Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we need this collection? Why doesn’t the diocese just take care of the priests?
Since the early 1960s, the Bishops of Manchester have provided and paid for retirement benefits to diocesan priests. Similar to the challenges that face the Social Security system and most pension funds, there are a greater number of retired priests today who are living longer lives than was anticipated in the 1960s. As a result, a special collection is necessary in order that sufficient funds are available to pay the retired priests benefits when they come due.
Don’t we already contribute to the priests’ retirement through another collection?
No. There is a December collection, instituted approximately 15 years ago, that benefits the religious sisters and brothers who served us, principally in our schools and hospitals. The monies contributed to that special collection do not provide any benefits to diocesan priests. The collection for the Priests Retirement Trust Fund is the first of its kind in our diocese to support retired diocesan priests.
Is there currently a lack of sufficient funds because monies set aside for priests retirement benefits were used for other purposes in the past?
The amounts previously set aside and saved for the payment of priests’ retirement benefits have only been used to pay those benefits.
How do I know if my contribution will really be used for priests’ retirement?
In 2007, the Bishop of Manchester accepted the unanimous recommendation of the diocesan Finance and Pastoral Councils and segregated the assets, previously collected and saved to support retired priests, into the diocesan Priests Retirement Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is administered by the Diocese of Manchester. The Bishop of Manchester is assisted by several lay and clergy trustees in administering the Trust Fund and in establishing funding plans and benefit levels. All the contributions received from this collection are deposited into the Trust Fund and used for priests retirement benefits.
Will any of this fund be used to support priests who are restricted from ministry?
No. Support provided to priests who are restricted from ministry is paid from investment earnings from unrestricted investments that are separate and distinct from the diocesan Priests Retirement Trust Fund.
What does a priest earn, on average?
Diocesan priests on average receive an annual salary and reimbursement for ministry expenses of $24,000 per year. Diocesan priests also receive room and board at their assignments, health and dental insurance coverage, and support for continuing education and an annual retreat.
Do priests pay into and receive social security?
Each priest pays federal income tax on his salary and also pays the entire amount of the Social Security tax based upon his salary and the value of his room and board. The percentage of Social Security tax paid (15.3%) is similar to the percentage paid by a self-employed individual in business.
How come priests don’t do what most other people do and plan their own retirement?
Most priests do set a portion of their salary aside for their own retirement. However given the salary they receive, the amount that most priests are able to set aside in combination with any accrued earnings, is not sufficient to provide for their basic needs in retirement.
How much does a priest receive in retirement benefits? (Income, insurance, etc.)
Each retired priest receives a monthly stipend of $1,500. In addition, each is provided supplemental coverage for medical costs not paid for by basic Medicare coverage. For those priests who are still able to drive their own vehicle, auto insurance coverage is provided for their vehicle.
Where does a retired priest live?
During his retirement years, a priest has the option of either living in a parish rectory or in a private home or apartment. If a priest opts to live in a parish rectory, he is required to pay rent to the parish for the room and board he is provided.
How else does the diocese support retired priests?
For those priests who are no longer able to live independently in their retirement years, assisted living and nursing home care is provided on an as-needed basis.
What is the average age at which a priest retires from active ministry?
Most priests retire as pastor between the ages of 70 to 75. However, many continue to assist pastors in ministering to the spiritual needs of parishioners during their retirement years.