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Where are they now? Diocesan faithful and clergy reflect on life after retirement

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Fr. Wilson I. Korpi

Diocesan pastor, retired June 2020

Favorite part of retired life? I've been to new parishes that I’ve never visited before and I’m meeting people that I have never had a chance to be with. My life now consists not so much of administrative duties as doing the duties that we priests love to do: celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, doing baptisms and marriages, doing these things almost exclusively and not worrying about … all of the things that you have to do to run the business side of pastorate.

Something new you’ve done since retirement? One of the things I did this past year, which was very exciting for me, was to visit the theater ministry. I was invited to come out to celebrate Mass for about six parishes that were doing an outdoor show. All that energy for me was exhilarating.

Continued involvement in the diocese? It's just a wonderful thing to be able to go and to be responsive to people who are in need. I try not to be a pastor to people, I try to be a person who helps the pastors do their job a little bit better.  

Art Bennett

President of diocesan Catholic Charities, retired December 2020

Favorite part of retired life? I’ve never been great at work-life balance, so I am grateful that this new stage gives me more time with Laraine, as well as our four married kids and their families including our five, soon to be seven, grandkids.

Something you took from working with the diocese? Before I worked with Catholic Charities at the diocese I used to think that the church should be run as a business, but I now see the church as the mystical body of Christ and the business side should serve that mystery under the leadership of Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, our apostolic successor. … I can see clearly now that working with and for the church was the most rewarding professional experience in my life. It’s noble and gratifying work with great opportunities to serve and to establish strong bonds.

Something you have been able to do since you retired? I’ve been able to go back into marriage and family counseling which was something I couldn’t figure out how to do while working with Catholic Charities. I am also on a couple of boards which I find very satisfying. There is more time to pray, to read fat books and to reflect on things. 

Monsignor John Cregan

Diocesan pastor, retired June 2015

Continued involvement in the diocese? Up until the pandemic, I had been going regularly to Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., to do spiritual direction for the seminary. Since the pandemic hit, I've been doing that on Zoom, and then I do other spiritual direction down here, with different people, with religious, priests and some lay people.

Favorite part of retired life? I help at a lot of different parishes. I've given little one-day and weekend retreats for different groups and whenever I get calls. I like to see what's going on throughout the diocese. 

Blessings since retirement? One thing you have to do is to stay active. You can't just retire and come to a stop. That, to me, is very unhealthy. You have to stay involved in ministry. But one of the fruits when you get away from the administration is you get much more time for prayer and reflection and spiritual reading, so it's a blessing. It's worked out the way I planned.  

Cecilia Balog

Owner of Paschal Lamb Catholic Shop, retired May 2021

Favorite part of retired life? I have rediscovered the joy of playing the piano and it is wonderful to have the leisure time to sit down and play for an hour or more whenever I wish!

Biggest blessings since retirement? There were many uncertain moments in the past year as I faced the prospect of giving up The Paschal Lamb which had been such a blessing in my life for 33 years. But I have felt the constant presence of the Lord through this time of transition and I am eager to find and follow his will for me in the days ahead. In the meantime, my husband Bob and I have already taken several trips to see family and friends, confirming how much we still enjoy spending time together after 53 years of marriage!

Continued involvement in the church? I now have the opportunity of attending daily Mass at St. John Neumann in Reston. I enjoy being able to listen to the "Bible in a Year" podcast offered by Ascension Press and have also become a member of the Word on Fire Institute founded by Bishop Robert Barron. 

Michael Flach

Executive editor of the Catholic Herald, retired February 2020

Favorite part of retired life? I'm able to spend more time with my two grandchildren and also visit my mother in Philadelphia on a more regular basis.

Something new you’ve done since retirement? I joined a weekly golf league in April, so I get a chance to play more frequently than I did while I was working full time. I've also been able to exercise on a daily basis.

Best part of working with the diocese? I really enjoyed working with the staff at the Catholic Herald. They were a group of talented Catholic journalists who loved their faith.  

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021