St. John Vianney Residence for Priest nears reality
June 25, 2012
On Friday, June 22, Bishop Wm. Michael Mulvey, joined by scores of his brother priests, blessed the site for the new $5.5 million St. John Vianney Residence for Priests that will be built at the corner of Kostoryz and Saratoga in Corpus Christi. The facility will provide housing for as many as 20 retired priests through nine duplex units, a community center and an assisted living unit.
The project is a response to a need expressed by priests, and was first initiated 14 years ago under Bishop Roberto Gonzalez, OFM. Msgr. Thomas McGettrick, the Vicar for Retired Priests for the Diocese of Corpus Christi, said a committee appointed by Bishop Gonzalez made a couple of trips to San Antonio to study a priests’ residence built in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
In addition to the San Antonio experience, Bishop Mulvey also provided feedback on his experiences with the John Paul II Residence for Priests in the Diocese of Austin. Bishop Mulvey said he lived at the home or two months and saw first-hand the fulfillment of the Gospel message to serve one another. The bishop recounted how priests at the residence would go knock on someone’s door to check up on them if they missed Mass or breakfast.
Msgr. McGettrick credited Bishop Mulvey for being the driving force to get the project done. “If it wasn’t for Bishop Mulvey we would not be meeting here this morning,” Msgr. McGettrick said. “His input made the project even better.”
The diocese will accept bids for construction this week and expects the home to be ready for its first residents in about a year.
A growing number of priests in the Diocese of Corpus Christi are beginning to reach the retirement age of 70. Most retired priests continue to work in some capacity long after the official retirement.
Currently there are 20 priests in retirement. Between 2011 and 2020, 12 more priests will reach retirement age and 27 more will reach retirement age between 2021 and 2030.
Funding for the project will come from the Legacy of Faith ~ Future of Hope, a capital campaign underway in the diocese. The Legacy of Faith ~ Future of Hope will fund a number of needed projects in the diocese.
In addition to the $5.5 million being raised for the buildings, another $1.5 million will be raised for a Residence Operations Endowment. These funds will be placed and invested to generate income on an ongoing basis. The original investment, or principal, will remain untouched, with only the income earned each year allocated to address the stated needs.
Another $2 million will also be raised to contribute to the Priest Pension Plan. After a lifetime of service, priests need assistance to ensure they have a dignified retirement that supports their modest daily needs and provides adequate healthcare.
“Priests spend all of their time doing for others,” Msgr. McGettrick said. “We will now do something for them.”
After Bishop Mulvey blessed the grounds for the new facility, dignitaries joined him for the ceremonial “groundbreaking.” Among those manning shovels for the occasion were Msgr. Louis Kihneman, Vicar General; Msgr. McGettrick; Msgr. Seamus McGowan; Msgr. Richard Shirley, Vicar of Ecumenical Affairs; Msgr. William Murray, pastor of Saint Anthony Parish in Violet; Father Emilio Jimenez, Vicar for Priests; Father Peter Martinez, Chairman of the Presbyteral Council; Father Hanh Van Pham, pastor of Saint Philip the Apostle Parish; retired Army Lt. Gen. Marc A. Cisneros with the John G and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation; Gus Barrera, first vice-president of International Bank of Commerce-Corpus Christi; Gordon Landreth, senior architect for CLK Architects & Associates; and Greg Seagraves, fiscal officer for the Diocese of Corpus Christi.