November 18-19, 2023
Give generously for the second collection at your local parish during our diocesan appeal in November or give online any time.
Note that the date of the local parish collection may change to accommodate a speaker’s schedule.
Lack of Funds
Of 506 communities providing data to the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), only 31 are adequately funded for retirement. Historically, Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests—known collectively as women and men religious—received very little pay. Any surplus funds were reinvested in ministry and the education of younger members. As a result, hundreds of US religious communities lack adequate retirement savings.
Like many Americans, religious communities face the monumental challenge of funding eldercare. Currently, the average annual cost of care for women and men religious past age 70 is nearly $55,000 per person. Skilled care is roughly $82,700. The total cost of care for senior women and men religious in the United States has exceeded $1 billion annually for each of the last 15 years.
During the early and mid-twentieth centuries, the Catholic Church in the United States experienced a surge in vocations to religious life, with numbers peaking in the mid-1960s. Care for elderly members was provided largely by younger ones. Over time, however, the number of vocations decreased while lifespans increased. The result is far fewer younger members available to support the retirement and eldercare needs of senior members. Currently, 71 percent of the religious communities providing data to the NRRO have a median age of 70 or older.
Sr. Bernadine Janci, SND
A Youngstown native, Sister Bernadine attended Cardinal Mooney High School, where Sisters from four different communities helped her see how positive religious life was.
Looking back, Sister Bernadine said that she has found vocation as a sister most fulfilling. “I’ve always been happy being a sister. I was never homesick.”
Sr. Susanne Gill, HM
Sister Susanne Gill grew up behind North Canton St. Paul Parish, where she attended elementary school and encountered the Humility of Mary Sisters at a young age.
The sisters who taught her made such an impression, she said, that the prospect of joining their religious community remained with her even as she progressed to high school.
“I never lost contact with the sisters throughout my high school years at North Canton [now Hoover] High School,” Sister Susanne said. “God spoke to me through the influence of these dedicated sisters and through my love for the Eucharist.”
Sr. Karen Lindenberger, OSF
Sister Karen Lindenberger started thinking about religious life in sixth grade because she wanted to help people – especially the poor.
“Back then, sisters talked about religious life and we watched movies about being missionaries in faraway places,” said Sister Karen, 78, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Tiffin, Ohio. “That is what I wanted – to help the poor but also to experience different cultures.”
The most important way to help senior religious is to ask God to bless and provide for those who have faithfully served our Church and world. Please also pray for the success of the November collection and know that women and men religious across the diocese hold in prayerful gratitude all those whose sacrifices make the Retirement Fund for Religious possible.
Educate yourself on the factors contributing to the retirement-funding shortage.
During the diocesan appeal on November 18-19, 2023, share a photo or story in gratitude for a sister, brother, or religious order priest who influenced you.
Consider volunteering to give a testimonial at your local parish during the diocesan appeal in November. For assistance, please contact Sr. Joyce Candidi, Director of the Office of Vowed Religious at email@example.com or (330) 744-8451 x238.