Fr. Peter Rosettis' estate plan underlined his love of the Churhc Register file photo

Shepherds’ Trust ensures priests who cared for you will be cared for as well

By  Quentin Schesnuik, Catholic Register Special
  • November 5, 2016

Before the death of Fr. Peter Rosettis in 2003, he drafted an estate plan to ensure three things happened after his funeral.

The first came in the form of an old typed note done on a manual typewriter that read: “I wish the place of my burial to be the Priests’ Plot of St. Augustine’s Seminary.”

The second was his wish for a sum of money to be given to the Basilian Fathers so they could offer Masses for the repose of his soul.

The third request was that the remainder of his estate go to The Shepherds’ Trust, the Archdiocese of Toronto initiative that ensures proper support for retired priests.

Fr. Rosettis’ estate plan underlined his love of the Church. This is evidenced by his desire to be buried with his brother priests in the grounds of the seminary that formed his priestly ministry, and by his decision to gift his worldly possessions to help provide for aged priests in the final years of their life.

When his estate was wound up,  Fr. Rosettis’ personnel files were sent to the Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto​​​ for safe storage. Everyone assumed the file was closed.

But everyone was wrong.

In 2015 a letter arrived addressed to Fr. Peter Rosettis with a heading that so desperately sought to grab the reader’s attention it seemed to be a hoax. The letter read, “DON’T DELAY! Immediate Action Required to Claim Your Cash Due of $69,960.00!”

According to the letter, records indicated that Fr. Rosettis owned some stocks in the United States that were being acquired by a third party and all the shareholders were being bought out. It turned out that the late priest was indeed eligible to receive a windfall, one-time buyout of US $69,960.

Over the next six months the managers of the estate jumped through numerous hoops to retrieve the funds. A collective cheer was raised when the cheque was finally received.

The beneficiaries of Fr. Rosettis’ kindness are retired priests who have benefited from the Shepherds’ Trust since it was established by lay leaders under Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic in 1996. For the past 20 years, money dispensed by the Trust has ensured that retired priests receive the dignity of an adequate monthly allowance, health care and other assistance in their golden years, which often extends well beyond the recognized retirement age of 75.

The Shepherds’ Trust exists to give the laity a means to, as the motto states, “care for those who have cared for us.” After years of dedication to parishes and other ministries, priests rely on those they have served to help provide for their practical needs in retirement. Many retired priests remain active in pastoral work for as long as their health permits, and all priests require comfortable accommodations and other day-to-day necessities.

The special collection for The Shepherds’ Trust will be held in archdiocese parishes on Nov. 12-13.

(Schesnuik is manager of planned giving and personal gifts with the Archdiocese of Toronto.)

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