How do you define a friend? Is it someone who shares life’s ups and downs with you, or perhaps someone you can relax with on a quiet Sunday afternoon? Maybe it’s a trusted confidant with a good ear and a solid shoulder. These reflections have been on my mind lately as I transition into retirement. My circle of contacts and influence has shifted notably, leaving me to ponder who were true friends and who were merely colleagues or acquaintances.

Friendship is a theme deeply embedded in the Bible, and a particular verse from Proverbs has been resonating with me: “A friend remains a friend at all times; a true brother is born in times of adversity.”

Reflecting on this, I see you, our generous supporters, as my friends. Your unwavering support through prayer and generosity is a testament to the immense love and care you have for us. Our retired priests, including myself, rely on your continued support to receive the care, love, and security that sustain us in our retirement.

After many years of dedicated service as a missionary priest in Latin America, my health has necessitated a transition to retirement. The years spent working in the slums of the poor took a toll, resulting in a weakened heart and lungs due to parasites. Thanks to excellent healthcare here in Brisbane, I have survived three life-challenging episodes since returning to Australia. There were moments I thought I’d be meeting God very soon.

As a retiree, my perspective has changed significantly. While I am no longer engaged in full-time ministry, my personal pastoral care has deepened. I now have the gift of time – time for prayer, contemplation, and one-on-one interactions with those seeking pastoral care. This shift has allowed me to appreciate the profound connections between the body, soul, and mind.

Our retired priests face ongoing challenges, particularly in ensuring sufficient funds for their basic health care and accommodation. At the end of last year, we welcomed nine new priests to the ranks of retirees. Your generosity today ensures their well-being and security in retirement, providing them with the wholehearted care they deserve.

Friendship is crucial for overall health and maintaining an integrated and full life. Your support extends beyond financial assistance; it is an expression of your deep love, honour, and respect for Christ, the priesthood, and the retired priests of the Archdiocese of Brisbane. Your generosity ensures our retired priests feel seen, valued, and loved. This sense of belonging is a priceless gift, making The Priests Foundation an indispensable lifeline for priests in their retirement.

As St. Bernard reminds us, we are given time to find love, and we are given love to find God. Never underestimate the grace and power of our shared friendship in Christ. Your prayers and respect lift us up, and in return, you are connected to us in every Mass and prayer. Your unwavering commitment to The Priests Foundation is a profound blessing, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

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