By Christina Galeone
Is there room for Jesus – and his followers – in your inn?
This weekend, Dec. 10-11, the National Religious Retirement Office will give parishioners in the Diocese of Worcester the chance to be the “innkeepers” who make that decision to have a positive, life-enhancing impact on the lives of senior religious.
The funds received in the annual collection will help many of Christ’s dedicated servants who are now vulnerable. The 2015 special collection benefited four religious institutes in and near the Worcester Diocese.
The NRRO’s Retirement Fund for Religious helps many senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests who have worked tirelessly for most of their lives to bring Christ’s compassion to people throughout the world.
The Retirement Fund for Religious collection was established in 1983 and is administered by the NRRO. Because, in the past, many religious sacrificed the ability to save for retirement by working for Catholic hospitals, schools and agencies for low-income wages, and because the cost of healthcare has increased greatly, many religious orders are unprepared for the cost of caring for their senior members. And with senior members outnumbering younger ones, the problem is expected to grow. According to a 2016 Mercer actuarial study commissioned by the NRRO, by 2034, national religious institutes will most likely face a $9.8 billion retirement deficit.
Fortunately, the fund has been making a difference in the lives of women and men religious nationally and locally. The local religious institutes helped include Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Saint Mary’s Monastery in Petersham, Saint Scholastica Priory in Petersham and the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Holyoke. The fund helped senior religious subsidize the cost of prescription medications, home healthcare and other necessities.
At St. Scholastica Priory, those necessities included the installation of an elevator in a three-story building. That increased accessibility has deeply impacted the lives of the priory’s senior members. Without it Mother Mary Elizabeth Kloss, O.S.B., the prioress at St. Scholastica, said that some of them would have had to leave. Now, she said, they