Comfort, community for retired priests

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Priests, religious and Catholics from around the diocese attended the dedication ceremony for the St. Rose of Lima Priests' Retirement Villa in Annandale last week.

The 15,000 square-foot building consists of eight apartments that include bedrooms, living rooms, kitchenettes and storage rooms. The building also has a gym, guest suite, kitchen, parlor, community room, dining room and chapel.

According to John A. Whitman, an architect on the team that worked on the retirement villa, the building was designed to be peaceful, dignified and masculine, while also completely wheelchair accessible. Another phase of the construction is planned for coming years, which will consist of building rooms for 12 more priests.

Money for the retirement villa was raised through the Rooted in Faith - Forward in Hope capital campaign.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde said he was "deeply grateful" to the major benefactors for the villa, as well as the donors to the capital campaign.

"My heart is full of such gratitude for my fellow priests who will come here and live comfortably," said Bishop Loverde. "May we support one another as we continue this pilgrimage because all through life we are our brothers' keepers."

The villa is named for St. Rose of Lima, who dedicated much of her life to caring for the poor and the infirm.

"She, along with the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph will take good care of our brothers here," Bishop Loverde said.

All priests in the Arlington Diocese are committed to a life of service that lasts until retirement at age 75, or earlier in the case of a serious illness. When they retire or become sick, priests can choose to live on their own at a private residence or at a parish rectory with space available. This new retirement villa serves as a third option for priests.

The diocese has 14 retired priests. An additional 21 are expected to retire in the next 10 years, according to the dedication program. It is expected that retired priests will be able to move into the new villa next month.

Bishop Loverde said he feels a particular concern for the priests, his "closest co-workers," and that he hopes the new retirement villa will give them "a place where they can live securely and comfortably, where they can be with each other and with Our Lord."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2010