National Religious Retirement Office Distributes $25 Million to Support Elderly Religious

Recently, the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) distributed $25 million to 390 religious communities across the United States. The funding is provided by donations to the Retirement Fund for Religious collection. The annual, parish-based appeal is held in most U.S. Catholic parishes each December and benefits more than 32,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests. The most recent collection raised nearly $30.7 million and marked the second year in a row that contributions exceeded $30 million.

“We are overwhelmed by the generous support for senior religious and their communities,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, NRRO executive director. “We are equally moved by our donors’ ongoing gratitude for the ministry of religious, past and present.”

The $25 million disbursement is known as Direct Care Assistance and represents the majority of financial assistance distributed by the NRRO. Religious communities combine this assistance with their own income and savings to help meet such day-to-day expenses as prescription medications and nursing care. Additional funding will be allocated through other NRRO programs in the coming months.

Catholic bishops of the U.S. launched the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988 to address the significant lack of retirement funding among the nation’s religious communities. 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. Today, many religious communities lack adequate retirement savings.

Despite ongoing generosity to the annual appeal, hundreds of religious communities struggle to provide for older members. Recognizing the ongoing need, U.S. bishops voted to renew the collection, which was previously set to end this year.

The NRRO coordinates the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection and distributes the proceeds to eligible religious communities. It also offers educational programming, services and resources that enable religious communities to evaluate and prepare for long-term retirement needs. The NRRO is sponsored by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.