Easter parish collections support archdiocese's priests

A senior priest holds the Eucharist during a Mass with Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley at Regina Cleri in January. Pilot file photo/Christopher S. Pineo

BRAINTREE -- Easter brings with it the opportunity to support those who have tirelessly served the faithful over the years.

The Clergy Health and Retirement Trust seeks support from the faithful at a few key times each year. Annual parish collections on Easter, Christmas, and during the month of September --combined with financial support from the annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner -- contributes 60 percent of the trust's annual funding. The remaining 40 percent comes in through a medical insurance assessment for all active priests paid for by their parish or other assignment.

Joseph D'Arrigo, executive director of the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust, spoke with The Pilot March 24 about the work his office does in keeping the priests of the archdiocese healthy both physically and mentally.

"We're very aggressive in trying to keep our guys healthy, but both active and retired guys are going to get sick," he said.

Established in the early 1970s, the trust provides for the health and retirement needs of senior priests, healthcare costs of active priests, and maintenance of the senior priest retirement home, Regina Cleri. Currently 628 priests serve the archdiocese, 256 of whom are senior priests. Regina Cleri houses 54 permanent senior priest residents.

"In the next 20 years, we will have 265 new men becoming senior priests. So, the Clergy Fund looks to do two things. One is to make sure we have enough funds to pay for all our priests out in the future. The second thing that we do is to continue to look at not only paying for their medical costs and their retirement stipends, we look to better their quality of life," D'Arrigo said.

When the archdiocese appointed D'Arrigo in 2008, he brought with him more than 40 years of experience in the field of healthcare benefits. He said the money that comes in each year also supports initiatives focused on maintaining quality of life and healthy living.

"Those are the kinds of things that the clergy fund is doing. That's where the money is going. It is not only paying the bills, but it is providing for the seniors and the active priests an emphasis on their quality of life," he said.

According to D'Arrigo the per capita expenses for both active and senior priests are trending down at this time. Even as the overall expense goes down, the amount that the fund spends on prescriptions for priests has gone up. For D'Arrigo, even the increased prescription costs is a positive sign, most likely indicating that priests are being more diligent about taking their maintenance medications.

"Our drug bills are going up a tad, the same number of people are taking them. That hasn't gone down, but our medical costs are going down," he said.

The trend relates to a wellness program instituted by the archdiocese in 2010, according to the director.

"Wellness is hard to calculate. It's a fact in most corporations. However, we're seeing a dramatic shift in the longevity of our priests, and our medical costs year-over-year, interestingly enough, are coming down," he said.

Health care coordinator Mary Hanlon, a registered nurse with more than 10 years of experience, created a healthy lifestyle program specifically for priests in the archdiocese aimed at helping them stay healthy through prevention, education, and outreach. That initiative created a focus on tracking and encouraging factors that promote healthy living amongst the clergy.

"Now, since we have been doing it for a number of years, we have a baseline on them. So, we know how active they are," D'Arrigo said.

Regular interaction lets the office know when a priest stops celebrating the Mass, hasn't been out and about with other priests for a while, or has stopped leaving the house.

D'Arrigo said the fund office also makes efforts to help the active priests remain healthy physically, but also mentally. For active priests, the office has provided seminars on topics such as stress reduction and conflict resolution.

He said Regina Cleri, the home for retired priests in Boston, not only provides excellent service to the priests but also allows the fund office to track information for analysis against industry standards at comparable facilities like assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Regina Cleri has exercise programs, brings primary care physicians to the facility, and helps residents maintain compliance with their prescribed healthcare treatments. He highlighted these aspects of the work at Regina Cleri and also pointed out that the facility provides ongoing formation for priests living there. He said some priests choose to face their final hours on earth at Regina Cleri amongst their brother priests.

"It would be almost impossible to replicate the spiritual dimension of that place," D'Arrigo said.

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...