Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 3, 2010
Retired priests still answer pastoral calls
These good shepherds may live in a retirement home, but rally when asked to hatch, match, dispatch
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - When some hard-working people dream of retirement, they revel in the thought of sleeping in late, travelling to exotic locales or spending sunny afternoons golfing.
For many retired priests in the Edmonton Archdiocese, however, retirement does not mean an end to work.
Still a pastor into his 80s, Father Duncan MacDonnell finally retired from full-time parish ministry in 2005. But if a priest is away on vacation or attending to other assignments, MacDonnell still gets the call at times to fill in.
"I still have some regular places I help out with. I go to Masses during the week, and they will call me for Confessions in the parishes," he said.
Especially now that he no longer drives a vehicle and travelling to the churches is more difficult, he can - and does - turn down work requests. As the years go by, he receives fewer requests.
"I have enough free time. There's no problem there," said MacDonnell, who lives with other retired priests at Villa Vianney.
The retired priests there eat meals in a shared dining area and at times watch sports on TV together. They have a larger dining room to entertain guests. The residence has a pool table, shuffleboard table, and a workout room filled with free weights and various exercise equipment. There's no shortage of possible leisure activities.
Many of them keep busy enough in the Church that there's little time for fun.
Although retired, Father Mike McCaffery remains active doing Baptisms, weddings and funerals, mostly for people he has known for a long time. He is also on the board of directors for Catholic Social Services, representing the archbishop.
"As the old saying goes, 'I'm retired. I was tired yesterday and I'm tired today,'" he said. "I have a regular job on Sunday. I say Mass every Sunday for St. Mark's Deaf Community. I enjoy working with them and I think they enjoy me," said McCaffery.
Admittedly, if not for his commitment to the deaf community, he would spend more time on his personal interests, including golf. In the winter he enjoys golf getaways in Palm Springs.
The greatest benefits of being retired, he said, are determining exactly what he wants to do and having the right to say "no." The problem is, he seldom does.
"That's been my major pastoral problem for almost 50 years, my inability to say 'no.' I am learning to be a little more deviant now and make excuses that I have to go away and play golf or go down to the desert to meditate and pray," joked McCaffery.
GO STIR CRAZY
"I can't complain though. I'd probably go stir crazy if I was to do nothing."
He has a business card that reads: "Retired at hatching, matching and dispatching."
Another retired priest residing at the Villa is Father John Hesse.
"We're free to pursue our own interests. But I think that most of the priests, like me, like to stay a little bit involved. It gives us a feeling of worth to do that," said Hesse.
"My experience over the last five years I've been retired is that nearly every Sunday I am asked to be somewhere. I have the power to say 'no' if I'm not feeling well."
Hesse retired from full-time parish ministry in 2005. Retirement did not slow him down. If a parish priest is away, Hesse serves as a temporary replacement. Quite often he is asked to celebrate Mass at Santa Maria Goretti Church, the Italian parish. If he's able to lend a helping hand, he will.
"I enjoy being able to help out. But every January, I go away to B.C. for a month. Once they realize I can't help them then, they make other arrangements," said Hesse.
Despite staying active by subbing when called upon, he said the workload has never interfered with finding time for the things he likes to do.
"As long as I have my health, I'd rather be doing something like that, helping out when I can," he said.
He sees the attitude of Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil in action on a regular basis. He is another priest, who, at 86 years old, frequently presides at Mass and other Church functions.
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