Annual collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious will happen in December
by Sister Mary Kabat
published November 2017
In your parish this December you will again hear of the financial need of retired priests, brothers and sisters in the United States. The Retirement Fund for Religious Appeal launched by the U.S. bishops in 1988 continues to receive generous support from Catholics across the country. Proceeds from the appeal enable the National Religious Retirement Office to distribute financial assistance to hundreds of eligible religious communities. Communities must apply and qualify for assistance each year.
In the Green Bay Diocese a collection for retired diocesan priests is combined with the appeal for retired religious. Donors can make a choice or have their gift divided between these two needs.
Across the U.S., hundreds of religious communities lack sufficient financial resources to meet the retirement and health-care needs of aging members. Why? Historically, Catholic religious sisters, brothers, and religious order priests received small stipends that just met the needs of the day. Any surplus funds were reinvested in ministry and the education of younger members. There were no funds to save for retirement.
Now, like many Americans, religious communities face the challenge of funding eldercare. The cost of care for senior women and men religious in the United States has exceeded $1 billion annually for each of the last nine years.
Support from the Retirement Fund for Religious helps religious communities care for senior members while continuing important ministries for the People of God. About 94 percent of donations go directly to address the needs of retired religious. The vast majority of those donations -- 80 to 90% -- are distributed as Direct Care Assistance. Direct Care Assistance is a per capita distribution based on specified criteria, including level of need. Additional funding is allocated throughout the year for communities with the greatest needs and for retirement education and programming.
The National Religious Retirement Office offers assessment tools, educational programming, services, and resources that promote quality eldercare and help religious communities plan for long-term retirement needs. The office also coordinates an extensive network of volunteer consultants, including experts in health care and financial planning, who provide hands-on assistance to religious communities with critical funding deficits.
Thanks to the generous response to this appeal, tens of thousands of elderly Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests have benefitted. We are one of those communities who have greatly benefitted from this appeal, and we thank you!
The Retirement Fund for Religious helps religious communities care for senior members -- today and tomorrow.
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