retired priests

What do retired priests in the US generally do? can they still celebrate Mass, celebrate Reconciliation. How could they celebrate Mass if in an assistant living place?
do they still retain the powers of a priest?

Retirement doesn 't mean they give up their priestly faculties, it just means they don’t have any parish responsibilities. We had a retired priest living in our parish. For awhile he would say Mass in the parish but as he got older he simply said Mass alone. He didn’t hear confessions or do anything else in the parish. He basically did things that any retired person would do. When my pastor retires in a few years he is moving into the house that he inherited when his parents died. He plans on doing some travel and maybe helping out in a parish once in awhile while he is still able.

Those who live in assisted living facilities usually don’t say mass publically, although they can if they are able. We have a specific facility for retired priests with Mass every day.

When they are retired they aren’t generally kept in their ministry (hence being retired) but I imagine some stick around and help out their diocese/order in any way they can, if they so choose. But just as it is with being Catholic, once a Priest always a Priest.

There are several retired priests near us that come and say mass when our priest goes on vacation. One is a snow bird and is only down here during the winter. The other is retired and has bought a house and lives in the same diocese where he was a priest. Both are good priests and we are always glad to see them.
I used to work in a catholic retirement community and by the time a priest got to the full care unit, they didn’t say mass anymore. But I know we put the nuns in their habits every morning unless they were 100% bedridden and most of the priests dressed with their black shirts and some wanted their collars on, some didn’t.
I always found the nuns and priests to be really good patients for the most part. The nuns especially were so patient teaching us how to get their veils and such one, it could get comical and we’d all end up laughing so hard we’d have tears running down our faces! Now I believe that many of the priests who were in the lesser care parts of the community still said mass and would take turns saying daily mass for the different areas of the facility and the different floors of the full care part.
I really miss that facility, it was a great place to be a nurse!

The retired priests I know are religious so that may make a difference.

In general they do as much as they can based on their abilities. They help in the parish with weekday Masses and confessions. They visit hospital patients. They offer spiritual direction. In the case of a priest who had to enter a nursing home, I wasn’t surprised to hear that he started a Bible study group for the residents.

Among the Jesuits, each one has a ministry. For the Jesuits in an elder care facility, their ministry is listed as prayer and they take it seriously.

From what I’ve seen, retired priests get to finally do what they wanted to do all along: priest stuff. No more budgets, school board meetings, personnel issues, nothing. Just priest stuff: administering Sacraments, visiting hospitals and nursing homes, and playing golf. :smiley:

They fill in when other priests are sick or on vacation or retreat. They provide the spiritual leadership at Engaged Encounter retreats and the like. You’ll find them at penance services during Advent and Lent. As they get older and frailer they just sort of fade away. It’s not a sudden disappearance like when someone retires from a secular job, it’s a gradual thing.

Every priest I know either a)loves being retired or b)looks forward to retirement

Ours is ill and has retired to Florida but comes back up about 1/2 the year to still be in residence and serve Mass and hear confession. He’s still a priest.

Some act as spiritual directors.

Depending on the condition, they may or may not be able to celebrate Mass or hear confession. Ours has early Alzheimers. He’s still with “it.” I expect that at some point he will become incapacitated, but for now he spends 1/2 his time at the parish and 1/2 the time in Florida where I expect he also takes on some duties at the local parish. When here he’s in residence at his former parish. When in Florida he has his own apartment.

Truth be told, those who remain healthy and vibrant do truly enjoy their restored ministry in retirement. Somehow very fitting …

I love speaking to and learning from our elder priests. They should be treasured in every respect.

