SAN BERNARDINO—With a stroke of the pen on June 27, Bishop Gerald Barnes made official a new Priest Pension Fund that is intended to provide a measure of financial security for diocesan priests in their retirement.
Under the new fund, diocesan priests are eligible to receive the full benefit pension at the retirement age of 65, if they have given 25 years of active ministry. They can receive a partial benefit at age 65 if they have served less than 25 years, based on their number of years in active ministry. Priests pay into the pension fund on a monthly basis and a parish assessment also provides income for the fund.
“We have, we believe, enough to cover the needs of the guys for the foreseeable future,” said Father Steve Porter, who has led a group of diocesan priests in the development of the fund over the past year.
Father Rogelio Gonzalez and Father Jerry Ochetti have worked with Fr. Porter, consulting with financial and legal experts to create the Diocesan Priests Pension Fund. Fr. Porter has made presentations this year to the Presybteral Council, Bishop Barnes’ top clergy advisory group, and to diocesan priests about the elements of the new fund. Mailings detailing the fund were also sent out.
Until now, diocesan priests had been part of a joint priest pension fund with the Diocese of San Diego.
“The priests were very supportive,” said Fr. Ochetti. “They were happy to see the changes.”
Fr. Porter, Fr. Ochetti and Fr. Gonzalez will be on a newly created Diocesan Priest Pension Fund Board, four more diocesan priests will be chosen to fill out the board this year.
In addition to the Pension Fund, the Diocese also provides resources to retired diocesan priests through the annual Father’s Day Collection.