The word retirement brings about the connotation that one's work has come to an end. That might be a good definition in mainstream society, but when one examines the life of a retired priest, they find that the priest is just as busy, or sometimes, more busy than he was before retirement!
Here in the Diocese of Madison, priests are required to submit a letter to the bishop when they have reached 70 years of age. The bishop may grant them a retirement at that time, or, if they are able and willing, he may ask the priest to remain active until a successor to his parish can be appointed. Dioceses that experience a priest shortage are more likely to keep priests in active ministry until well past the age of 70 years.
Once in retirement, priests very often continue to serve in their home diocese, and sometimes in other dioceses as well. Many of the retired priests in the Diocese of Madison assist our active clergy with weekday and weekend Mass obligations, and other duties as their schedules allow.
The north wing of the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center's third floor has been reserved for our retired priests. Extensive renovations were done to create apartments specially for them. While at the O'Connor Center, they receive meals, nursing care and, if needed, assistance with transportation to appointments. The Bless Our Priests fund continues to provide for the needs of our retired clergy, to ensure that they are well cared for in thanksgiving for all that they have done and have given to the Church and her people here in the Diocese of Madison.
We are very proud of our retired priests, who have served our Lord and His people with full heart and devotion for many years, and who continue to serve the Church in whatever way they can. The priesthood is a life-long gift, and our retired priests show how deeply they love Christ and His people by their continued service.