Editor's Note: The following is a guest editorial -- Ron Maness is a charter member of the Bishop’s Guild and a member of Good Shepherd Parish in Colleyville.
New Bishop's Guild will support priests, in formation and retired
Fr. Kyle Walterscheid looks on as priests lay hands on the newly ordained Fr. Michael Moloney and Fr. Manuel Holguin, at St. Patrick Cathedral June 9. (NTC Photo/Juan Guajardo).
Most people recognize the term “To Serve and Protect” in the context of policemen, firemen, or other community service organizations who use this slogan as a definition of their fundamental job. They are trained professionals who serve us as the public and protect our lives, property, and our rights under the law. In return, we do our best (hopefully) to ensure that our tax dollars support their needs in training, continuing education, supplies, health care, salaries, and ultimately their retirement.
There is another group of dedicated people who serve and protect us, albeit in a different fashion, whose service to us is just as important, if not more so, but whose needs are sometimes forgotten. These are our priests. They dedicate their lives to serving our spiritual needs, help us to understand God’s plan for us and our loved ones, bless our birth, baptize us in the faith, bless our death and in general, protect us spiritually. And yet, sometimes their lifetime sacrifice to and for us, leaves them stranded financially.
They can’t simply raise taxes, vote themselves a raise or control the cost of health care like Medicare supplemental insurance. Some of our priests get no retirement benefits at all and must depend upon relatives or other means in order to support themselves in retirement.
Most Catholics mistakenly believe that the cost of education, both initial and ongoing, as well as the cost of retirement, is covered by the Church. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. As our faith community grows, we need more priests. More priests in the seminary means more costs and upon retirement, more money is needed to support the post retirement needs facing many of our priests.
Supporting those who have served us is not as simple as a municipality raising taxes or a union bargaining negotiation. Recent data from the Texas Water Development Board related to the State Water Plan suggests that the Texas population growth will rise from 25.4 million currently to 43.6 million by 2060. We pray that a large portion of these new Texans will share our Catholic faith, but our prayer being answered simply compounds our challenge. More Catholics need more priests.
Several dioceses in the USA have instituted programs designed to help fill the financial gap and ensure that we can attract the best, brightest and most dedicated candidates for the priesthood. In addition these programs ensure that their lifelong service to us is rewarded by making sure that their retirement in fact covers the most basic needs including supplemental medical insurance.
Bishop Vann has chartered just such a program in the Diocese of Fort Worth led by a team of parishioners from across the diocese. Our program is called the Bishop’s Guild. The initial kickoff meeting was held in early June, and the program is in full swing recruiting Catholics who want to join us in meeting, to the extent possible, the needs of our new and retiring or retired priests.
The program will feature its own website (www.bishopsguild.com) and will utilize the latest in communications tools for mobile and social marketing as well as e-mail to stimulate participation and support. We invite all Catholics to support us in our challenge and to visit our website for more details about the program. The sacrifice we make now can ensure that our children and grandchildren will also have the luxury of a priest to serve and protect them, just like we have had. For more detailed information, visit the new website bishopsguild.com; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with “info please” in the subject line or simply text GUILD to 46246. Texting, message and data charges may apply.