Facing the challenges of retirement


To write this column, I pulled out a decorative mug from my shelf with the words “National Tube Division USS, Lorain Works” for inspiration.

With my retirement from full-time pastoral ministry just days away, I can’t help but think of when my father retired after 42 years at US Steel. Dad loved his job, the people he worked with, and he was very good at it. And he maintained his relationships with his business contacts, colleagues and friends.

But when he was done with it, he was done with it and stuck to his plans to spend more time with mom and my sister and me and our families. My parents made new friends packing up their Buick Station Wagon and visiting the churches I served, from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania to Ohio.

They did loads of day trips and especially enjoyed “bird watching”, being members of the Audubon Society. One of their favorite spots was Crane Creek State Park near Oak Harbor, Ohio.

As I’ve heard many other retirees say, Dad has remained as busy or busier as he was before. And he kept himself in top shape by cutting the grass, working with mom in her flower gardens, riding his bike, walking on a treadmill and playing golf.

Until my father’s health began to decline, these were the happiest years of his life. Through it all, he continued to grow and live in his Catholic faith. Like his father, his brothers and sisters, he attends mass or watches it on television. Her rosary was always close at hand. As always, he spent a lot of time in prayer, contemplation and helping others.

Whenever I feel the least bit uncertain and insecure about this transitional time, I just think of the big smile on Dad’s face when we unloaded some lumber to build a playset for my kids. I can almost hear his voice saying the same thing he said when we paused to wipe the sweat from our eyebrows.

“Enjoy your life, son. Do what you love most and work to be good at it, for the glory of God and for the good of those you love.

In a nutshell, that’s exactly what I plan to do in my retirement, whether it’s serving a part-time church, giving and receiving spiritual guidance, writing columns (and reporting on football games), bonding with colleagues and friends, making new friends, or packing my Toyota Corolla for day trips and for Vermont where my kids live.

Just writing about it already makes me feel as busy or busier as I’ve ever been. And if I ever need inspiration to do any of these things, I’ll grab one of my UCC mugs from St. John’s, Newark off the shelf.

Thank you, my friends, for nearly thirteen wonderful years of serving you as a pastor, teacher, and forever friend.

Reverend Mark Katrick, UCC of St. John’s


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