Collection helps religious communities’ retirement shortfall

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The annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held Dec. 7-8 in the Diocese of Camden.
Now in its 26th year, the collection is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) in Washington, D.C., and benefits over 34,000 senior Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests.
Last year, the Diocese of Camden contributed $130,024.79 to this collection.
In 2013, the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy, Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Infant Jesus, Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, and the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception received financial support made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious.
Additionally, women and men religious who serve or have served in the diocese but whose communities are based elsewhere may benefit from the annual appeal.
Bishops of the United States initiated the collection in 1988 to address the significant lack of retirement funding among U.S. religious communities. Proceeds are distributed to eligible communities to help underwrite retirement and health care expenses.
Since the collection began, Catholics have contributed $698 million. Over 93 percent of donations directly support senior religious and their communities.
“I am deeply grateful to the Catholics across the nation who faithfully support the Retirement Fund for Religious,” said Precious Blood Sister Janice Bader, NRRO’s executive director. “Their generosity allows our office to provide vital financial assistance to hundreds of religious communities each year.”
The 2012 appeal raised $27 million and enabled the NRRO to distribute $23 million to 440 religious communities throughout the country. Communities utilize these funds to bolster retirement savings and to subsidize such day-to-day expenses as prescription medications and nursing care.
The NRRO also allocated nearly $3.6 million to assist religious communities with the greatest needs and to promote ongoing education in retirement and elder-care delivery.
Numerous religious communities struggle to provide adequate care. In the past, Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests – known collectively as women and men religious -served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits. Their sacrifices now leave their religious communities without adequate savings for retirement.
Of 548 communities submitting data to the NRRO in 2012, only 8 percent were fully funded for retirement.
The rising cost of care compounds funding difficulties. Last year, the average annual cost of care for senior religious was over $38,000 per person, while skilled care averaged more than $57,000. The total cost of care for senior women and men religious was over $1.1 billion in 2012 alone.