Parishioners and community members in the Diocese of Portland will have the opportunity to give to those who have given a lifetime the weekend of Dec. 12 and 13. A special collection will be held during all Masses in Maine churches for the Retirement Fund for Religious. The fund benefits more than 30,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests, according to a news release from Dave Guthro, communications director, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

“Like the universal Church, our Church in Maine has been touched by the many women and men in religious life who have offered prayers for the people of the diocese and ministered to all in education, healthcare, social services, pastoral ministry and religious education within parishes, healthcare facilities, schools, and social service agencies,” said Bishop Robert Deeley, according to the release. “I want to express my profound thanks to them for responding to the call of the Lord to serve the Church and encourage all who are able to contribute to this important fund.”

Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits. Today, hundreds of religious communities lack sufficient retirement savings. COVID-19 has compounded this already difficult situation.

“Donations to the Retirement Fund for Religious have a far-reaching impact,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, the executive director of the National Religious Retirement Office, according to the release. “Most importantly, they help communities care for aging members, but they also underwrite initiatives aimed at addressing the underlying causes of the funding shortages.”

Communities utilize these funds to bolster retirement savings and subsidize expenses, such as prescription medications and nursing care; promote collaborative care facilities; cultivate strategic partnerships with providers of healthcare; and generate numerous cost-saving measures.

Catholic bishops of the U.S. initiated the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988. Since the launch of the collection, U.S. Catholics have donated more than $900 million to the annual appeal.

For more information about the collection or the NRRO, visit retiredreligious.org.

filed under: