Do priests retire?

An elderly diocesan priest was once asked, “Do priests retire?” He answered, tongue in cheek, ‘Yes, several times!’ His case was quite common. At the designated age of seventy-five, he officially retired, but immediately afterwards he was asked by his Archbishop to take on further responsibilities in the diocese. Shortage of manpower necessitated this, but the priest was happy to be engaged in work he loved.

Officially, diocesan priests retire at 75 years of age. Some retire earlier for health reasons; others retire officially but unofficially continue to work as priests to the best of their ability and their capacity.

Priests in religious institutes retire at an age deemed appropriate by their superiors in consultation with the priest himself.

In the normal course of events, a priest, whether diocesan or religious, will continue to serve according to his capacity and energy until he can no longer do so. He may do lighter duties such as offering Mass daily and on Sundays, hearing confessions, visiting the sick, being available for spiritual guidance, etc. When he is no longer able for active ministry, his priestly service continues in his daily offering of his life to God for the good of God’s people. In that sense, he never retires. 

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