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Collections supports retired, infirm priests of diocese

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)


This year, 2011, marks the first year there are more retired priests than active ones in the Diocese of Sioux City.

With the intention of supporting the growing number of retired priests in the diocese, the Retired and Infirm Priests Collection will be taken up at parishes the weekend of Dec. 10 and 11. This is the third year for the collection.

Money from the Retired and Infirm Priests Collection provides for the long-term funding needed by the pension fund, to enhance the monthly benefits of retired priests in perpetuity and to assist in the special health care needs of the infirm and retired priests of the diocese.

Deacon Dick Billings, chairman of the Priest Pension and Welfare Board, said that with increasing medical costs this collection is needed to help with the priest pension fund.

In recent years, many special needs and health care expenses have increased significantly among the priests of the diocese.

Deacon Billings said it is important to keep these costs in the minds of parishioners so “hopefully, as they come to the point of giving bequests while they are alive or through their will that they will remember this deed.”

When encouraging someone to give to the collection, he said he would ask them if they “favor the maintenance of the priests who they have experienced or encountered over the years.”

“Just like they would take care of their parent, these church leaders are indirectly like our fathers and we want to take care of them,” said Deacon Billings. “They live a life of humility and sacrifice.”

Msgr. Roger Augustine, a retired priest of the diocese, said this collection is very important to retired priests.

“It is a manner and way in which the people in the diocese continue, as they have in the past, to show their appreciation for the priests who have worked in the diocese and taken care of the sacramental needs of the people,” he said. “The retired priests still give benefits and service to the diocese in many ways.”

The priest said that the people of the diocese not only provide support financially but also through prayers.

“A great number of the people are definitely praying,” said Msgr. Augustine. “Hopefully through their financial giving and prayers the retired priests’ health will remain good, so they can continue to serve the diocese. I think it is important because it does boost up the priests who are retired and shows them that people appreciate the work that they have given the diocese.”

Father Eugene Murray, also a retired priest, said his retirement depends on the priest pension fund and that this collection plays an important part in his life.

“For a lot of retired priests and priests who are nearing retirement, they depend on that fund to have at least a comfortable livelihood,” he said. “It means an awful lot to the extent that the collection for retired priests is necessary to maintain that (the priest pension fund). I think it certainly plays a big role.”

Bishop Walker Nickless is canonically obligated to care for all priests.  The Retired and Infirm Priests Collection is a way to assure the priests that their future is being looked out for.

One hundred percent of this collection stays in the Diocese of Sioux City. Parishes do a collection around Easter for retired religious, which is a nationally-based campaign and should not be confused with this local collection.  

Donations can be made safely online at www. scdiocese.org.



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