Annual collection helps religious communities address retirement shortfall
MANCHESTER — The annual collection for The Retirement Fund for Religious is Dec. 7-8 in the Diocese of Manchester.
Now in its 26th year, the collection benefits more than 34,000 senior sisters, brothers,and priests, known collectively as women and men religious-
Despite noteworthy generosity to the collection, numerous religious communities still must struggle to provide adequate care.
Last year, the Diocese of Manchester contributed $242,336.12 to this collection.
In 2013, the Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sisters of Holy Cross from the fund.
Additionally, women and men who serve or have served in the diocese but whose communities are based elsewhere may benefit from the appeal.
The Most Rev. Peter A. Libasci, bishop of Manchester, urges support for the collection.
“When I think of how religious women and men have enriched the lives of so many Catholics, I thank God for their service to the church. Now, we have a real opportunity to give back to those who served so well for so long.
Each year our church in New Hampshire responds with great generosity to this collection; may I please ask you to be so generous once more.”
Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the collection in 1988 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. Since the collection began, Catholics have contributed $698 million.
More than 93 percent of donations directly support senior religious and their communities.
The 2012 appeal raised $27 million nationwide and enabled the National Religious Retirement Office to distribute $23 million to 440 religious communities throughout the country.
Communities use these funds to bolster retirement savings and to subsidize day-to-day expenses such as prescription medications and nursing care.
Nearly $3.6 million was allocated to assist religious communities with the greatest needs and to promote ongoing education in retirement and elder-care delivery.
In the past, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits. Their sacrifices now leave their religious communities without adequate savings for retirement.
Of 548 communities, only 8 percent were fully funded for retirement.
At the same time, the number of religious needing care is on the rise. In 2012, 61 percent of the religious communities providing data had a median age of 75 or older.
Accompanying the higher median age is a decrease in the number of religious able to serve in compensated ministry.
By 2023, the National Religious Retirement Office projects that retired religious will outnumber wage-earning religious by four to one.