Opus Bono Sacerdotii – help priests who have no where else to turn

I have posted before about the Opus Bono Sacerdotii.  They help priests who have no one else to whom they can turn.  I know the people who started this organization and I have the highest confidence in them.  I have contributed.

This appeal can by email with a personal request to post it from one of the organizers:

Please read below:

“I’m 82 years old and have been a Catholic priest for a very long time. I am a priest in good standing and have been retired for some time now. Because of my infirmities (I am also blind in one eye), I am no longer able to offer Mass or administer the sacraments at the local parishes where I would receive a stipend to help supplement my Social Security of $670. I am paying rent on a small apartment. We are a small diocese and have no money to give priests like me who can’t work anymore at the parishes.

I have heard about your generosity to us priests. I know you have many more priests who are in greater need than me. Could you please help me with a monthly allowance to get by for food and electricity? I do have health insurance, but the co-pays for prescriptions and doctors visits are hard for me to manage. I am really afraid that I will have to stop taking my medicine.

I can pray my Holy Mass for you and your benefactors in my apartment, that is all I can offer!

Sincerely in His Name,

Father Charles”

The need is urgent and we are most grateful for any amount you could share with us for this priest who is in dire need.

God bless you,

Pete

To Donate: www.opusbono.org/donate.html

— To send a donation by check:

You can write a check to Opus Bono and send it to:
OPUS BONO SACERDOTII
P.O. Box 663
Oxford, MI 48371

Opus Bono Sacerdotii – help priests who have no where else to turn
0 votes, 0.00 avg. rating (0% score)
FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to Opus Bono Sacerdotii – help priests who have no where else to turn

  1. chantgirl says:

    Good grief. Catholics in dioceses where there is no retirement plan or home for priests should know that men who have served them for years are in such dire situations. Surely we can do better than this! Are there no second collections or KofC fundraisers for these men? Are the rectories so brimming that no one can let an elderly priest stay and quietly live out the rest of his vocation? I will give money for this man, but I am ashamed that he even has to ask. So much spouting about social justice, so little regard for the people in our own backyard!

  2. mamajen says:

    Thank you for letting us know. I will put this on my list of worthy causes to support. What a sad situation it is, but I’m happy that there are people aware of the need who are doing something about it.

  3. acardnal says:

    You are so right, chantgirl. It is shame that the priests who have brought us and our families the sacraments throughout our lives have to live like this.

    I personally have met a retired priest, who lives in another city, who was substituting for my pastor while he was away on vacation and retreat for several days. I saw him in the church before he would say daily Mass praying his Office and the rosary and then again after Mass. He told me how he would frequent the “soup kitchen” where he resides. Needless to say, I often bought him breakfast or lunch during his visit. And I pray for him in my daily rosary.

    No priest, no Mass. No Mass, no Eucharist. Let’s show our gratitude.

  4. acardnal says:

    P.S. When I said he ” would frequent the “soup kitchen” where he resides” that was not because he was making a pastoral visit but because he was hungry!

  5. NBW says:

    Thank you for letting us know Fr. Z. I thought the Diocese would take care of retired priests, but maybe that’s not the case. Chantgirl has brought up a good point; the Kof C could help out by doing a collection or fundraiser.

  6. Unable to resist the temptation to support this worthy cause with a little something.
    Thank you, Father Z!

  7. Did we have the problem of priests living in destitution before priests started being transferred from parish to parish, and priests and parishes ceased to have long-term stakes in each other’s well-being? Maybe it’s time to re-examine this policy of constantly uprooting priests.

    And I join in recommending this charity.

  8. Pingback: Requiem for Sheed & Ward Catholic Answers Blog | Big Pulpit

  9. Fr AJ says:

    This is sad issue that has arisen in modern times. In the old days, priests usually would not retire but instead stay at their parishes until death being cared for by their assistants if necessary. With the 1983 Code, mandatory retirement was introduced at age 75 (and there are few assistants in parishes to care for the aging pastor these days). Bishop’s can allow the priest to stay beyond 75 but many have not although it is starting to change with the priest shortage. Retirement brings the issue of where to stay and how to support oneself. Some diocese’s have retirement homes and some do not. Most retired priests I know live in apartments or very small houses and live from savings, diocesean pension payments (which vary dramatically, I’ve learned, from diocese to diocese), and stipends for saying Mass (in my diocese, our retired guys are covered by our medical insurance as well). Once they get too infirmed to travel to cover a weekend for a vacationing pastor that line of income is cut off.

