WASHINGTON — The annual collection that supports nearly 25,000 elderly religious sisters, brothers and religious order priests in the United States will take place in participating dioceses on the weekend of December 10-11. The collection, coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), distributes financial assistance for retirement needs to eligible religious institutes.
Historically, Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests served in Church ministries such as parishes, schools, and health care facilities for little to no pay. As a result, many now lack adequate retirement savings. With rising health-care expenses, hundreds of U.S. religious communities are struggling to care for elder members and now face a large gap between the needs of their older members and the funds available to support members’ care. The bishops of the United States initiated the Retirement Fund for Religious Collection in 1988 to help address this deficit in retirement funding among U.S. religious orders. Last year, the NRRO annual collection raised more than $28 million.
“The care of our aging religious presents an enormous financial responsibility. I feel we are deeply blessed by the generosity of the Catholic faithful who steadfastly contribute to this fund, helping us meet the needs of our aging religious,” said Sister Stephanie Still, a member of the Sisters of the Presentation of San Francisco, and executive director of the NRRO. “This national collection is one way that we can honor the life-long work of the women and men in religious communities by caring for them in their retirement,” she added.
According to statistical data gathered by the NRRO in 2022, only 7% of the religious communities that provided data to the NRRO reported being adequately funded for retirement. Since 1988, U.S. Catholics have generously donated close to $948 million, with almost $920 million distributed to support hundreds of religious communities as they care for aging members and plan for their retirement. Since 2009, the annual cost to support senior women and men religious has exceeded $1 billion.