Throughout the long history of our diocese, we have been served by hundreds and hundreds of dedicated priests. Today, there are 128 retired diocesan priests incurring the cost of living either on their own or the cost of living in one of our diocesan retirement homes.
I use the term "retired" loosely, because so many of them continue to minister sacramentally in the parishes and other ministries of our diocese. I think of such wonderful priests as Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti and Msgr. James Connelly who still serve you even into their 90s! I am sure that many of you have fond memories of a retired priest who baptized you or your children, heard your confessions, provided First Communion and assisted in times of sickness and death.
Obviously, as a diocese, we must care for the needs of these priests in their retirement years. It is not a surprise that the medical needs of the elderly are great, and that is the case with our retired priests. Medical and dental benefits rely month to month on contributions from the parishes of the diocese or institutions in which priests serve.
In consultation with various clergy and financial organizations of the diocese, I have determined that there is a need to establish a fund to ensure the security of these benefits. Actuaries for the Priest Retirement Board have determined that a fund of $27,000,000 would be needed for the care of our retired priests into the future. The current Upon This Rock campaign has designated 7 percent or $7,000,000 for this purpose. But, as you can see, this does not meet the total need.
Each year in December we conduct a collection for retired priests and sisters who belong to religious orders. While we thank you for your continuing generosity to the Retirement Fund for Religious, we also encourage you to have the same concern for the priests who have served our diocese.
I invite you to generously support the RETIRED DIOCESAN PRIESTS' MEDICAL BENEFITS FUND during a special second collection to be held on Aug. 6 and 7, the weekend closest to the feast of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests. Contributions may be mailed at any time to the Diocese of Buffalo, Lockbox Dept. 294, P. O. Box 8000, Buffalo, New York, 14240.
Continue to pray for our priests, whether serving or retired, and for continued vocations to the priesthood.