The Annual Collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious on the weekend of Nov. 18-19 benefits 32,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests whose religious congregations lack adequate retirement funding.

Last year, the Diocese of Pittsburgh contributed $480,142 to the collection. In 2017, the Benedictine Sisters, Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Augustine, School Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, Sisters of Divine Providence, Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God and Sisters of St. Joseph received a combined total of $680,482 in 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 may also benefit from the annual appeal. Roughly 94 cents of every dollar aids senior religious. Despite this generosity, many religious communities still struggle to provide for aging members.

Only 41 of the 539 communities submitting data to the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) in Washington, D.C., were adequately funded for retirement. Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests—known collectively as religious—served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits.

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.

In addition to providing assistance for day-to-day needs, collection proceeds underwrite initiatives to help religious communities address the factors underlying their retirement shortfalls. These efforts have facilitated solutions such as collaborative care facilities, strategic partnerships with health-care providers and numerous cost-saving measures.

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