Annual Collection Benefits 33,000 Sisters, Brothers, Priests in Religious Orders
Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00

NEWS RELEASE                     144 West Wood Street,
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                                                                     Rev. Monsignor John A. Zuraw, Chancellor

FOR RELEASE Immediate DATE SENT October 12, 2015
SUBJECT         AnnualCollection Benefits 33,000 Brothers, Sisters, Priests in Religious 
MORE INFO     Office of Vowed Religious Services   330.744.8451

The annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held Nov. 21- 22 in the Diocese of Youngstown. Now in its 28th year, the appeal is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) and offers support for senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests whose communities lack sufficient retirement funding. Some 33,000 women and men religious past age 70 benefit.

The Diocese of Youngstown contributed $ 335,202.46 to the last collection. In 2015, the Antonine Sisters, Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration, Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Mark and the Ursuline Sisters received financial assistance made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious. Women and men religious who serve or have served in the diocese but whose communities are based elsewhere may also benefit from the annual collection.

The 2014 appeal raised $28.3 million, and the NRRO distributed more than $25 million in financial support to 395 religious communities. Throughout the year, additional funding is allocated for communities with the greatest needs and for retirement planning and educational resources. Ninety-three cents of every dollar directly aids elderly religious; the remainder is used for administration and promotion of the appeal.

"We are overwhelmed by the ongoing generosity shown this appeal," said Precious Blood Sister Janice Bader, the NRRO's executive director. "Since the fund was launched in 1988, Catholics have donated $755 million to assist religious communities in caring for their elder members."

The U.S. bishops initiated the collection 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.

While the response to the collection is unprecedented, so is the need. The total cost of care for senior women and men religious has exceeded $1 billion for each of the last six years. At the same time, the number of religious needing care is on the rise. In 2014, 66 percent of the religious communities providing data to the NRRO had a median age of 70 or older. Accompanying the higher median age is a decrease in the number of religious able to serve in compensated ministry, which further reduces the income available for eldercare.