether he would be interested.
Yatscoff wanted topics for discussion applicable to Catholics and non-Catholics who may attend.
"The Da Vinci Code attacks some Catholic organizations and so many people out there believe it is doctrine rather than fiction. Cardinal Ouellet has agreed to speak on this."
Maurice Fritze joined the communication sub-committee soon after the ball got rolling.
Fritze says this is an opportunity for lay Catholics to learn more about an aspect of a priest's life that is largely taken for granted.
"This is a unique endeavour for those of us who sit in the pews to make a contribution. We often do not have opportunities to get involved in events such as this," Fritze said.
The dinner is looking to make a contribution of about $400,000 to the fund that will have immediate gains and long-term benefits.
"I'm motivated out of the respect I have for some of the priests who have retired, in particular Father Mike."
- Randall Yatscoff
Catholic leaders in the community - like Yatscoff - got together last September to map out a one-time fundraising event and determine what the challenges would be.
Fritze said the committee members were willing to put in a lot of extra work for a year to bring the event to fruition.
"The ongoing ads in the WCR and the annual effort (Good Shepherd Sunday - May 7) do bring in a lot of low and medium level gifts to the retirement fund. But they are not enough to meet the present needs and the anticipated needs in the future."
There are aspects of the administration of the archdiocese that are ongoing and we willingly make contributions, Fritze said. People expect that part of their dollars will go to pay for things such as pensions for priests without realizing the only funds are the ones parishioners have contributed.
Fritze said from time to time, extraordinary efforts may have to be taken to address the real needs. It is also a way for people to say "thank you" to a priest who may have helped them in the past.
Wally Streit, state secretary of the Alberta Knights of Columbus, attended a committee meeting on behalf of the Knights, not intending to join.
But he was drawn in by the sincerity of the project.
He is in charge of ticket sales.
"The Knights of Columbus are in full solidarity with our priests, so I'm prepared to dig a little deeper on the energy to make sure we do what it takes to sell the tickets," Streit said.
Yatscoff said that as an active member in Edmonton's Catholic community for many years, he has made a lot of friends and business colleagues. He called on them to support this event.
"I guess I have my ways because no one said 'no.' They all agreed to participate. The need for the priests is growing and something has to be done to address this," he said.
"I'm motivated out of the respect I have for some of the priests who have retired, in particular Father Mike. I challenge all Catholics to come."
Tickets for the event are available by calling Suzanne at 469-1010.
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