The example of Salesians who persevere in serv-ing the Lord with joy for many years is inspiring.It is a “narrative of hope” we are happy to share.
During the summer months in E-Service , we will feature an elder SDB in the province of St. Philip the Apostle, 85 years and older, giving them a chance to tell some of their story. What a blessing it is to know these men, learn from them how to say “yes” too the Lord every day, and young people today to listen to voice of the Good Shepherd calling them, and to say their own “yes” with all their heart.
Sometimes we joke, “Don’t get old!” Our walking slows down, our memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, we feel more aches and pains, we have to go to doctors more regularly. One can see why our wise elders might say, “Don’t get old.” At the same time, there is a deeper wisdom our elders offer when we get past the physical diminishment associated with aging. We encounter a faith that is not so shaken by daily distur-bances, a trust that Jesus will be true to his promise to be with us al-ways, an understanding that our personal value is more who we are than what we do.
As we honor our elder confreres, I would like to invite our communi-ties and collaborators to consider supporting the Salesian Senior Care Fund. Contributions to this fund better secure the increased care our elders need as they age. I’m guessing that, when we became Salesians,none of us was concerned with how we would cover living ex-penses when we are not in active ministry. This was far from our mind; we were on fire with a de-sire for serving the young and the poor. At the same time, the num-ber of younger Salesians outnum-bered those who were in need of assisted living or skilled care. We trusted that, after a lifetime of dedicated service, others would continue the ministries and works in which we had been involved,while we shared in the mission in new ways, especially through prayer.
With foresight and good stewardship, the Salesian Senior Care Fund, managed by the St. Philip the Apostle Foundation, was set up 18 years ago to see that our elder confreres could transition out of active ministry to receive care at an assisted living facility of our own Annual distributions from the Senior Care Fund provide subsidy approximately 76% of the annual subsidy which the province pays for the operation of the St. Philip the Apostle Residence in Tampa.The remaining 24% comes from other sources of funding. The local SDB communities are billed $400 per confrere. This covers 11% of the subsidy. The remaining 13% of the subsidy comes out of the province operating budget. In other words, there is a significant deficit each year for the operation of the St.Philip the Apostle Residence.
Some SDBs receive a pension contribution from the place where they work. That money is invested into the Salesian Senior Care Fund of the Foundation. There is a problem with this plan, however. The annual interest and gains of the Salesian Senior Care Fund are offset by the distribution, so the fund is not growing. This is partly because there are fewer Salesians paying into the fund than there were 18 years ago.
What a blessing it would be if the Salesian Senior Care Fund could provide 100% of the subsidy. To do that,it would need another $4.1 million. Over the next few months, we will be including in E-Service the information on how to support the Salesian Senior Care Fund.
If you have any questions at all, please contact Fr. Dennis Donovan, the province treasurer. If we can in-crease the fund, the care of our elder Salesians will be secured; at the same time, the mission to which they dedicated their lives would also advance, since the operating budget of the province could be fully engaged for the mission.
During the summer editions of E-Service , I hope you enjoy getting to know our elder confreres a bit more. The province has been blessed by their years of service; we continue to benefit from their wisdom, example, and prayers. We can show gratitude especially by imitating their perseverance with joy, by our own generous response to the particular vocation we have received from God. In a more personal way, we can show support and care for our elder confreres by visits, phone calls, and cards. Relying upon their prayers, we pledge ourselves to pray for them.
May God bless our Salesian Family with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit so we may experience a new Pentecost.