    When I was ordained, I was told by the diocese to save all the money I could for retirement and not to count on the diocese for anything including medical coverage.

  10. Maria says:

    Thank you for this Fr. Z. I was worried about old priests for a long time as my friend told me before that they have no one else to go to. In my country, they care for the younger priest. I hope the USCCB can do for all the priest who needs this kind of support. I will support this for sure. I am supporting a parish that I don’t belong to because the parish priest have two retired priests in his care, his uncle and the former parish priest.

  11. Fr AJ says:

    I forgot to mention another aspect this, in the past many priests were told to opt out of Social Security since there was no need for it – the diocese and parish would always take care of the man. So fast forward to today and these men are retired and on their own not getting social security and can not get on medicare.

  12. Fr AJ: many priests were told to opt out of Social Security

    That’s right! And now many of us are facing some tough decisions.

  13. StWinefride says:

    Thank you for the information, Father. Very happy to help – it’s always nice to find out about new charities.

  14. benedetta says:

    I am thinking we will donate our lenten alms to this organization this year.

  15. It seems this problem OBS seeks to address is also a consequence of the secularization within the Church — particularly, local churches being run as though they are businesses by bishops who act more like middle management bureaucrats than shepherds of souls.

  16. heway says:

    I live in one of the poorest diocese in the country. Our retired priests have a retirement program and medical insurance. When too feeble to care for themselves, they stay with Little Sisters of the Poor. One monsignor had been living in a trailer park in a trailer paid for by friends. He was not receiving his pension. He had heart trouble, was hospitalized and now resides with the bishop. He walks his dog everyday…but is still able to celebrate Mass. If you are not being asked to contribute to a diocesan fund for priests retirement and another time for religious, then call the chancery and ask ‘why not?”

  17. It is heart-wrenching to read that priests, who spent their life bringing God’s greatest gifts, the Sacraments to people now have eat at soup kitchens. Why do dioceses no longer take care of priests in their old age, as Fr. AJ mentioned? :(

  18. acardnal says:

    Fr AJ wrote, “in the past many priests were told to opt out of Social Security since there was no need for it.”

    I found this alarming when I read it! Terrible decision by the diocese or bishop or whomever.
    I wonder if the chancery bean counters were favoring the diocesan financial situation over that of their priests? In other words, the diocese did not have to pay the employer’s portion of Social Security if the employee (the priest) was not enrolled and contributing his portion. (6.2 percent employee + 6.2 percent employer).

    Then there is Medicare (at 1.45 percent). I hope priests/dioceses were contributing to that otherwise no Medicare either.

    http://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/taxRates.html

  19. Fr AJ says:

    acardnal,

    In my own diocese we are considered “self-employed” so we have to pay that tax ourselves. The diocese is not our employer, nor is the parish. We get IRS Form 1099 from the parish, not a W-2.

    As this was told to priests before the 1983 code came out, I’d think that they legitimately thought it wasn’t necessary to participate in Social Security and Medicare.

  20. keithp says:

    I have been on their mailing list for little while now. I felt a gentle nudge to contribute this time around. So, that is what I did.

    It breaks my heart to hear of such need in our Priests who have given us and God all. As someone said, “no priest, no eucharist”.

  21. wmeyer says:

    In my own diocese we are considered “self-employed” so we have to pay that tax ourselves.

    As 1099 payees, you are also paying self-employment tax, not Social Security tax. The difference is that you pay at twice the rate of a W-2 employee, and also, there is no cap on the total, though I realize the latter won’t be an issue for a parish priest.

  22. acardnal says:

    Thanks Fr AJ, I was not aware of the “self-employed” status of some priests in some dioceses. Interesting.

  23. lucy says:

    Done. Happy to help with the little we can. Thanks to a previous commentor about this being a Lenten donation possibility…I will speak with my hubby about this issue and see what we can commit to. Hopefully a monthly donation.

  24. MouseTemplar says:

    Our family met Opus Bono through the Knights of Columbus from Detroit and now consider this group to be one of the primary works to which to contribute. You can set up a monthly donation via Paypal if that makes it easier to remember these men. Some of them are in situations that, in my mind, definitely qualify them as “The poorest of the poor” and I believe helping them is a true service to Our Lord.

