It’s time to extend the ministry to retired priests and additional services to the laity

Plans for a major renovation of the Carter-May Home started to take shape back in 1992, but cost concerns and the rapid changes in the long-term care market had the project on hold for almost 10 years.

The first significant renovation, the replacement of the heating and air conditioning system was completed in March 2001. During this time, the need and desire for a Catholic facility to care for our retired priests in need of supportive services grew into the vision of the St. Joseph Residence.

The St. Joseph Residence project, under the guidance and support of Bishop Robert J. Baker, includes the construction of a new wing consisting of six suites for retired priests, a major renovation to the existing Carter-May Home, including the construction of a new kitchen and the addition of private bathrooms, as well as construction of a new wing for lay men and women.

Once completed, the new facility will accommodate 24 residents. Our hope is that people will realize that this is a mission, not just a project. The vision for the St. Joseph Residence goes beyond mere bricks and mortar. It is a vision that provides a dignified retirement for the priests who have faithfully served this diocese for many years.

Thanks to the sacrament of holy orders, priests never cease to be priests. It is important to stay connected to the church and continue some form of ministry. We view retirement as a new kind of vocation. One that includes continued spiritual growth.

When I began to visit with our retired priests, I became firmly convinced of the serious need for such a facility. The average age of a retired diocesan priest is 79, and many could benefit from the care and services that will be available at the St. Joseph Residence.

We are all very committed to our mission — a mission that highlights our Roman Catholic identity, calls for affordable, high-quality care in a homelike atmosphere; encourages maximum independence; and emphasizes community, wellness and spiritual growth. Our goal is to create a harmonious, stimulating, supportive and secure environment with programs that foster dignity and individuality.

We have a history of service at the Carter-May Home of which we can be proud. The intimate, homelike atmosphere sometimes reminds me of a dorm full of women who, regardless of background, really look out for each other. The home also fosters close relationships between residents and staff.

Much of the credit for the warm atmosphere at Carter-May goes to Janine Bauder, administrator of the home, who has been with us for seven years. Her patience and genuine respect for residents and staff alike make the high-quality care natural.

It is time to extend our ministry to include our retired priests and expand services to additional laity. The St. Joseph Residence for retired priests and the expanded Carter-May Home will help us do just that.

The groundbreaking held Feb. 24 generated a lot of excitement. The dream is finally becoming a reality. There is much yet to be done, and we still have not met our financial goals so we ask for your continued support through prayers and donations.

Dorothy Grillo is the director of the Office of Catholic Charities.