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WASHINGTON—The National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) distributed $23 million in financial assistance in June to 439 religious communities to aid in the care of their senior members. The funds were made possible by the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection, which benefits elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and priests in religious orders. The most recent collection raised over $29 million and was held in the majority of U.S. Catholic parishes in December 2012.
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 Council 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 needs, such as prescription medications and nursing care.
The funding disbursed this week 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-three percent of donations aid elderly religious and their communities, while the remaining seven percent are used for administration and promotion of the annual appeal.
"We continue to be humbled and overwhelmed by the generosity of Catholics across the nation who faithfully support our senior religious each year," said NRRO Executive Director Sister Janice Bader, a member of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O'Fallon, Missouri. "With this support, many religious communities have been able to transform their retirement crises into manageable concerns."
More information is available at www.retiredreligious.org.
Keywords: National Religious Retirement office, NRRO, retired religious, nuns, Sister Janice Bader, bishops, Catholic
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