Last Sunday all parishes in the nation took up the Retirement for Religious Fund collection. “Thank you for accompanying us as we care for our elder sisters,” writes a religious superior. Your gift to last week’s collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious helps support nearly 34,000 sisters, brothers, and religious order priests past the age of seventy.
For example: the members of the Congregation of Divine Providence of Melbourne, Kentucky featured in the campaign; the sisters of this religious community have reason to smile. Financial and consultative support, made possible by the RFR, have enabled this community to develop a long-range retirement strategy that ensures ongoing quality care for elder members while sustaining their ministries to the people of God.
Some of us had the privilege of being taught by a religious sister, brother or priest either in elementary school, high school or in college or university. I have fond memories of the Ursuline sisters that taught in Our Lady of Loretto school in Novato as well as other schools in northern California. The women came from the local community and served the local community. Our principal, Mother Mary William grew up on a ranch in Marin County, and could easily handle a horse pulling a buggy as well as teach 50 children in a classroom. She was fair, faithful and lived her vocation. She went to God in 1977 after a full life of serving many people, many children through education.
Senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests spent years working in hospitals, schools, and social-service agencies, often for little, if any pay. Their sacrifices now leave their religious communities without adequate savings for retirement and elder care. Your gift to the Retirement Fund for Religious collection helps provide prescription medications, nursing care, and more for thousands of elderly religious.
The religious women and men do not think of themselves as retired when they leave schools, hospitals or social-service agencies; they continue in prayer and service in whatever ways they can minister within the local or national community. Many religious women have taken up the challenge of calling our attention to the great human tragedy, human trafficking.
The United States Bishops, our local bishop, many religious communities of men and women realize many of the inequities in our society, one of which is human trafficking. No one deserves to be indentured, enslaved or deprived of their liberty to pursue financial security for themselves or their family. Religious women taught us to learn the fundamentals of our faith, gave us a foundation to continue our education, and now continuing serving local communities in ways that are true to the charisms of their founders and the spirit of the Gospel. May they show us the way to continue our faith formation today!
Father Larry Hendel, Pastor