Perspective: Embrace new ‘jobs’ in retirement


FAMILY TIME: After retiring, Father “Chuck” Fuld has more time to spend with his three children, left to right, Linda, Michael and Terri. (Credit: Courtesy Father "Chuck" Fuld)

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By Father Charles “Chuck” Fuld

Sounds simple enough: “I’m going to retire in a few months (or years) and this is what it will be like …”  And, lo and behold,  when that time comes you find that life has changed, or what you are retiring from is just a small part of the big picture you then face.

As a widower priest (with three grown children), I retired from editing The Southern Cross newspaper some three years ago. The hail and farewell was a big event with our then Bishop Robert W. McElroy, brother priests, staff and family members gathered.

I certainly didn’t consider it a “shutdown” for me, but I could not have imagined what my life would really be like.

My retirement has been more like the “roll-over” we experience over and over again in life: I became a parent, then a grandparent, then a great-grandparent. Each of those milestones came with its own “job description,” if you will, which I naturally rolled into.

I worked at a certain job, and now find myself helping out in all kinds of ways I could hardly squeeze in before.

Now, I celebrate Mass regularly at a nearby church, trying my best to fill special needs as they arise. This church (St. Gabriel in Poway) has a ministry called Coping with Cancer to which I have committed myself. I now find myself more involved with the Knights of Columbus. Also, because of my passion for writing, I have taken on what you might call a “ministry of letter-writing,  sending cards and notes to a long list of parishioners, brother priests and friends, some of whom had felt disconnected.

Like me, retirees can help out in their church in ways that they could not when they were working full time: They can become part of the liturgy as an usher, a reader, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, or even a sacristan.  And some of you guys might even decide to become a deacon – or become another “widower priest.”

Sure, you can retire from everything, I suppose, but that’s not what God made us to do. And what would that amount to: eating and sleeping and going in circles all day?

As we closed this Easter season with the Sundays of Pentecost, Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi, we saw the important role each of us needs to take to meet the challenges God has set in front of  us.

My advice to retirees or those planning to retire soon: Take a holiday or two upon leaving your job, but there’s a lot more that you can do to fulfill that Commandment Jesus gave us: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Maybe it’s more a matter of resetting  your retirement expectations. That’s what I learned to do, and I’m having a heck of time keeping up with mine! I love my new life and the warm response I get from my family and all the folks around me.

Father Charles “Chuck” Fuld is editor emeritus of The Southern Cross newspaper.

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