Are priests allowed to “retire” from their service or limit their willingness to serve to the point where their congregation is suffering as a result?
The Holy Mystery of the Priesthood is forever (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6; 7:17). The priesthood is not an occupation, but a calling from God to personally serve Him by serving His people. If a priest is aging and/or has special health and/or age-related limitations, the overseeing bishop will not impose more hardships upon him. The bishop may lighten his load, ordain another priest to help him in the service, assign different responsibilities to him, or decrease his service schedule. The aging priest will always wear his robe and his place will be in the sanctuary even during the liturgies, which may be officiated by another priest. No one desires for anyone to suffer. Once the bishop understands the circumstances, he will make the best decision for the congregation, but the congregation must also remain patient and supportive. It is not easy finding the most suitable priest for the congregation. Prayer must be first and foremost in the process of selecting a priest.