Catholics in the Diocese of Cleveland will have the opportunity to “give to those who have given a lifetime” as part of the collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious, which will take place in parishes this weekend, Dec. 7-8.
Sister Rochelle Guertal, of the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity in Cleveland and director of the diocesan office for religious, coordinates the annual appeal in conjunction with the National Religious Retirement Office in Washington, D.C.
“Monies collected will benefit over 32,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests whose religious congregations lack adequate retirement funding,” Sister Guertal explained.
Last year, the Diocese of Cleveland contributed $428,482 to the collection. In 2019, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, Sisters of Notre Dame, Sisters of the Holy Spirit, Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity, St. Andrew Abbey and the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland received financial assistance made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious. Women and men religious who serve or have served in the diocese but whose communities are based elsewhere also may benefit from the annual appeal.
“During the season of giving this collection allows for parishioners to ‘Share in the Care’ for those who sacrificed for so many in our schools, cities and foreign missions. For so many, they are in a time of need,” Sister Guertal said.
Roughly 94 cents of every dollar aids senior religious. Communities utilize the funds to subsidize expenses such as prescription medications and nursing care. Throughout the year, additional funding is allocated to assist religious communities with the greatest needs and to promote ongoing education in retirement planning and eldercare delivery.
Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests — known collectively as religious — served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits.
“Many sisters served as teachers and worked for just one dollar a day,” Sister Guertal said, adding “Today, hundreds of religious communities lack sufficient retirement savings.”
Compounding the funding shortage are the rising cost of care and the decrease in income that has resulted from the declining number of religious able to serve in compensated ministry.
“We are humbled and profoundly grateful for the love and support from within our diocese. Generosity to the annual collection ensures our office can furnish support to help these communities care for older members while continuing their ministries and witness,” Sister Guertal said.
Click here for more information on how to make a donation.