By Lillian Fallon
When a diocesan Priest is ordained, he makes a lifelong commitment to serve the needs of the faithful. In return, the Diocese of Allentown makes a commitment to each Priest to provide for his basic well-being during his lifetime, including retirement. The normal retirement age for a priest in our Diocese is 75.
Retirement costs, including insurance, healthcare, prescription drugs, skilled nursing care, and housing and sustenance, continue to escalate. At present, approximately one-third of diocesan Priests are retired. Due to the ever-increasing costs of care, the Diocese has created an Endowment Fund as an additional source of funding to cover these expenses in the future.
“Becoming a Priest first occurred to me when I began serving Mass in the fifth grade, when I was 10 years of age,” said Father Harold F. Dagle. “In my mind, I thought, ‘This is the kind of work I want to do.’ One day, the other server did not show up, so the Priest who was the celebrant for the Mass gave me the key to the tabernacle.”
Father Dagle was ordained in May 1959 in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. His assignments included assistant pastor, Annunciation BVM, Shenandoah (1959-62); religion and math teacher, Marian High School, Tamaqua (1962-65); religion and math teacher, Nativity BVM High School, Pottsville (1965-68); assistant pastor, SS. Simon and Jude, Bethlehem (1968-70); assistant pastor, St. Joseph, Summit Hill (1970-72); assistant pastor, Holy Rosary, Reading (1972-73); pastor, St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Branchdale (1973-80); pastor, Immaculate Conception, Allentown (1980-2008); pastor emeritus, Immaculate Conception (2008); Catholic chaplain, VA Medical Center, Lebanon (2008-2023). He went to Immaculate Conception in Douglassville for two years before retiring at Holy Family Villa in May of 2023.
Father Dagle’s eyes twinkled as he recalled the realization he came to as an altar boy. “I was carrying a key out to the tabernacle, and I was thinking, ‘I’m carrying the keys to the house of God.’ And it meant so much.”
He continued, “That idea of working so closely, for the sake of God just kept growing in my heart and in my mind. I decided I wanted to become a Priest and went to seminary after the 10th grade. And so I did.”
“I was carrying a key out to the tabernacle, and I was thinking, ‘I’m carrying the keys to the house of God.’ ”Father Harold F. Dagle
Monsignor James Treston’s room is decorated with photos taken with Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI intermingled with Phillies memorabilia.
He is energetic and upbeat, recalling stories of his youth; summers spent in Philadelphia in the back of his uncle’s ice van, slinging ice for restaurants in the early hours of the morning. His mentor and role model was a Priest whom he served Mass for throughout his childhood: “He never missed any of my sports games. He was always on the bench.”
Monsignor Treston was ordained May 14, 1960 in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He served as assistant pastor, St. Peter the Apostle, Reading (1960-66); Our Lady Help of Christians, Allentown (1966-68); St. Patrick, Pottsville (1968-72); Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown (1972-75); pastor, the former St. Canicus, Mahanoy City (1975-83); and St. Ignatius in Sinking Springs (1983-present). He resided at St. Catharine of Siena in Reading as pastor emeritus before retiring to Holy Family Villa.
“The greatest joy [was] to serve the people of God,”Monsignor James Treston
“The greatest joy [was] to serve the people of God,” Monsignor Treston recalled.
Looking back at his years of ministry, he concluded. “I can truly say I never questioned my decision to become a Priest.” He paused and smiled again, “Yeah, I’ve never looked back.”
To support the retired priests like Father Dagle and Monsignor Treston, consider donating to the Diocese of Allentown’s Endowment for the Care of Retired Priests at http://www.weloveourpriests.org/.