Catholic Standard El Pregonero
Classifieds Buy Photos

Collection supports retired priests as they continue serving however they can

Msgr. Michael Wilson, seen in a 2016 photo, retired in 2019. In his retirement, he serves as the administrator of St. Andrew Apostle Parish in Silver Spring, Maryland. Msgr. Wilson has served as a priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington since his ordination in 1975. Over the years, he served as the pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Solomons, St. Mary of the Mills Parish in Laurel, St. Raphael Parish in Rockville and Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Lexington Park. (CS file photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Although he officially retired two years ago, Msgr. Michael Wilson, a priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington for more than 45 years, remains busy as administrator of St. Andrew Apostle Parish in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“For the priest, even if we are retired, we are always available to serve the Church,” he said. “Many, many, many priests are retired and still helping out and covering for other priests.”

In leading St. Andrew’s Parish, Msgr. Wilson succeeded Father Ismael (Mel) Ayala, the former pastor there who last July was named the new director of liturgy for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Filling in for priests and helping out in a parish in need is something Msgr. Wilson not only expected – he said he knew that he would be called upon to assist when needed – but something he enjoys.

“We were ordained not for retirement, but for service and to celebrate the sacraments,” he said. “I welcome the opportunity to be with the people of the parish. I am so happy to be here. I love parish life and the vitality of it.”

Msgr. Wilson said this type of ministry is “how we are living our age.”

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington holds an annual Retired Priests Collection to provide care and housing for retired priests of the archdiocese.

The 2021 Retired Priests Collection for the Archdiocese of Washington, which will be taken up at parishes on the weekend of Nov. 13-14, “helps make us free to abandon ourselves to the service of the people in the parishes,” Msgr. Wilson said.

Father David Russell, a retired priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, celebrated his 40th anniversary this year. Over the years he served as pastor of St. Anthony Parish in North Beach, Maryland, and Holy Name Parish in Washington.(Archdiocese photo)

Father David Russell, who recently marked the 40th anniversary of his ordination, is also a retired priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. Like Msgr. Wilson, in his retirement, Father Russell has assisted priests in nearby parishes in both the Archdiocese of Washington and the Archdiocese of Baltimore. However, due to health reasons, his help in local parishes has greatly decreased, but he continues to hear Confessions and participate in penance services when he is able to do so.

“I hear what they (the faithful) have done when they think they have done their worst,” he said. “But I have also seen their joy. People seem to be happiest when they reach outside themselves to help other people, when they recognize and realize how much God loves them and gives them a certain freedom to reach out to others – that’s when they seem their happiest.”

“Because of health problems, I cannot help at parishes the way I want to and used to,” he said. “Since I am not able to live in a rectory or help out at a parish, this collection very important.”

He said that the generosity shown by the faithful of the archdiocese “helps guys like me live a peaceful, simple existence.” He added that it heartens him to think that after decades of service to the faithful, they show their gratitude in return. 

There are various ways to support the Retired Priests Collection:

• Donating online at:

• Texting the word “Priest” to 301-231-1816. A link will be sent back to you within one minute to complete your gift.

• Mailing checks payable to “Retired Priests Collection” to Office of Development, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, P.O. Box 29260, Washington, DC 20017-0260.

• Donating in-pew using the envelopes that will be provided in the pews at Mass.

• Transferring money from an IRA account.

• Gifting stocks and/or bonds.

To those who give to the annual collection for retired priests, Msgr. Wilson said, “I thank you. Your generosity allows us to provide not only for the priests who are serving us now, but those who are retired.”

“We (priests) don’t make a lot of money, so we depend on the generosity of others for the safety net below us. Most of us can’t afford to do it on our own,” he said. “I am grateful for all the people who allow us the freedom to continue to minister as a priest.”

For more information on the Retired Priests Collection, visit