Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When and why was The Shepherds’ Trust created?
A. The Shepherds’ Trust was established in August 1996 to formalize the provision of retirement benefits to diocesan priests of the Archdiocese of Toronto.
Q. Was there a pension plan prior to The Shepherds’ Trust?
A. There was an informal program in place that provided a modest payment of benefits for all retired priests. However, it did not adequately meet their needs nor did it allow for parishioners to show gratitude through a sacrificial gift to this noble cause of caring for those who cared for us. As the number of retired priests increases in coming years, it is necessary to have adequate funding to provide retirement benefits to our current and future retiring priests.
Q. The Catholic Church is rich. Why do we need to raise money in parishes for retired priests?
A. The majority of assets held by the Archdiocese of Toronto are in real estate - “bricks and mortar.”
These assets do not translate into the type of immediate cash funding required to provide for retired priests. In order to adequately meet their needs, it is necessary to raise funds specifically for this cause.
Q. Will there always be a need for an annual collection for The Shepherds’ Trust?
A. The current asset base of the Shepherds’ Trust has grown from the initial $9 million archdiocesan contribution to $51 million. This growth came from the generosity of parishioners and their concern for the welfare of our priests which was combined with prudent investing.
While this may seem like a significant amount of money, our most recent actuarial study completed as of July 1, 2015 (we complete a study every 3 years) indicates that for the Trust to be fully funded to provide retirement benefits to both existing and future retired priests requires an additional $5.8 million.
The current shortfall as at December 31, 2015 is about $5.5 million.
We continue to rely on the generosity of the faithful each year through an annual collection, which ensures we can maintain the retirement benefits retired priests are currently receiving from The Shepherds’ Trust.
Q. Who manages the money raised to date for The Shepherds’ Trust?
A. Funds are invested in a balanced master trust that places the funds with professional investment managers in both fixed income and equity asset classes. The Shepherds’ Trust Board of Trustees meets quarterly to review matters surrounding the Trust, including an evaluation of its investment performance.
Q. Are there other ways The Shepherds’ Trust receives funds?
A. Our retired priests are also blessed by the generosity of those who remember The Shepherds’ Trust in their will. A bequest is a specific provision in your will, directing various estate assets to be given to The Shepherds’ Trust.
Q. Do all priests, even those who are financially independent, receive retirement benefits from The Shepherds’ Trust?
A. Yes, in the same manner that any retirement fund recognizes all members regardless of their financial status, the Shepherds’ Trust recognizes the pastoral contribution of all our priests.
Q. Do Religious Order priests receive retirement benefits from The Shepherds’ Trust?
No, the religious order priests benefit from the health and retirement care plans of their religious communities, although some have been covered for health benefits by the archdiocesan plan. For each religious order priest directly assigned to a parish, their order receives the same assessment amount that is allocated for a diocesan priest They also share in the portion of The Shepherds Trust Appeal raised at those parishes ministered to by the religious orders.