  25. Fr.WTC says:

    In my diocese we are employees of the diocese for IRS taxes but are self employed for Social Security. We get a w-2 and a 1099. We pay 100 of our S.S. tax, self employed tax but cannot deduct our business expenses. In addition we are never vested in our “pension” plan. Upon retirement we are given half salary and must find our own place to live. I asked about this odd set up once and was told that we were given a salary to help us carry out our ministry. Bishops on the other hand keep a full salary are provided with housing and an expense account and maintain an office. Poor us members of the permanent presbyterate.

  26. Fr.WTC says:

    I need o add that God has always been good to this priest and his people have always been kind. Trust in the Lord always.

  27. APX says:

    I am ashamed that he even has to ask. So much spouting about social justice, so little regard for the people in our own backyard!

    I agree! Do we not have the same obligation to care for our spiritual fathers as we do our natural parents? Shame on them…

  28. poohbear says:

    This brought tears to my eyes, and I don’t get teary eyed easily.

    All of the Dioceses I have lived in take collections to help support retired Priests and also have retirement homes run by the diocese for those who are unable to live alone. I never knew this was not universal. Maybe it is a regional practice?

    I will add this group to my contribution list. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Fr Z.

  29. Adam Welp says:

    I can’t help but see a parallel between Priests in this situation and what some of our Vets have to go through. That being said, as soon as some spare dollars become available in the budget, to Opus Bono they will go.

  30. Kypapist says:

    Thanks for bringing this charity to our attention. But I want to advise those who receive 1099s and pay self-employment tax, this is social security and medicare which you pay on your earnings the same as someone who receives a w-2. You should be able to draw the benefits when you reach the eligible age (provided there is any left)! Also 1/2 of the self-employment tax is deducted on the front page of your 1040 as an adjustment to adjusted gross income (AGI). So you get to deduct from taxable income the “employer’s” portion of the self-employment tax, like those who receive W-2s do not include that amount (known as the FICA match) on our tax returns.

    Look at your 2011 Form 1040; if you are treated as an independent contractor and received a 1099, you should see self-employment tax on line 56 and a deduction for approximately 1/2 of that on line 27. If not, talk to a CPA.

  31. Liz says:

    Everyone should get on the Opus Bono email list and read all of the situations where priests need help. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation. Please donate to this fine organization. They do really good work and our priests MUST be taken care of. They have a a monthly donation too, if you like. Thank you, Father, for posting this.

  32. Kypapist, thanks to abortion and contraceptives, we are getting to the point where there are more people drawing on Social Security than paying into it. Sooner than we think, there will be nothing left.

  33. KAS says:

    I’ve added them to my list of places to donate monthly. Thank you for bringing this group to my attention.

  34. Supertradmum says:

    Some old and retired priests in England have to go into secular “sheltered housing”. These are not nice places, especially is one is in London. The poverty of priests is a reality here. God bless them all. It is too bad there are not large institutions for retired priest, as there were when I was a child. I use to walk past one such place daily walking back and forth to grade school. At one time, this building, supported by the diocese, held up to 40 priests.

    They are, now, so alone.

  35. Supertradmum says:

    sorry, if not is in second line. I am exhausted….moving stuff today.

  36. Pingback: Opus Bono Sacerdotii | Quicksilver to Gold

  37. joan ellen says:

    Thanks for this post Fr. Z.

    For those who have maxed out on their charitable giving fund, perhaps they also have a Mass stipend fund, which I consider charitable giving as well, but I also consider Mass offerings for family and friends gifts.

    Then there is the thought that the priests who can offer Mass can do that, and I’d be willing to have my usual priests that I ask to offer Mass, receive less so that my Mass intentions can also go to help these priests.

    These priests are having to accept charity. Humble is good, but in this sense it does not sit well with me. For them to receive Mass stipends seems to take it more out of the charity realm and put it more in the ‘work’ realm…work as in work for Jesus Christ…which they have been accustomed to doing, and perhaps still would be when able except for the Canon.

    So, since I am greatly in need of prayer, I will send a little $10.00 check (the usual stipend offering in the 2 Dioceses where I attend Mass) and ask that one of the priests, even perhaps asking if Fr. Charles himself, can/will offer a Mass for my soul, which is often in jeopardy and therefore so very needy.

