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​Appeal assists elderly Sisters, Brothers and priests in religious orders

November 18, 2020 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: In the Press, Vocations, Breaking News


Appeal assists elderly Sisters, Brothers and priests in religious orders

The Archdiocese of San Antonio will hold the Retirement Fund for Religious collection Dec. 12-13. The National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) coordinates this annual appeal and distributes the proceeds to assist eligible U.S. religious communities with their retirement needs. Nearly 30,000 senior sisters, brothers and religious order priests benefit.

Last year, the Archdiocese of San Antonio donated $267,701.93 to the collection. In 2020, the Congregation of Divine Providence, Cordi-Marian Sisters, Discalced Carmelite Friars, Eucharistic Franciscan Missionary Sisters, Hermanas Catequistas Guadalupanas, Institute of the Daughters of Mary, Misioneras de Nuestra Sra del Perpetuo Socorro, Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence, Our Lady of Guadalupe & Infant of Prague, Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus received a combined total of $600,713.54 in financial support made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious.

“The generosity of U.S. Catholics enables us to continue our ministry for aging women and men religious,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, the NRRO’s executive director. “We are overwhelmed with gratitude.”

This year, two women religious from the Archdiocese of San Antonio are featured in the national campaign, and their images are included on promotional materials used across the country. Sister Alice Garcia, 91, has been a member of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus since 1954 and ministered primarily in Catholic education. Sister Theresa McGrath, 86, is originally from Ireland and joined the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, at age 16. She served in a variety of ministries, including as vice president for Mission, Ethics, and Spirituality at Incarnate World Health System, which later became part of CHRISTUS Health System.

In 1988, Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the Retirement Fund for Religious collection to help address the deficit in retirement funding among U.S. religious congregations. Each congregation is responsible for the care and support of its members. Financial distributions from the collection are sent to a congregation’s central house and may be applied toward immediate expenses — such as medications or nursing care — or invested for future eldercare needs.

Historically, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests served for little to no pay. Today, many religious communities lack sufficient retirement savings. Of 531 communities providing data to the NRRO, only 29 are adequately funded for retirement. Rising health-care costs and a growing number of senior members compound the challenge to meet retirement expenses.

The 2019 collection raised $26.2 million, and in June, the NRRO disbursed $25 million in financial assistance to 341 religious communities. Throughout the year, additional funding is allocated for resources and services that help communities improve eldercare delivery and plan for long-term retirement needs. For example, a new online webinar offers professional guidance on adapting care protocols to address issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

“During these trying times, we know the best way to support senior religious is to continue helping their communities address retirement and eldercare challenges,” said Sister Still. “Our grateful prayer is with all whose love and generosity sustain this mission.”

Visit retiredreligious.org to learn more.