They are retired — but not from being of service to the people of God.Many of the 80 retired priests attending a May 6 luncheon in their honor at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels continue to do pastoral ministry wherever they live.“I highly recommend retirement,” said Msgr. Carl Bell, pastor emeritus of St. Cyril of Jerusalem in Encino who helps out as needed at Holy Family Church in Seal Beach, where he resides at Leisure World. He also celebrates monthly Mass at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey and assists as needed at parishes in Long Beach and St. Pancratius in Lakewood.“For two years now [since retiring], I’ve been free of administration. Other people run the place, and we retirees just bring sacramental grace,” noted the monsignor, adding that he was heading up to St. Cyril’s after the luncheon to give Father Larry Neumeier, administrator, a few days off.Msgr. Juan Matas noted that he was retired, but not inactive. Coming up on his third year in retirement this July, he directs Cursillos de Cristiandad for Spanish speakers and celebrates Mass “whenever they need me” at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Montebello, where he served as pastor for 15 years. “I have the opportunity to exercise the priesthood in its fullness: to hear confessions, to preach the Word of God and to be with people who are searching for God,” said Msgr. Matas.“One never retires from pastoral work [just] administrative work,” said Father Gilbert Romero, the former archdiocesan ecumenical and interfaith officer who helps out at parishes saying Mass on weekends. The holder of a doctorate in Scripture, Father Romero will present a paper at the Catholic Biblical Association’s conference at Gonzaga University in Spokane in early August. “I don’t have to listen to doorbells or people calling me up — I can just sit down and do my research,” said Father Romero, a stroke survivor and Tai Chi practitioner who is a strong proponent of daily exercise for health. “I have more time now, and I try to be available,” said Father George Brincat, former pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Tujunga now living at James the Less in La Crescenta, a twinned parish with Holy Redeemer in Montrose. Last Sunday, he celebrated Masses at each parish.“I will retire only when I cannot move,” laughed Father Brincat. His tongue-in-cheek advice to priests is “not to get old,” but, regardless, to “continue to minister.” “My retirement is perfect,” described Father Fernando Iglesias, pastor emeritus of St. Mariana de Paredes Church in Pico Rivera. He celebrates Mass on weekends as needed at Sacred Heart Church in Pomona and also helps out at a church in the San Bernardino Diocese, near where he resides. “I read a lot. I get up early in the morning, I walk, and I enjoy life my way,” said Father Iglesias.Father Will Connor, pastor emeritus of St. Joseph Church in Long Beach, is enjoying his retirement by keeping busy with many activities he participated in before retirement. “I’m very involved in economic and social justice issues in Long Beach,” including CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice), noted Father Connor. He is on his third term with the South Coast Interfaith board, attends a contemplative prayer group on Tuesday nights at St. Joseph and helps out with Masses at St. Pancratius in Lakewood.“I don’t want to be fully retired — never!” he exclaimed. Though wheelchair-bound, Msgr. Alfred Hernandez keeps active at the Hollenbeck Palms convalescent home in Boyle Heights, where he lives in retirement. Pastor for 18 years at St. Ignatius of Loyola in Highland Park before retiring in 1997, he says his non-sectarian rest home is like having a little parish. When he arrived, he was invited by the staff to hold a Sunday Mass, currently attended by about 40 residents each week.“You’re retired but not from priestly work,” said Msgr. Hernandez, holding one of the handmade rosaries made by his former parishioners, which he hands out to people. “You have to perform your ministry. I meet a lot of people who are not practicing, and it’s an occasion to bring them back to the Church.”Attending the priests’ luncheon from his southwestern Sierra Nevada foothills home of Springville, where he runs a parish mission station, Msgr. Ronald Royer said he also keeps busy helping out at neighboring parishes and serving as chaplain for the Tule River Indian Reservation.“We retire from administration, but we do help out where we can,” noted the astronomer-priest, who has an observatory where he holds “star parties” for neighbors and schoolchildren. “I sometimes help out more than I want to, but I do anyway,” laughed Msgr. Royer.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0510/retired/{/gallery}