Take care of retired religious on Dec. 2-3

Published: November 30, 2023

The annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held Dec. 2-3 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 donated $189,587.99 to the collection in Arkansas. The Benedictines of Subiaco Abbey and the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Little Rock received a combined $83,734.29 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 our diocese by reading about five sisters who are celebrating 60, 70 and 75 years of service to the Church in Dec. 2 issue of Arkansas Catholic. These religious have served the diocese as educators, cooks and faith formation and religious 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. Only 6 percent of religious communities reported having sufficient retirement funds in 2023.

“Addressing the needs of our aging religious demands substantial financial commitment. We are profoundly touched and blessed by the enduring generosity of the Catholic faithful. Their contributions to this fund are fundamental in aiding our elderly religious,” said John Knutsen, NRRO director. “Through this national collection, we have the privilege to respond to the lifetime dedication of these individuals by ensuring their well-being in retirement."

Since this national collection began in 1988, U.S. Catholics have given more than $975 million, with almost $842 million distributed to support the day-to-day care of thousands of elderly sisters, brothers and religious order priests. From 2009 onwards, the annual expenses of supporting senior women and men religious surpassed $1 billion, according to the NRRO.