With Thanks for Their Service in Christ
The blessings of a priest to our Catholic life of faith are boundless. Perhaps a priest baptized your infant daughter, or administered your son’s first Holy Communion. Perhaps he witnessed your marriage vows as you celebrated the Sacrament of Matrimony, or presided at the funeral Mass of a loved one called home to the Lord.
But the retirement years can be difficult for these men who dedicate as many as 50 years or more of their lives to caring for and ministering to others. With gratitude for their years of faithful ministry, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit have acknowledged and embraced the responsibility for helping our priests during their retirement. At age 70, our priests begin receiving automobile and health insurance and a $1,500 monthly pension from the Priests’ Pension Plan. Senior priests use this money for basic needs, such as food, housing and transportation.
Each year, parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit have the option of taking up a special collection to help pay its per-priest pension plan assessment. This special collection, With Thanks for Their Service in Christ, is held each September.
Please take a moment to read the stories of three senior priests who continue to serve the Archdiocese, and prayerfully consider your gift to the Priests’ Pension Plan.
Fr. Tom Sutherland
'You don't retire from a vocation'
Being a senior priest has been busier than I anticipated, but I love what I’m doing.
I stay active as a priest presenter for Worldwide Marriage Encounter, and I help out at dozens of different parishes when they need assistance for Masses and funerals. I also celebrate the sacraments at the Monastery of St. Therese for the Discalced Carmelite Nuns. If I’m not responding to a parish request, I attend daily Mass at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish, the Shelby Township parish I founded. My successive pastors have been so welcoming.
When I was a full-time priest, we pastors all said, “Thank God for those retired guys. We’d be up a creek without them!” Now, they all tell us the same thing. They are grateful to have a number of senior priests helping them out.
You don’t retire from a vocation, especially one that is so fruitful, joyous, and rewarding.
Father Lawrence Delonnay
'I want to be of ministry to priests now'
I retired in June 2017 after 42 years of active ministry. My more than two decades as pastor of Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Waterford gave me a good understanding of how senior priests can help out.
A significant part of my ministry was to priests – I served on a health panel and help priests struggling with substance abuse issues. Continuing this ministry is important to me, especially given how stretched thin many pastors are. If I can be of assistance to help make the life of other priests easier, then that’s what I want to do.
Moving to the northernmost part of the Archdiocese, where I’ve had a home for years, has given the opportunity to help the pastor and associate pastor at SS. Peter and Paul Parish, North Branch, which has four worship sites. Giving them the opportunity to take time away from the parish, to get the rest they need, makes their ministry more effective.
As a senior priest, I’m able to dedicate myself more to prayer. That has been one of the greatest blessings — having more time for just the Lord and me to talk.
Father Ed Prus
'You never run out of love for the priesthood'
One of the joys of being a senior priest is being able to see all of the wonderful priests and parishes, and tremendous lay people, in the Archdiocese. I wish the archbishop had the flexibility to see what we see as we help out at parish communities. As a chaplain for the Detroit-Oakland chapter of Serra International since I retired, I work to promote vocations. It's a pleasure.
My goal when I retired was to go out of the state and the country once a year. I often help out during Easter in Marathon in the Florida Keys, and offer my assistance in Arizona, too. I also travel to Florida and northern Michigan with my seminary classmates each year, and enjoy heading to Stratford, Ontario, for plays.
I stay pretty busy golfing, reading and walking. I faithfully walk three to four miles each day. I live at St. James Parish in Ferndale, and since I was once pastor of Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, I have a lot of wonderful friends in this area.
I've really enjoyed being a priest. I don't know how God chose me, but I'm so glad He did.