The Diocese of Buffalo will hold its first-ever collection intended specifically for the benefit of retired diocesan priests on the weekend of Aug. 6 to Aug. 7. One of these priests, Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti, currently lives at the O'Hara Residence behind Cardinal O'Hara High School in Tonawanda. Last month, he spoke about what this fund means to him and the others with whom he lives.
"I had to retire when I was 75 in July, 20 years ago," Msgr. Lorenzetti explained. "I am grateful for the hospitality, warmth, love and goodness the diocese has rewarded those of us who have given our service over our years of priesthood. We're given housing, a pension, and with that pension, we are able to pay for the hospitality that the diocese offers us in our homes. If they continue offering what they're offering at the present time, I can't expect anything more other than transportation."
The goal of the diocesan priests' retirement fund is to establish a collection specifically for the retired priests. Contrary to popular misconception, this fund is not a part of the annual collection for retired religious, which benefits order priests, brothers and sisters, but not diocesan priests, and takes place in December. Bishop Richard J. Malone opted to move toward creating this separate fund in order to ensure retired priests can enjoy benefits. The fund would help 128 aging, retired priests to address the increasingly rising costs of medical and dental care.
When asked what he has enjoyed most about the priesthood, Msgr. Lorenzetti likes the "peace and the joy of being able to assist people in their spiritual journey."
He celebrates Mass weekly at St. Martha Parish in Depew in addition to St. John the Baptist in Kenmore. On July 23, he celebrated his 95th birthday.
"I believe that priests offer a security to the people, as they take leadership roles, leading people in their journey to the kingdom," Msgr. Lorenzetti added. "We are all anxious to meet each other in heaven with God, and the role of the priest is to assist the community to achieve that objective."
Msgr. Lorenzetti was born in Buffalo and graduated from Hutchinson Central High School in Buffalo in 1938 before attending Chown Business School, Canisius College in Buffalo, St. Bonaventure University and Christ the King Seminary in Olean. He also served in the U.S. Air Corps, the predecessor of the modern day Air Force, before his May 30, 1953, ordination in Buffalo, by Bishop Joseph A. Burke.
"I went into the service as a stenographer," he recalled. "I was in the service in Africa and Italy during World War II. I came back from the service and I worked for the New York Central Terminal as a stenographer, and then I went into the seminary at the age of 26. I got ordained at the age of 32."
Msgr. Lorenzetti went on to serve for decades at parishes throughout the diocese, including St. Mark in Rushford, Holy Cross and Our Lady of Lourdes in Buffalo, and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Orchard Park. Between 1958 and 1977, he was a director of the Diocesan Family Life Department and named the "Man of the Year" by the Hillery Scholarship Foundation in 1987. He retired in 1996, but became a common sight at St. Martha and St. John the Baptist, where he is known for his energetic style.
As a pastor of Holy Cross and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Msgr. Lorenzetti had a positive experience and said this brought him a "great deal of satisfaction" in being able to serve.
"In life, the role of any married couple would be to get the other to heaven, and the role of a priest is to get his congregation to heaven," Msgr. Lorenzetti added. "Therefore, no matter what cost, no matter what it takes, his goal, his objective is to sacrifice and deny of himself so that goal can be achieved, just as in marriage where each spouse would do the same for the other to get the other into heaven."
When asked about declining numbers of priests, Msgr. Lorenzetti expressed the belief that a prevailing attitude of entitlement, in which people ask "what's in it for them" and not others, has contributed to this issue. He said the goal of the Catholic priesthood is not for a man to see what is in it for him.
"We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. In so doing that, as we deny ourselves, we don't think about entitlements. We think about giving of our lives for His glory," he said.
To make a contribution to help retired priests, consider donating to the diocesan retirement fund during the second collection held in diocesan parishes on Aug. 6 and 7. Contributions may also be mailed to Diocese of Buffalo, Lockbox Dept. 294, P.O. Box 8000, Buffalo, NY 14240.