In the Year for Priests: a local policy is amended

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The following arrived from the Archdiocese of Boston in this afternoon's email:
After consulting with the Presbyteral Council, His Eminence, Se├ín P. Cardinal O’Malley has promulgated an Amendment to the Archdiocesan Policy for the Life, Ministry and Support of Senior Priests, effective August 1, 2009. This Policy can be found in the Archdiocesan Pastoral Guidelines and Policies, Book II, pages 2307 et seq.

The Amendment states that priests are normally expected (health permitting) to remain in active ministry, as pastor, parochial vicar, or special assignment, until the age of 75. This is in keeping with The Code of Canon Law, wherein both pastors and bishops are asked to submit their resignation at age 75. Under this Amendment, upon reaching the age of 70, priests may request senior priest status but must agree to provide temporary emergency response until they reach the age of 75.


  1. No rest for the weary.

    This is definitely a Band-aid approach to the priest shortage situation/crisis. Cardinal Sean and the Presbyteral Council need to do some hard thinking and soul searching, as they ask priests to serve beyond the usual retirement date of age 70. Many dioceses have parish administrators/parish life coordinators who "pastor" the parishes they oversee. Obviously, some of the sacraments and celebration of the Eucharist must be done by a priest.

    Cardinal Sean, thus far, has not seen fit to try this approach. Before burdening priests any further in "their golden years," he should investigate results that other dioceses have had with this approach and, if positive feedback is ascertained, he should have a trial run with parish administrators/parish life coordinators in several parishes of the archdiocese.


  2. GULP!!!!! This is probably not totally unexpected, BUT......

    ...and the best laid plans of mice and men.....!!

  3. I work in a parish in which the retired pastor lives on the grounds. He - and happily I might add - drives to east nowhere and back every weekend to fill in where needed. He is older than 70 and less than 75, I think he went out at 70.

    Working in the parish office I am very grateful to several retired priests who live nearby and are generally available to help out when I call for weekday assistance, internments, sacrament of the sick etc.

    Overall, the whole situation needs revisiting at large... but that is simply my opinion.


  4. Austin,

    ...we will die with our boots on, our collars on, and hopefully, we've just finished singing the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil, ready to enter into the heavenly liturgy singing our Alleluias!

    I hope the Lord has patience for old priests who love to sing, but sometimes make mistakes.

    Wishing you summer peace and grace...Gene Vavrick

  5. It seems to me that forcing healthy priests to remain in active ministry until the age of 75 does not help promote vocations to the priesthood. The number of aging priests (who could be working in more than one parish) will increase and this fact will not make the lifestyle an attractive option to the young. We need better solutions.

  6. So much for planning for retirement at 70 !!

  7. My hope had been that I would retire from a full time assignment at 70 and continue to be of assistance on a part time basis. It's impossible for me to try to imagine "retiring from ministry." What I've been looking forward to is no longer sitting at the pastor's desk.

    My concern about the amended policy is uncertainty about how freely "senior priest" status will be given to those who request it at 70.

  8. Part of me thinks this is makes sense: allow priests to step away from the day to day and often grueling schedules of pastor at age 70, if they so choose. I think remaining in ministry to assist with the sacraments, would offer most pastors a huge improvement in their quality of life. This would allow them to tend to the life and health issues that arise with aging, and to still be able to to give of themselves in service to God and God's people.

    I do hope & pray that this senior priest status will be granted without exception.

  9. I have twice received an anonymous comment submitted in a language and alphabet I do not recognize. If the commenter reads English, perhaps he or she will resend in a form I can understand. I cannot post a comment when I have no understanding of its content.