Msgr. Vincent Foy, along with benefitting from The Shepherd’s Trust, gave back to the fund that helps priests in retirement. Register file photo

Msgr. Foy never forgot his fellow priests

  • November 6, 2017
“Caring for those who always cared for us.”

That is the motto of The Shepherd’s Trust, a charitable organization that provides retired Archdiocese of Toronto priests with an allowance, housing and health benefits. 

Msgr. Vincent Foy, who died in March of this year at 101, understood the motto well. He benefited from the kindness of Shepherd’s Trust donors during many years of his retirement. So it was a surprise to no one when he left a $15,000 bequest to the Shepherd’s Trust in his Will.

“We often receive bequests from priests to provide for their fellow priests during their retirement,” said Michele George, Vice-Chair and Trustee for The Shepherd’s Trust. 

The Shepherd’s Trust was started by church laypersons and then-Bishop Aloysius Ambrozic in 1996 to provide retired priests with an allowance to live their retirement years with dignity. The organization is run by a board of trustees made up of priests and laypersons and mainly relies on donations and bequests to ensure retired priests receive comfortable retirements.

Last year the Trust spent $3.05 million to support retired priests, with the funds coming from parish collections and assessments, as well as bequests and donations.

“Without this organization, many of our retired priests would be living below the poverty line,” said George.

The average retirement age for priests in Ontario is 75. That is more than a decade older than the provincial average, which is 63. But priesthood is more than a job, said George.

“It’s not a career, it’s a ministry,” said George, who notes that many priests work past 75. 

“They receive a calling to priesthood at some point in their lives, usually when they are quite young, and they dedicate themselves to God and this ministry for life. Priests continue to provide ministry as long as they are healthy and able.” 

Msgr. Foy retired from parish ministry in 1979 at age 63 but continued his ministry in support of social justice issues, particularly pro-life causes, until his death. He served for 78 years, making him the oldest and longest-serving priest in the history of the Archdiocese of Toronto. He is the second longest serving diocesan priest in Canada. Fr. Roger Duval of Quebec City served 78.5 years. 

“Msgr. Foy inspired us through his fidelity and personal witness, serving the Lord and all those he encountered most generously,” Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins said in March 2017. 

“As a prayerful shepherd, champion of life issues and witness of loving service to others, may his legacy live on for years to come.” 

Msgr. Foy’s legacy will live on through his donation, which will support priests financially once they retire. 

“Our scope of responsibility is providing support for all retired priests free of bias,” said George. “Msgr. Foy’s donation will go into the Trust’s general investment fund to provide that allowance and housing for as many priests as possible.”

Whether it is a donation or a bequest, every donation helps.

“We always need additional funding,” said George. “Our priests are there for us all our lives, our baptisms, weddings and funerals. They are there for us when we need it most. 

“To provide for them in their retirement to ensure they can live with dignity in those years is a wonderful way to give back.”

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