PORTLAND — On the weekend of Dec. 12-13, parishioners and community members in the Diocese of Portland will have the opportunity to give to those who have given a lifetime.
A special collection will be held during all Masses in Maine churches for the Retirement Fund for Religious. The fund benefits over 30,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests.
“Like the universal Church, our Church in Maine has been touched by the many women and men in religious life who have offered prayers for the people of the diocese and ministered to all in education, healthcare, social services, pastoral ministry, and religious education within parishes, healthcare facilities, schools, and social service agencies,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “I want to express my profound thanks to them for responding to the call of the Lord to serve the Church and encourage all who are able to contribute to this important fund.”
Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits. Today, hundreds of religious communities lack sufficient retirement savings. COVID-19 has compounded this already difficult situation.
“Donations to the Retirement Fund for Religious have a far-reaching impact,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, the executive director of the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO). “Most importantly, they help communities care for aging members, but they also underwrite initiatives aimed at addressing the underlying causes of the funding shortages.”
Communities utilize these funds to bolster retirement savings and subsidize expenses, such as prescription medications and nursing care; promote collaborative care facilities; cultivate strategic partnerships with providers of healthcare; and generate numerous cost-saving measures.
Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988. Since the launch of the collection, U.S. Catholics have donated over $900 million to the annual appeal.
“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.”
For more information about the collection or the NRRO, visit www.retiredreligious.org.