The Diocese of Fall River will hold the Retirement Fund for Religious collection December 12-13.

The National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) coordinates this nationwide annual appeal and distributes the proceeds to assist eligible U.S. religious communities with their retirement needs. Nearly 30,000 senior sisters, brothers and religious order priests benefit.

Last year, the Diocese of Fall River donated $112,168.28 to the collection. In 2020, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts -who have served in the Fall River Diocese since 1905- received financial support made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious.

“The generosity of U.S. Catholics enables us to continue our ministry for aging women and men religious,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, the NRRO’s executive director. “We are overwhelmed with gratitude.”

In 1988, Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the Retirement Fund for Religious collection to help address the deficit in retirement funding among U.S. religious congregations. Each congregation is responsible for the care and support of its members. Financial distributions from the collection are sent to a congregation’s central house and may be applied toward immediate expenses—such as medications or nursing care—or invested for future eldercare needs.

Historically, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests served for little to no pay. Today, many religious communities lack sufficient retirement savings. Of 531 communities providing data to the NRRO, only 29 are adequately funded for retirement. Rising health-care costs and a growing number of senior members compound the challenge to meet retirement expenses.

The 2019 collection raised $26.2 million, and in June, the NRRO disbursed $25 million in financial assistance to 341 religious communities. Throughout the year, additional funding is allocated for resources and services that help communities improve eldercare delivery and plan for long-term retirement needs. For example, a new online webinar offers professional guidance on adapting care protocols to address issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

“During these trying times, we know the best way to support senior religious is to continue helping their communities address retirement and eldercare challenges,” said Sister Still. “Our grateful prayer is with all whose love and generosity sustain this mission.”

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Donations to support the Retirement Fund for Religious may also be sent directly to the National Religious Retirement Office at 3211 Fourth Street NE, Washington, D.C., 20017-1194.

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