  38. Fr AJ says:

    Fr. WTC,

    We are not vested in our pension plan either. Upon retirement, our priests get several hundred dollars per month and this is up to the good will of the bishop. It’s a great point of contention here not to be vested and not to have that money in a trust separate from the diocese. They are fearful the next big lawsuit against the diocese may impact pensions.

    The best advice I received from the diocese is save all the money you can for retirement, don’t assume the diocese will do anything for you. I spend less than $100 per month on food trying to save what I can. My biggest expense is driving back and forth between parishes, several hundred miles per week for which I get no reimbursement. But we have to keep in mind that the Lord provides.

  39. joan ellen says:

    Fr. Charles, 82, “Could you please help me with a monthly allowance to get by for food and electricity? I do have health insurance, but the co-pays for prescriptions and doctors visits are hard for me to manage. I am really afraid that I will have to stop taking my medicine.”

    Perhaps we can send the priests links to a couple of websites that may be able to help them shave a little expense off of their electricity/heat and also off of their health needs…and send some easy peasy exercises that any one should be able to do…except perhaps they should inform their Dr. and get his approval…such as using golf balls or tennis balls to roll their feet on and, supposedly, massage the whole body to help it keep in balance. I can send them some seeds for growing sprouts and the directions for same. These perhaps can also be considered charity or work as in personal care.

  40. kelleyb says:

    I am appalled many of our elderly priests are destitute and alone. God help us as a people. I made a donation, and will figure out how to do more. God have mercy on us.

  41. joan ellen says:

    Fr. AJ “I spend less than $100 per month on food trying to save what I can.” Fr., I am a widow and a young friend… a single girl several years ago said she spends $100.00 per month for food. I have tried to keep this budget. It is a difficult task, but doable. I have abandoned that task lately, but now feel I need to pick it up again so as to be supportive of you priests.

    This girl started using coupons, bought the priests she works for several thousand dollars worth of product for next to nothing using those coupons. She worked out a system. I don’t know it well enough to pass on to you. I can call her and ask her to consider sharing her program with the address that Fr. Z has with this post.

  42. APX says:

    Joan Ellen, it sounds like “extreme couponing”. In the US such is possible (the way coupons work in Canada, it can’t be done) and those who have this gift have the ability to help many people.

    When I had to quite my job for health reasons this summer and couldn’t work, I had to stretch what little savings I could in order to make rent and pay my bills. I managed to get my monthly grocery bill down to $50-60, but it wasn’t pretty. Eggs, beans, rice, milk, bread, and a few vegetables, and severely freezer-burnt chicken covered in mushroom soup (mushroom soup covers up everything, btw).

  43. This one tugged at my heartstrings– I couldn’t resist. Priests give up lots to help us get to heaven; it’s always sad when I see them in need or under attack. Really, every diocese ought to have a retirement plan for its priests; it is a matter of social justice, which like charity, begins at home. Why should anyone take us seriously when we exhort others to act justly when we do not take care of our own?

  44. Andrew Saucci says: Really, every diocese ought to have a retirement plan for its priests; it is a matter of social justice, which like charity, begins at home. Why should anyone take us seriously when we exhort others to act justly when we do not take care of our own?

    How about this: we get rid of the game of musical priests. Priests resume their status as spiritual fathers by staying in one parish permanently. Then, when he gets older and his health begins to fail him, he continues to live there as a mentor to younger priests, exercising his ministry to the extent he still can, with his needs being looked after by his spiritual children. That would be in line both with charity and subsidiarity.

  45. cathgrl says:

    Joan Ellen,

    You are talking about me. It is extreme couponing (but not cheating the system, to be very clear).

    There aren’t as many good deals, or rather, they ebb and flow more. The prices have gone up and the coupon values down. There wasn’t so much in December, but quite a few things for the Priests in January. I do the best I can.

    And Miss Anita Moore, I agree with you whole heartedly.

  46. StJude says:

    I get paid in a week and a half.. I will send money.
    Thank you Father Z.. I had no idea.

  47. swilson18 says:

    Thank you Father Z for making this known to all of us. And thank you Opus Bono Sacerdotii, for your good and holy work and for the installation of your PayPal button!

    It is an honor, joy and duty to give to those who have served selflessly to aid in saving our souls. We will know that the Church is back on solid ground, when we learn to take care of our own. What has happened to us in America? Some things should never be and a Priest living out his final days alone, wondering how he will pay for his most basic needs is one of them. Charity begins at home and home includes our shepherds. There is no better way to say Thank You and I Love You, then to be there for them in their last days.

