Take care of retired religious on Dec. 3-4

Published: December 2, 2022

The annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held Dec. 3-4 in the Diocese of Little Rock. Coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), the appeal benefits thousands of elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests whose religious congregations lack adequate retirement funding. Please give to those who have given a lifetime.

Last year, Catholics in Arkansas donated $168,241.97 to the collection. The Benedictines of Subiaco Abbey and the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Little Rock received a combined $107,756.96 in financial support made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious. Religious communities apply annually for financial support from the national collection, and distributions are sent to each eligible community’s central house.

Learn about the religious who are serving in Arkansas by reading about three sisters and one religious brother who are celebrating 25, 60, 70 and 75 years of service to the Church in Dec. 3 issue of Arkansas Catholic. These religious have served the diocese as educators, cooks and faith formation directors and continue to serve in their religious communities in any way they can, even in retirement. 

Historically, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests served for little to no pay. With rising health-care expenses, hundreds of U.S. religious communities face a large gap between the needs of their older members and the funds available to support their care.  

According to the NRRO, religious communities are financially responsible for the support and care of their members. Income, earnings and expenses are managed separately in parishes and diocesan structures of the Catholic Church. 

"Like many Americans, religious communities face the monumental challenge of funding eldercare. Currently, the average annual cost of care for women and men religious past age 70 is nearly $51,000 per person. Skilled care is roughly $78,000. The total cost of care for senior women and men religious in the United States has exceeded $1 billion annually for each of the last 14 years."

Since this national collection began in 1988, more than $919 million has been distributed to congregations across the nation. This includes almost $817 million to help underwrite the direct care of elderly religious and $102 million to help congregations bolster savings and develop comprehensive retirement strategies, according to the NRRO.