By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
In 1998, the U.S. bishops established the Retirement Fund for Religious to help offset a deficit in retirement for those serving through religious institutes. The collection benefits Catholic sisters, brothers and priests in religious orders.
This year’s Retirement Fund for Religious collection in parishes is Dec. 10-11. Last year, parishioners in the Diocese of Davenport donated $62,783.18 to the collection, said Sister Stephanie Still, executive director of the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO). She also is a member of the Sisters of the Presentation of San Francisco. While no religious organizations within the Davenport Diocese received funds in 2022, several have in the past, she said.
“Your financial gift helps religious communities provide life-giving opportunities for their members,” said Sister Marcia Eckerman, CHM, coordinator for the collection in the Diocese of Davenport. “The care may include opportunities to enjoy life through music, crafts and interaction with family, friends and community members. The gift of life-giving opportunities helps to extend the educational, mental and physical life of those who have given much of their life to others.”
“The care of our aging religious presents an enormous financial responsibility. It is our privilege to care for those who gave a lifetime of tireless service, and I feel we are deeply blessed by all the U.S. Catholic donors who have steadfastly contributed to this fund,” Sister Still said.
Historically, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests — known collectively as women and men religious — served for little to no pay. “With rising health-care expenses, hundreds of U.S. religious communities face a large gap between the needs of their older members and the funds available to support their care. As a result, many now lack adequate retirement savings,” an NRRO press release states.
Overall, the 2021 appeal raised nearly $28.5 million and the NRRO distributed funding to 271 U.S. religious communities. Donations also underwrite resources that help religious communities improve elder care and plan for long-term retirement needs.
Visit retiredreligious.org for more information and stories of religious women and men.