We were fortunate enough to have our youngest child baptised (initiated, in our Rite) by the pastor emeritus of our parish. Although he was frail (in his 80s) and needed the assistance of the deacon with some of the more physical aspects of the ritual, you could tell from the glean in his eye that he was truly pleased to have occasion to perform this sacramental act. Our baptisms are often done at the beginning of the Sunday Divine Liturgy (Mass). Father later shared in his homily that he hadn’t performed a baptism since he retired, and was filled with joy to have occasion to do so once again, especially since he didn’t have to do the paperwork! :wink:

We pray for all of our retired priests, that they remain in the grace of the Holy Spirit, and continue their peaceful and unencumbered ministry with the respect and dignity they deserve.

We are blessed at our parish to have four priests, three past retirement age, and the pastor very close to it. They split the responsibilities of the Sacraments, so no one is overwhelmed.

I come from a diocese where priests continue offering Sunday Masses into their mid 80s until they finally retire.:smiley:

And priests never lose their priesthood “powers”. Even those who are laicized still have the ability to absolve sins, confect the Eucharist, etc. They’re just not permitted to do so, except in the case of grave emergency.

As others have pointed out, a priest is always a priest. To be retired simply means that they no longer have an official assignment. The upside to retirement is that a priest is relieved of all the administrative headaches that come with running a parish or church ministry. The downside is that he’s lost his “right” to a rectory and has to make his own living arrangements. So if you have a retired priest in your parish, be kind to him at holidays because he’s essentially on his own for housing and food.

How do you know for sure if retired priest have faculties to hear confessions?
I went to a retired priest for several years for confession and then found out he is not in good with the local Ordinary.

From what I heard a laicized priest does not have the ability to absolve sins unless he is given jurisdiction from a bishop.
Then I do not think he would be laisized anymore.

I also once went to a retired priest for confession [he had faculties] and he refused to absolve me for my grave sin of masturbation.
He said, and I quote, 'The Church does not teach masturbation is a sin in any case, maybe only a venial sin".

I am glad that retired priests can step in and help as needed especially if the regular parish priest is ill or on vacation. One parish I go to has a retired priest who came in and filled in while the pastor was out ill for several weeks. The diocese I belong to has many retired priests, and I am sure they do what they can to help the younger priests.

Another parish some distance has a 90 something year old priest that continues to actively serve his flock at one ethnic parish as he has been there in some capacity as a priest for nearly 60 years or so. He still says daily Mass, 1 Mass on Saturday/1 on Sunday, hears confessions, allows use of his church for the EF Mass on Sunday afternoons (and sometimes help the presiding priest with Communion), leads the Rosary in Polish on Sundays afternoons followed by Benediction/Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in English, and visits his homebound/hospitalized parishioners - many who are younger than he is. A true inspiration to all priests to keep going as long as their health & mind permits them. The priest even has a few hobbies on the side outside of church too. :slight_smile:

We are blessed to have a retired priest who helps out for Sunday Eucharist at my parish. He’s 85. I can honestly say that I look forward to his homilies. He has problems with mobility but as a presider he lacks nothing. Love him!

We had a particularly old retired priest at our parish who would shuffle out at recess with a ball on a string and a bat, and swing the ball around his head for the younger kids.

That was about all he did, but it probably added years to his life, and was a great interaction with a priest for the little ones


Where did he hear the confession? Odds are that if he’s staying in a rectory and saying Masses at the parish that he has faculties. There have been a few who slipped through the cracks but that’s pretty rare.

Father was living in a home he rented himself, and offered Mass in a chapel in the home.
He was 79-83 years old at the time.
He offered to help local priests offer the Traditional Latin Mass, and these pastors accepted his help, but when the Ordinary found out Fr Murphy was offering these Mass’s he made the pastors stop it.

At my parish my old pastor moved to Florida when he Retired. But his brother who wasn’t assigned to our parish moved across the road from the church, when he retired. The retired priest helps out with confessions and mass. He usually con-celebrates on Saturday’s, but I think he was a little hesitant whenever the new missal came out. He also fills in for my pastor when he goes on vacation. But I think he prefers to be a parishioner, he usually attends mass on Sunday morning without con-celebrating.

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