Retirement Fund for Religious Growing

WASHINGTON, NOV. 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The appeal for the Retirement Fund for Religious , now in its 17th year, has generated a greater response than any annual appeal in U.S. Catholic Church history, according to the U.S. bishop’s conference.

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The more than $440 million that the appeal has raised helps to ensure appropriate care for almost 40,000 Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests who are now past age 70.

The crisis in unfunded retirement became evident in the early 1970s. Catholic schools, sponsored and operated primarily by religious orders, were educating more than 10 percent of the student population in the United States. Catholic hospitals were becoming the largest group of not-for-profit hospitals in the nation. Retirement funds, however, for elderly religious was not even considered.

After recognizing that younger generations of religious would no longer be able to care for the elderly in their congregations, church officials launched the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988. The National Religious Retirement Office, which sponsors the appeal, has distributed more than 96 percent of donations as grants to religious institutes. Special grant awards are used to meet emergency needs and to fund projects aimed at cost-cutting.

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