Fr. Bernie Scianna, O.S.A., the Prior Provincial of the Midwest Augustinians, says that it is the duty - indeed the sacred obligation - of our Augustinian Province to see that our retired and infirm friars receive the care they need in the twilight years of their lives. These men have lived lives of great purpose and have significantly impacted the lives of tens of thousands of men, women, and children in Chicagoland and elsewhere in the Midwest. It would be hard to live a more meaningful and impactful life.
Finding the funds to care for these 30 elderly and infirm friars is no easy task. The total cost of that care is about one million dollars annually. So it was wonderful news when Mr. Nathaniel Grey, a trustee of the Bernard Heerey Foundation, informed the Augustinians that the foundation would consider an application to support elderly friars who had served in Chicago, which most of our men have done. The Bernard Heerey Foundation has now granted the Augustinians $50,000 to cover the care of one of our friars for a year.
Bernard Heerey, for whom the foundation is named, was a successful local businessman and Catholic who loved Chicago and its people. He died in 1999 at the age of 79, but his vision for improving the spiritual landscape of Chicago continues. Mr. Grey stated that these kinds of impactful grants would be in keeping with Mr. Heerey's values and charitable priorities. Needless to say, the Augustinians are very grateful to Mr. Grey and to his deceased friend and colleague, Bernard Heerey.
The Midwest Augustinians began serving in the City of Chicago in 1905. Today, there are many retired Augustinians in the Chicago area. The majority of them retire around age 78 or 79; most of them have each given 50 years of service as pastors, teachers, chaplains, or other religious ministries to the people of Chicago. In keeping with the Augustinian vow of poverty, they have lived modest lives of service with no thought of their own personal retirement, health care, or putting away funds for themselves.