The Leveson Centre for the study of Ageing, Spirituality and Social Policy
Retirement and its planning
A reflection on his recent retirement from the Revd Stuart Good who emigrated to Western Australia in 1966. After serving as Rector of several parishes he became Director Chaplaincy Services of Anglican Homes (residential aged care) in 1985 until his retirement in 2005.
Retirement is a daunting prospect for a member of a very committed vocation such as the priesthood, especially for one who has been in ministry for well over forty years. However carefully one prepares for retirement, once one has had the benefit of a short break and has completed the tasks involved in rearranging the house and finances and handing over to a successor, one is still affected in surprising ways by the enormous change of pace. It is not easy to adjust to a situation where one is no longer under constant pressure and having to give much attention to detail.
In Australia the state aged pension is means tested and private superannuation is compulsory. It is essential, therefore, in planning for retirement to consult an accredited financial adviser. He suggested that prior to applying for the aged pension and to maximize our entitlement it would be advantageous to dispose of some capital by, for example, making home improvements, updating the car and prepaying a holiday and funeral costs for oneself and one's spouse. He also recommended that we update our wills which were first drafted many years ago and arrange enduring powers of attorney. We already owned the house in which we live and therefore did not have to relocate from a parsonage or purchase a home, obviating one of the major costly upheavals of retirement.
An active retirement
I was given various pieces of advice from retired clergy, none of it very helpful for everyone is different. One recommended not taking on any priestly duties for twelve months. I wanted to remain active once I'd had a few weeks' break to sort out my affairs and a short family holiday. As a musical person I responded very keenly to the invitation of the Dean of our Cathedral in Perth to become an Associate Priest and to assist at Sung Eucharist on Sundays and to preside at weekly services when required. One of the things I missed as an aged care chaplain over the past twenty years was the choral services I had enjoyed as a parish priest, so honorary duties at the cathedral appealed to me rather than undertaking Sunday and locum duties in various parishes on a stipendiary basis.
I was happy to be permitted to continue on as chaplain to two hostels (care homes) for people with dementia in an honorary basis, three mornings per fortnight. Since being liberated from the administrative tasks as Director Chaplaincy Services of Anglican Homes which has residential and day care centres in 25 locations, I have found that I really can concentrate on the pastoral duties of chaplaincy including staff and resident contact plus conducting services and singalongs, a refreshing change. Having been employed by them for twenty years and generously farewelled I am delighted now to be able to give something back.
The professional duties I have happily agreed to take on for the time being allow plenty of time for wife and family (including helping with five grandchildren especially with their musical development - one grandchild is disabled), socialising, walking, swimming, gardening, reading, photography, listening to CDs and practising musical instruments. (Sorry there is no reference in my case to competitive sport!) A chaplain's spouse makes many sacrifices and endures much solitude over the years and being able to do more things together in retirement can be greatly valued. It is still desirable, however, to pursue some independent activities.
I believe I have embarked on an active retirement which will prove mentally stimulating, spiritually refreshing, physically healthy and socially fulfilling. It's definitely a learning experience and I shall need to take stock from time to time. Good luck to others starting on the same journey.
The Leveson Centre