By Colleen Rowan
WEST VIRGINIA—The collection for the Priests’ Health and Retirement Association (PHRA) will be held in all parishes and missions of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston March 7-8, giving the faithful the opportunity to help provide support for retired diocesan priests.
This is the sixth year for the collection, and Msgr. Anthony Cincinnati, S.T.D., V.E., said that funds raised are important in helping to support diocesan priests with their needs in their retirement. The collection provides a way, Msgr. Cincinnati said, to help bring that support to the priests who have served God’s people so faithfully throughout their lives. Even in their retirement from active ministry, he said, diocesan priests continue to serve the people of West Virginia wherever and whenever they are needed.
“Each year the bishop asks the good people of our diocese to be mindful of the needs of the retired priests with the annual special collection,” Msgr. Cincinnati said. “The funds collected assist the diocese in providing a monthly retirement stipend for our priests.”
Msgr. Cincinnati noted that many priests, although retired from active ministry, assist in parishes and missions and in other ways throughout the state. Many will celebrate Masses for parish priests who have to go out of town or who are unable to because of illness. They engage with the faithful during Lenten missions, retreats and church activities. These are just a few examples of the many ways diocesan priests serve the people of God in West Virginia well beyond their retirement.
“We remain indebted to our retired diocesan priests not just for their years of faithful and active ministry among us but also for their continued willingness to assist us by filling in on weekends in parishes around the state,” he said. “Our numbers are such that we rely on our senior clergy members, when their health permits, to travel around the diocese supplying for our active priests who are away from their parishes because of commitments, illness or vacation.
“It is my hope,” he said, “that our people will continue to respond generously to the diocesan appeal and I know they pray for our retired priests and lovingly care for so many of them who reside around the state.”
For more information about the collection, contact the Office of the Episcopal Vicar for Clergy at 1-888-434-6237, ext. 271.