Catholics Can Share in the Care of Retired Religious

Catholics in the Diocese of Orlando will have the opportunity to “Share in the Care” of senior religious by participating in the annual collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious (RFR), to be held December 11-12. The collection is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office in Washington and provides financial support for the day-to-day care of thousands of elderly Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests.

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Catholics in the Diocese of Orlando will have the opportunity to “Share in the Care” of senior religious by participating in the annual collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious (RFR), to be held December 11-12. The collection is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office in Washington and provides financial support for the day-to-day care of thousands of elderly Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests.

Last year, the Diocese of Orlando contributed $205,791.34 to this collection. Many women and men religious who serve or have served in the diocese but whose institutes are headquartered elsewhere may benefit from this fund.

The Retirement Fund for Religious (RFR) addresses the significant lack of retirement funding for Catholic sisters, brothers, and priests in religious orders. The National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), formerly the Tri-Conference Retirement Office, was established to coordinate the annual collection and to distribute the proceeds of this collection to religious institutes in need.

The crisis in retirement funding can be attributed to three primary factors: insufficient retirement savings, rising health-care costs, and declining income. Traditionally, women and men religious worked for small stipends that furnished only the basics of daily living. As a result, a majority of religious communities lack adequate savings for retirement. At the same time, the cost of care continues to increase, especially as older religious now outnumber younger religious. Today, there are nearly 35,000 religious past age 70 living in the United States. In 2009, the average annual cost for their care was over $36,000 per person. Skilled care averaged $56,000 per person. Currently, the income of younger religious supports a large portion of elder-care expenses. In the coming years, however, this will no longer be the case as more religious reach retirement age and leave compensated ministry.

The annual appeal for the Retirement Fund for Religious, which is taken up each December in most U.S. Catholic parishes, provides vital support to religious institutes in meeting current and future retirement needs. Since 1989, the National Religious Retirement Office has distributed over $582 million to religious institutes across the nation, including almost $517 million to help underwrite the direct care of elderly religious. More than $65 million has supported efforts by religious institutes to stabilize retirement savings and to develop comprehensive retirement strategies.

For more information, visit www.retiredreligious.org.