Affirming lives through clergy support in retirement years

May 12, 2015

HOUSTON — As the Catholic Church continues to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life, proclaimed by Pope Francis last November, this provides an opportunity to honor and respect those who have received Holy Orders and are configured to Christ through the special grace of the Holy Spirit. This includes priests who have reached retirement age and if not helped, could face an uncertain future since many don’t have 401Ks, pensions or Social Security to support them.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston places important emphasis on taking care of retired priests and deacons and their wives. The ministry responsible for this care and support is the Clergy Pastoral Outreach Ministry, which was created almost a decade ago by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. It also is one of 60 ministries currently supported by the 2015 Diocesan Services Fund (DSF).

Similar to individuals who care for their own aging parents during retirement years, the Clergy Pastoral Outreach Ministry is responsible for addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of all retired diocesan clergy residing within and outside the Archdiocese. Its mission is to address these needs through the social teachings of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.

Currently, the ministry primarily serves more than 67 retired priests as well as 148 retired deacons and their wives, with that number expected to double over the next decade as more reach retirement age.

“My staff and I warmly greet all retired priests and deacons and their wives in our Archdiocese and abroad, and are proud to serve and minister to them as they continue on their journeys serving the Lord in the later stages of life,” said Deacon Gary Hilbig, director of Clergy Pastoral Outreach. 

The Clergy Pastoral Outreach Ministry offices in the St. John XXIII Priest Retirement Residence located at St. Dominic Village. The ministry aspires to keep retired clergy connected to the Archdiocese through special events, news and community resources.

Currently, Holy Hours, prayer groups and daily Mass are offered to the clergy in the on-campus chapel. In addition, social opportunities include monthly birthday parties, movie days, outings to the spaghetti luncheon at the Sacred Heart Society, as well as tours of various churches and chapels, museum trips and zoo. Many staff members can be seen accompanying the clergy to doctor’s appointments, hospital emergency visits or longer hospital stays as well. Transportation also is made available via a driver in a disability van owned by the Archdiocese.

St. Dominic Village provides for independent and assisted living, and nursing home care for retired priests, 75 years or older, and deacons, 70 years or older, as well as some lay residents. 

By contributing to the DSF, Catholics living in and outside of the Archdiocese support the ministry’s efforts to care for these retired priests and deacons whose needs continue to grow each year. Current funding is being used for much-needed improvements to St. Dominic’s Village, which was built in 1975. The Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Priest Retirement Center will include new heating/cooling systems, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliancy, and additional space for 10 more occupants, a larger chapel, a small library with community computers and an exercise room.

“Our ministry also is extended to retired priests and retired deacons and their wives who live outside of St. Dominic Village,” Hilbig said. “Activities include home visits, lunch gatherings and social service support, such as gathering of resources to meet clergy needs.”