Road to home for senior priests is Emmaus

Father Ken Metz, left, and Father Ed Waters stand in front of their homes at Emmaus Senior Community. (PHOTOS BY GLENDA MEEKINS | FC)

WINTER PARK | When not assisting at local parishes, Father Ronald Oser spent his summer surrounded by cardboard boxes and packing tape.

For months he has been gradually moving out of his family’s home in Ocala, to his new home, Emmaus, an independent living community for senior priests on the grounds of the San Pedro Spiritual Development Center in Winter Park. With the increasing expense and energy needed to maintain his home, the opportunity to move to Emmaus was an answered prayer for the nearly 80-year old.

“I took care of my mom and dad, and I’ve been living in the family home ever since. It’s 2,600 square feet with a garage and greenhouse in the back, on nearly a half-acre of land. The yard, the garden, the flowers – I love all those things, but I can’t do it anymore,” explained Father Oser, who has limited mobility after breaking his knee in a car accident four years ago. “Part of Emmaus is realizing it’s time to slow down another notch. None of us like to admit we’re slowing down, but we really do. Thank God the diocese has these apartments.”

Construction of the Emmaus community began in 2021, and phase one is now complete, with five duplexes and a community area ready to welcome residents. Another 10 units are in the works, for a total of 15, one bedroom homes that come fully furnished with 1,015-square-feet of living space, a porch, and carport.

“San Pedro Center is so honored to be part of Emmaus and to be helping care for our retired priests. These men have given their lives to God and the Church and now we can make their retirement more comfortable and as worry free as possible,” said Randall Pinner, executive director of San Pedro, whose staff will provide housekeeping and maintenance services as well as security for the community.

Even more meaningful than the practical help San Pedro provides, is the spiritual home it offers.

“San Pedro Center provides the retired priest a sacred space for outdoor fun and a beautiful chapel for time with our Lord. The Emmaus residents are invited to partake in the life of the center by attending San Pedro Center Programs and participating in the Sacramental needs for Mass, Adoration, and Reconciliation,” explained Pinner. “We are so fortunate to have these holy men as part of our ministry and to participate in Bishop Noonan’s vision of providing homes for our retired priests.”

Father Ed Waters, who moved into Emmaus this past spring, said the beautiful surroundings and proximity of the Mary, Mother of God chapel are among the best parts of living there.

“The best thing is when you retire, having a place that is comfortable to live in. They have activities going on all the time. I look over a beautiful grassy area behind me and I can walk down to the chapel. The chapel is beautiful. I’m there three times a day for morning, afternoon and evening prayer,” remarked Father Waters, who has been approached by visitors for the Sacrament of Reconciliation while there and is always happy to be on hand to help.

Father Oser agreed, saying he looks forward to helping out at San Pedro and surrounding parishes. But when not busy serving, the campus of San Pedro provides ample opportunity for peace and relaxation.

“The beauty of San Pedro is the renewal there. My room looks down at the cemetery. I can see my final resting place. That might bother some people, but I don’t mind it,” Father Oser said with a laugh. “This is the next phase of my life. I accept that. I know I’ve done the best I can. I was a religious brother for 26 years, now a priest for 31 years. That’s over 50 years of dedicated service to the Church. I’m grateful to the bishop for building this because I was struggling. The diocese has been very helpful and the people at San Pedro that have been helping have been tremendous. I highly recommend it for any priest that feels overwhelmed by taking care of a house or a condo. For me it’s the right choice.”

Interested priests may contact Deacon Joe Gassman, Emmaus Endowment Fund accepted, to provide ongoing support to priests unable to afford full rental cost and cover the comprehensive care management program for retired priests residing at Emmaus. Visit for more information.


By Liz Wilson, Special to the Florida Catholic, August 3, 2023