People sometimes ask me if life as a priest is lonely. And I guess the answer is, it can be. We don’t often have time to be lonely – between managing parish business, meeting with parishioners, and seeing to the spiritual welfare of those who need God’s loving connection, there is little time left for anything else.
American professor and author Brené Brown defines loneliness as ‘the absence of human connection and belonging.’ When I speak to our retired priests, I see this shift from interconnectedness with their parish and community, to a life that can at times feel disconnected. As these faithful servants come to the end of their ‘active’ ministry, they face an uncertain future away from the communities they have lived in and belonged to. Without children or grandchildren to care for them or visit with them, they rely on the brotherhood and camaraderie of other priests.
I recently received a letter from one of our retired priests and want to share some of it with you. It’s from Father Roger Burns, who retired at age 75 in 2018 after thirteen years as the parish priest in Goodna. When he retired, Father Roger moved in with his sister to help care for her. The letter reads:
When my elder sister needed to go into residential care, I was faced with the decision of putting her house on the market to fund her future care.
Fortunately, after contacting The Priests Foundation, I was shown a vacant unit that had been occupied by another retired priest. The best part about it was that the unit had a garden on three sides which would be ideal for my sister’s Jack Russell Terrier who also needed a new home.
Because the unit has not had any work done on it for many years, it was decided that an upgrade would be undertaken. This included new carpeting, a repaint, and the electrical lighting brought up to date. This was carried out and I moved into a bright, new setting last year, which has been a blessing.
Tinker, the dog, has claimed the garden as his own and provides me with companionship.
My thanks go to the generous donors who enable The Priests Foundation to provide for priests moving into retirement or those who cannot continue in parish ministry due to illness. I often pray for these donors when celebrating Mass and will continue to keep them in my heart.
Through your kindness, The Priests Foundation was able to give Father Roger a home in the company of other priests where he will spend his retirement.
These retired priests have given their lives in service to their communities and parishioners. They have sanctified and celebrated our most important milestones and helped us experience God’s love and mercy in our daily lives. Please put your faith in action today, by supporting them with a tax-deductible donation to The Priests Foundation.