Part One: Anticipating future retirement

By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter

There are two parts to this column: the first part is for anyone about to retire.

Are you retired? If you are, I need your help. In 1,046 days from Feb. 6, 2018, I will be 70. In the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Paul VI introduced a mandatory retirement age of 70 for priests and 75 for bishops and archbishops, although I think it depends on each bishop.

If you are retired, how do you keep busy? Or, are you a retired “lazy-bones?” I know a “retired” barber, Jerry H. who worked in a barber shop on 505 5th Street in Sioux City for at least 40 years.

He still cuts the hair of customers in their homes who came to him at the barbershop for many years, mows neighbors’ lawns, shovels snow from their walks and takes them to doctors’ appointments. He even had time to go under the knife! (I let my hair grow a little longer that month.)

Another “retiree” tells me she first learned how to ease up on the accelerator pedal of life, so that she could coast more. Now, the most work she does in the morning is to stoop to fasten her Velcro shoes and wonder what else she could do while she was down there.

Of course, we had the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 28, 2013. The Pope stated that the reason for his decision was his declining health, due to old age. His elder brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, has also said Benedict will be happy to advise his successor, if required. Writing and studying also seem likely to be on his agenda. Benedict had a library of 20,000 books installed in the papal apartments when he was elected in 2005. He also enjoys playing the piano and watching old black-and-white comedies, and he loves cats. At least one, Contessina, is known to live at Mater Ecclesiae.

At one time we had up to eight retired priests living here and three or four retired men of the cloth who would occasionally visit Holy Spirit Retirement Home. Each day they would concelebrate at Mass, if they were able. I enjoyed watching residents, who were their former parishioners, come up after Mass to joyfully greet them and reminisce about the special time they witnessed their marriage vows, baptized their child(ren), gave their children first holy Communion, anointed a sick or dying family member and/or absolved their sins in a confession that was a turning point in their life.

In the April 19 edition, I’ll look at some of our priests who left footprints on our hearts.

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.


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