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It’s Easter again, and once again we are asked to remember by our offerings to the Clergy Retirement and Benefit Fund our “retired priests”. I often think that whoever paired those two mismatched words was either in a hurry or simply lacking understanding of the nature of vocations, as a priest can no more retire from the priesthood than a mother can retire from motherhood. My own interactions with senior priests in recent years have only reinforced this notion.
The first priest that comes to mind at the phrase “retired priest” is our current senior priest in residence here at Sacred Heart in Middleboro and Rochester. In his retirement, Rev. Daniel J. Crowley celebrates several Masses per week as well as funerals, weddings and baptisms. He regularly hears confessions, anoints the sick, and participates in our intergenerational religious education program. He also acts as the spiritual director for our WINGS group, and instructs individuals in the faith at various levels of initiation. I admire him for his work ethic, further demonstrated by his readiness to shovel snow during a storm, remove debris from the lawn, or carry in donations for the thrift shop and food pantry. I also love the way his numerous acts of thoughtfulness show how much he cares and appreciates the staff.
His kind service reminds me of our previous senior priest in residence, the late Rev. Daniel F. Moran, who was also very active during his retirement. This Easter Season, I am especially remembering Fr. Moran, who moved on from this life last year on Holy Thursday. I remember his humble willingness to expose his own human frailties for our instruction, miss his tear-jerker homilies, and recall with great fondness the way he would cradle every child’s chin in his hands on the day of their 1st Communion and deliver the message, “Jesus loves you, and so do I.”
The remarkable thing about all my memories of Fr. Moran’s many years of service at Sacred Heart is that they all occurred after his retirement. He continued to help our community even in his infirmity, celebrating Mass though he could no longer navigate the stairs in front of the altar without the assistance of Eucharistic Ministers. His loving labors, like those of Fr. Daniel Crowley, were a tremendous gift to the parish. Without the gift of our retired priests, our parish could not offer nearly as much to our parishioners.
After Fr. Moran’s passing, it was comforting to hear from those closest to him, that he enjoyed regular visitors at St. Joseph’s Manor and continued to be a blessing to those around him. Moreover, it was gratifying to learn that he felt well-cared for and treated with dignity during his stay there. And because the Archdiocese handled all the details of his care, he was never burdened with excessive paperwork, or worried about the financial aspect of his care. I think we all want this for the priests who hold a special place in our hearts.
This Easter, as we remember the beloved priests who have served us through the years in humble holiness, let us pray for all our aging priests, visit them and send them greeting cards, and especially honor and support them with our offerings to the Clergy Retirement and Benefit Fund.
Gina M. Lewis is Business Manager at Sacred Heart Parish in Middleboro and Rochester, MA.
Fr. Daniel Moran faithfully served the Archdiocese for 62 Years before his passing last year. He served at parishes in. Melrose, Quincy, Lakeville, Scituate, St. Rose of Lima in Rochester, and Sacred Heart in Middleboro as well as serving 11 years as Chaplain at Archbishop Williams High School
Fr. Daniel Crowley has served the Archdiocese since 1968. He has served at Parishes in Canton, Quincy, Norwood, Braintree, Milton, Holbrook, and Sacred Heart in Middleboro. Additionally, he served as a Chaplain various hospitals and nursing homes, and also in service to the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska.