Priests Retirement Luncheon joyfully celebrates ministry and service of retired priests

By Rod Linhares

The joyous celebration known as the Priests Retirement Luncheon was held on Friday, October 14, at Patron’s Hall in St. Mary’s Cathedral.  This was the 12th annual event, and it is one of the highlights of the year in the Archdiocese.  As always, this year’s luncheon was a spirit-filled gathering that combined exalting our retired priests with reinforcing the tremendous impact of financial support.

The Priests Retirement Luncheon is an expression of gratitude to all our retired priests for their lifetime of ministry and service.  These special men have been present in many of life’s most precious moments, from birth to death, sharing God’s message of love and compassion.  It is now our turn to care for them as they have cared for us.  The Priests Retirement Luncheon – and Priests Retirement Fund – enable us to do so.    

Father Anthony Chung and Father James Garcia were this year’s honorees, with Father Andrew Spyrow, Vicar for Clergy for the Archdiocese, serving as the emcee.  The 350 attendees were entertained by the Children’s Choirs of Good Shepherd School in Pacifica and St. Augustine Parish in South San Francisco, seminarians from St. Patrick’s Seminary and University, and a variety of priests speaking about their peers and the significance of financial support.

More than $2.6 million has been raised since the first luncheon in 2011, and this generosity has made a real difference in the lives of our retired priests.  Without it, they may not receive the care they need and deserve.  

Funds raised through the luncheon and in the Priests Retirement Fund help pay for unreimbursed medical expenses, assisted living and skilled nursing care that are not covered by insurance.  It provides these special men with financial security, peace of mind and the knowledge that many people care.  In the words of Retired Auxiliary Bishop, the Most Rev. Bill Justice, “Your support makes a real difference in my life and the lives of my fellow retired priests.  We are grateful for your tremendous generosity and your prayers.”

The luncheon also gives our priests and parishioners throughout the Archdiocese the chance to come together, renew old friendships and make new ones.  For many laity, it’s an annual opportunity to spend time with the men who have been such a significant part of their lives.  As Father Garcia noted, “Seeing some of the people from the parishes where I worked brought a very happy reminder of my 52 years as a priest!” 

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone also shared his appreciation for the retired priests at the event, stating that even in so-called “retirement,” our retired priests practice Jesus’ vocational directive to a lifetime of service.  Many continue to minister in archdiocesan parishes, schools, hospitals and nursing homes.  They celebrate Mass, visit the sick, hear confession, attend parish events and serve as spiritual directors.  Their devotion to the faith and faithful is unrelenting – yet another reason to celebrate them at our annual luncheon….and every other day as well.

The generosity of our donors and the unparalleled commitment of our event volunteers is an inspiration.  Individuals from parishes throughout the Archdiocese, such as Phil Hudner, Barbara McCullough, Frank Noonan, Lenore Heffernan, Daisy Young, Norma Guerrero, Grace Andrade, Moira Conzelman, Diane Luporini and many more contribute in a variety of ways.  Their commitment to these men and our faith is instrumental to the uplifting spirit, vibrancy and financial success of this very special gathering.

On behalf of our retired priests and everyone dedicated to their care, we once again offer our thanks for making the Priests Retirement Luncheon such a wonderful celebration of such special men.  We look forward to seeing everyone next year!

Rod Linhares is the director of Mission Advancement for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Photos: Dennis Callahan, Archdiocese of San Francisco.