At Masses this weekend across the diocese, the annual collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious will be taken up.
Launched in 1988, by the bishops of the United States, it addresses the significant lack of retirement funding for religious orders.
This deficit 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 little pay. Today, a majority of religious orders lack adequate savings for retirement. At the same time, the cost of care continues to increase, especially as older religious both outnumber younger religious and are living longer. Since 2009, the total cost of care for religious past age 70 has exceeded $1 billion annually, and there are more than twice as many religious past age 70 as under.
Last year, the faithful in the diocese contributed $290,855.29 to the collection. And those donations and more came back to help religious orders in our diocese. In 2014, the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the Monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns, the Sister of Charity of St. Elizabeth, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Xaverian Missionary Fathers received a combined total of $527,906.74 in financial support made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious.
This Advent, remember the religious who so faithfully served us over the years and touched our faith lives in so many ways. This weekend is our opportunity to help them with their retirement needs, showing our thanks to them for all they have done.