The challenge I had to face was to make sure that I would not become isolated
During the month of November, we ask for your help to support our sick and retired priests, to give them the care they need, at a time they need it the most. Most priests who offer their resignation at the age of 75 continue to serve their communities. Monsignor Tom Egan is one such priest. Albeit retired now for some years, he is still active in his service to his fellow priests. He told us that his life as a retired priest is a happy one, but that you do not fully retire: 'You step down from active ministry in the parish’, he said, ‘but you also help your fellow priests working in parishes when you supply for them to allow them to take time off and go on holiday'.
By giving to the Sick and Retired Priests Fund, you can ensure that retired priests, like Mgr Tom, are cared for after years of service to God and their parishioners. 'The challenge I had to face was to make sure that I would not become isolated and to keep active' said Mgr Tom. As well as swimming and walking for exercise and keeping in touch with family and friends, he is still actively involved in his deanery and local parishes. 'I go to the monthly deanery meeting to meet up with fellow priests and parish workers. I try to attend Diocesan Masses and events for priests'.
This has been made possible by your support. By giving a gift to the Sick and Retired Priests Fund, Mgr Tom, like so many of our other active retired priests, have a support priest assigned to them, to make sure they are well and have what is needed.
The SRP fund also ensures that other essential costs are met, like making a flat accessible to a disabled priest. It also enables priests to have regular visits from a carer after undergoing surgery. One such priest who has experienced this first hand is Father Brian Reynolds.
'Seven years ago, I had a lifesaving op for bowel cancer and received great support from the retired priests fund, especially Sr Clement'. By working closely with the NHS, local councils and social services, we can ensure priests like Fr Brian are cared for post-surgery. Nevertheless, there will be gaps in funding. We have a duty to ensure our priests have peace of mind in their senior years, and by supporting the fund, you can help to bridge these gaps and give care where it is needed most.
Fr Brian is now fully recovered and in good health and like Mgr Tom, he is still active in his ministerial duties. 'I have tried to continue my ministry of priestly service by supplying and being generally helpful in the parish of Hemel West and as my contribution to the parish community. I also, to a lesser degree, help out in Hemel East and any other local parishes occasionally. If I am not presiding at a Mass, then I join the priestly people in the pews'.
Retiring 10 years ago, Fr Brian has been able to live independently in a purpose-built parish flat. His neighbour, Fr Bernard, occupies the other retired priest's flat and he said they are able to support and look out for each other, which is reassuring.
Through your continued support, Fr Brian, like Mgr Tom, has been well cared for and supported, so in turn, he can still continue to support his local parishes when they need him the most.
Fr Brian summed it up: 'In retirement I am grateful for God's gift of time, time to pray without rush. Also, time to listen to people, especially parishioners. Parishioners on their part are very supportive'.
In his view the SRP Fund and the Patrons programme 'is like a best kept secret', and Mgr Tom echoed these thoughts: 'I am grateful and thankful to all the Patrons of the Sick and Retired Priest Fund for showing their interest and concern for the retired priests'.