What do retired priests do?

I’m not talking about those that are ill and cannot do anything or married priests (from anglicanism).

Do they still say mass everyday on their own, do they like to help out in their local parishes by saying mass?

Do they still hear confessions and visit the sick?

I know they are a priest forever but will they sit in the congregation on a Sunday for mass and can they just chill out in the evenings drinking port?

Do you think they miss being a parish priest or enjoy “retirement”?


I know 3 retired priests well. One was at a previous parish and he came on as a parocial vicar when he decided he did not like retirement.
The second is a relative of a relative (don’t ask me how). He does Masses regularly for a number of parishes and confession on ACTS retreats. He stays busy. He would be busier if he could drive himself but he has vision problems. He has been retired for over 15 years.
The third, I don’t know as well. He is a retired military chaplain and does Mass at our parish a couple times a month. When he does, he does confession before hand.



Several retired priests in my diocese hear confessions and help out at mass. These priests are very important in their contribution.


Every retired priest I’ve ever known* (roughly half a dozen) has been involved in a parish of their choosing - with cooperative permission of the bishop and pastor - and assisted with confessions and Masses, as well as any other task they choose, but the important distinction for everyone (and some have been quick to point this out) — it’s by their choice; no obligations to committees, office hours, or much of anything or anyone.

  • with one rare exception, and it was questionable if he ever really wanted to be a priest in the first place or was just pressured by his family.

The retired priests I know do pretty much everything they did before retirement, excepting most of the meetings they were stuck going to. Depending on their energy level, though, they do somewhere between somewhat less and a lot less of it.

As I told my sons once, priests don’t really retire. They just get a flexible schedule.


In my diocese many of the retired priests fill in which lets the priests in the mission parishes take time off.

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Some priests I know go back to “civilian life” in retirement, still showing up to priests’ gatherings but living on their own and not having much to do with the local parish, while others stay active in their local parish even if not living in the presbytery, helping out with supply.

Most of the retired priests in our diocese live semi-independently in a diocesan-owned facility, celebrating mass daily and eating meals together while also enjoying the ever-popular weekly happy hour!


The retired priests in my diocese reply they dont have to attend meetings anymore, but still fill in for masses and other pastoral issues.


The answers here correspond to what retired priests do in my diocese. The only “rule” (and it is not absolutely enforced in all cases) is that retired priests are asked not to reside in the last parish where they were pastor. This is to allow the new pastor to assume responsibility and not to be a source of confusion to parishioners as to who is “really” in charge. Most priests don’t seem to mind at all.


As far as I know, they still have to say Mass everyday, but I think they do it in private when not in front of a congregation. Someone correct me if I am wrong on this, please.

I know they usually help out when they are needed for example helping with confession, filling in for a parish priest when he can’t don the Mass and etc.

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Around here, we have a lot of priests who are in residence at parishes, which is essentially “retired” status. They usually say occasional Masses, hear some confessions, and engage in other ministries as they are able. I know one of them does nursing home ministry, which probably works well as he’s a similar age to the people he visits.

When they need more care, there are various retirement homes and nursing homes for old priests and they get sent there.

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I know a few retired priests and some are more active than others. Many still help out with Masses: some are a “retired priest in residence” who help out at a parish on a regular basis. Some only fill in when needed. Many I know often visit the sick, hear confessions, and act as spiritual directors.

The biggest difference with retirement is that they generally don’t have to do administrative work any more, and tend to have much freer schedules as a result… Which at 70 or 75 (the average retirement age) is well-deserved.


I didn’t know that, maybe it is different in other countries? Our retired parish priest still lives in the parish.

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