LAKE CHARLES – One of the major goals in the Return to the Lord Capital Campaign of the Diocese of Lake Charles was to enhance the Priest Retirement Fund.
These monies are invested and only the interest earned from that investment goes to assist retired priests, of which there are currently 13, with pensions and health insurance coverage. All of these men are priests who have been incardinated into the diocese and, thus, are the responsibility of the diocese.
The goal set for adding to the funding of the Priest Retirement Fund, which had nearly $1.5 million at the start of the Capital Campaign, was $3.2 million.
Currently, generous donors from throughout the Diocese of Lake Charles have pledged $1,533,996.23 with payments totaling $863,337.96.
Providing a dignified retirement for these men that have spent their lives in service to God in this local church is of utmost importance. Increasing this fund is significant because our priests are living longer and, just as for the laity, their healthcare costs continue to increase.
Not that far into the future, there will be additional priests who will retire. In the next eight years, perhaps as many as 12, and that does not take into account those who may become too ill to perform their pastoral duties during that time.
Bishop Glen John Provost ordained a single priest in 2018 and, with the Grace of God, will ordain another in 2019. Four men studying in Rome and Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans currently are schedules to be ordained transitional deacons next year and then to the priesthood for the Diocese in 2020, the largest class of men to be ordained priests for the Diocese in its history.
Currently, retired priests will have paid into Social Security, receiving a monthly check from the Social Security Administration and being eligible to receive benefits from Medicare. Those diocesan priests serving now also pay into that system. Religious order priests serving in Southwest Louisiana are the responsibility of their religious orders.
Many of the retired priests continue to perform significant service to various churches of the local church, such as filling in for masses when a priest is on vacation or has out of the parish on retreat or educational reasons.