Give to those who have given a lifetime

Published: November 26, 2019

En Español

The annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held Nov. 30 - Dec. 1 in the Diocese of Little Rock. Coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), the appeal benefits more than 31,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests whose religious congregations lack adequate retirement funding.

Last year, Catholics in the Diocese of Little Rock donated $166,927.48 to this collection, and two religious communities in Arkansas received financial support from the Retirement Fund for Religious. They were: Subiaco Abbey in Subiaco and the Carmel of St. Teresa of Jesus in Little Rock. Religious communities apply annually for financial support from the national collection, and distributions are sent to each eligible community’s central house.

Historically, women and men religious received very little pay for their work and any surplus income was reinvested in their ministries, including Catholic schools and hospitals. As a result, hundreds of religious houses lack adequate retirement funds to care for the aging members of their communities.

"In 2018, 72 percent of the congregations providing data to the NRRO had a median age of 70 or older. With a higher median age comes a decline in income — due to the decreased number of wage-earning members — and a rising cost of care. The total cost of care for some 30,000 religious past age 70 now exceeds $1 billion annually," according the NRRO. Visit the website to learn more.

Nationally, donations to the 2018 Retirement Fund for Religious appeal totaled $27.7 million, which benefited 360 religious communities across the United States. Congregations may use the funding for immediate expenses, such as medications or nursing care. They are also able to invest it for the future retirement and eldercare needs of their respective religious communities. In addition, proceeds from the annual appeal enable the NRRO to furnish educational and consultative resources that help congregations to improve care and plan for long-term retirement needs.