Christ in the Retirement Years
by Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D.
Two trends have swelled the ranks of retired folks in our parishes. 1) We're retiring earlier, the average first retirement age hovers around 57 years old, and 2) we're living longer, medical advances and education continue to push longevity. These trends are projected to continue, and they raise new questions. What is the role of the Church in the life of retirees? What is the role of retirees in the life of the Church?
Retirement is changing! Once thought of as a time for rest and play, retirement is now seen as a time of personal reinvestment, of redirecting energies, and reconfiguring new life goals. The "old retirement" mentality leads some retirees into a sense of purposelessness, self-absorption, and a cantankerous attitude. The "new retirement" mentality draws retirees into a sense of personal purpose, God-reliance, and adopting the role of mentor or sage.
Yet some retirees, perhaps many, will never reap the benefits of this "new retirement" because they are not spiritually prepared. Retirees have special developmental needs, of socialization, connection, interiority, and psychological integrity. All of these needs have a spiritual thread, a continuing faith formation dimension that has the power to transform retirement from a time of diminishment into a thriving new adventure.
This new retirement attitude holds up a light to a new path. This light is the same light that has illuminated our lives all along...the light of Christ. How do we as Church capture the transforming power of this light in retirement? In future articles we'll be investigating practical ways of doing just that, but for now you can find out more by logging onto http://www.senioradultministry.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=COURSE103 where you'll find resources to help.
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