WASHINGTON — On the weekend of Dec. 9-10, participating dioceses will take up the annual collection that benefits approximately 24,000 elderly religious sisters, brothers and religious order priests across the United States. Coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office, the collection provides qualified religious institutes with financial aid to address retirement necessities.
Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests have dedicated their lives to Church ministries such as parishes, schools and health care institutions, usually with little to no compensation. Consequently, a significant number currently have insufficient retirement funds, combined with escalating health care costs. Numerous religious communities in the United States are experiencing challenges with providing for their elderly members and are confronting a sizable disparity between available funds and the costs of care.
In 1988, the bishops of the United States established the Retirement Fund for Religious collection to address this serious retirement funding need among U.S. religious orders. In 2022, the annual collection raised $27.6 million.
“Addressing the needs of our aging religious demands substantial financial commitment. We are profoundly touched and blessed by the enduring generosity of the Catholic faithful. Their contributions to this fund are fundamental in aiding our elderly religious,” remarked John Knutsen, the NRRO’s director. “Through this national collection, we have the privilege to respond to the lifetime dedication of these individuals by ensuring their well-being in retirement,” he further commented.
Per the 2023 statistics collected by the NRRO, a mere 6 percent of religious communities that shared data with the NRRO reported having sufficient retirement funding. Since the fund’s inception, U.S. Catholics have graciously contributed more than $975 million, with almost $842 million has been distributed to support the day-to-day care of thousands of elderly sisters, brothers and religious order priests. From 2009 onwards, the annual expenses of supporting senior women and men religious surpassed $1 billion.
For more about the initiatives of the National Religious Retirement Office and opportunities to support retired sisters, brothers and religious order priests, please visit retiredreligious.org.