  48. Pingback: Opus Bono Sacerdotii: Help Priests Who Have No Where Else to Turn - Christian Forums

  49. APX says:

    How about this: we get rid of the game of musical priests. Priests resume their status as spiritual fathers by staying in one parish permanently. Then, when he gets older and his health begins to fail him, he continues to live there as a mentor to younger priests, exercising his ministry to the extent he still can, with his needs being looked after by his spiritual children. That would be in line both with charity and subsidiarity.

    This isn’t foolproof. If you get a priest who is a 9-5 priest, who even then neglects his duties as a spiritual father, the parish will go to ruins, except no one will notice because it happens so slowly. To leave such a priest in a parish permanently would be an act against charity to the flock of souls under his care, and such would be almost like a cancer to young priests rather than a mentor.

  50. APX says: This isn’t foolproof. If you get a priest who is a 9-5 priest, who even then neglects his duties as a spiritual father, the parish will go to ruins, except no one will notice because it happens so slowly. To leave such a priest in a parish permanently would be an act against charity to the flock of souls under his care, and such would be almost like a cancer to young priests rather than a mentor.

    Nothing in this life is foolproof. But a father is meant to be a permanent fixture in a family. A healthy family does not have a string of stepfathers. The idea of the impermanence of fatherhood, whether natural or spiritual, is corrosive. Surely it is a greater evil to keep all priests and parishes in a constant state of upheaval than here and there to leave a negligent pastor in place.

  51. Fr.WTC says:

    Miss Moore you are 100% on the mark. We have a crisis of care for our older priests because we have adopted a disfunctional model of operation. The Church is at heart a familial organism, not a state government and not a corporation.

    It all comes down to theology does it not. Adopt a non-catholic ecclesiology and people suffer.

  52. joan ellen says:

    cathgrl says: 31 January 2013 at 9:55 pm
    “Joan Ellen,
    You are talking about me. It is extreme couponing (but not cheating the system, to be very clear).”

    Thank you for the clarification cathgrl. I so admire the efforts you put into your couponing program. You have developed it well. God bless you for this. It is just one more thing that the priests at OBS could learn to do to help themselves at this time.

  53. JuliB says:

    I hope that they can be referred to modestneeds.org which is one of the very few secular charities I support. (I’ve already donated to Opus Bono due to Fr Z having written about them before.) I follow Opus Bono on Facebook as well.

  54. jules1 says:

    Fr.WTC, you are very right! Why is it that convents and parish houses can not help with retired priests or nuns? In Australia , different orders seem to have their own retirement ‘ villages’- It is a great idea, but loneliness is a sad sad issue. WE as a church need to reevaluate our values in life through a truly CHRISTIAN lens.

  55. Supertradmum says:

    I shall be long gone when my son will be a retired priest, unless he is martyred with his generation, as I am almost 40 years older than he is. Even yesterday, he said he had no trouble with celibacy, but that loneliness looms large in his future and will be hard for him because of the lack of brother priests. It is a cross.

    We use to have priests “in” as a family for dinner and tea and cakes and such. I highly suggest the laity adopt a priest and make sure his needs are met even in retirement. I know one seminarian who does not have enough spending money now for necessities, and his mom has a donate button on her blog. There has been very little response. The laity can respond to such things. I pray many people here will help this priest. Needs are real and pressing.

    Why pass the buck? There is always room for one more person in a house, in my mind, if a priest is willing. All this priest needs is a “granny flat” or a special place in the family home. What an honor that would be. What an honor.

    For all the talk in the NO on “community”, most people do not have a clue that it means having an open mind, open heart and open house.

  56. St. Epaphras says:

    Supertradmum, Yes!! You wrote what I’ve been thinking. We’ve had a number of people living with us over the years and it wasn’t because we had money to spare! Different circumstances in each case, of course. It just seems natural to me. But a priest — that would be an even greater blessing. There’s no need for anyone to feel less a person because they are in a home with people who are not their “flesh and blood”. And as you said, it would be an honor to have a priest in one’s home.

  57. jhayes says:

    “Why is it that convents and parish houses can not help with retired priests or nuns?”

    Around here (Boston archdiocese) you will often see in parish bulletins one or two priests listed as “in residence.” Rectories in older parishes were built to accomodate many more priests than they have now. The archdiocese also operates Regina Cleri, a retirement home for priests.