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WASHINGTON—The National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) distributed $23 million in financial assistance in June to 453 religious communities to aid in the care of their senior members. The funds were made possible by the annual collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious, which benefits elderly Catholic sisters, brothers, and priests in religious orders. The most recent collection raised over $27 million and was held in the majority of U.S. Catholic parishes in December 2011.
The funding disbursed in late June is known as Direct Care Assistance and represents the majority of financial assistance distributed by the NRRO. Additional funding will be allocated for religious communities with the greatest needs and for ongoing education in retirement planning and elder-care delivery. Ninety-five percent of donations aid elderly religious, while five percent are used for administration.
"The good our office is able to do is in direct measure to the good we have been given," said NRRO Executive Director Sister Janice Bader, a member of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O'Fallon, Missouri. "We continue to be humbled and overwhelmed by the generosity of Catholics across the nation who faithfully support our senior religious each year."
The Catholic bishops in the United States launched the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988 to address the significant lack of retirement funding among religious communities. The NRRO, formerly the Tri-Conference Retirement Office, was established to coordinate the annual collection and to distribute the proceeds to religious communities in need. Today, the organization is sponsored by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), the Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests, known collectively as women and men religious, served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits. As a result, many religious communities now lack adequate savings for retirement and elder care.
Religious communities are financially autonomous and thus responsible for the care of their senior members. Most support elder care through their own income and savings, and many also participate in government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Annual allocations from the Retirement Fund for Religious supplement these funds and help underwrite a variety of immediate and ongoing needs, such as prescription medications and nursing care.
Keywords: National Religious Retirement Office, NRRO, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, LCWR, eldercare, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, CMSM, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious , CMSWR, Retirement Fund for Religious
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