“The generosity of parishioners in all our parishes has been unparalleled,” said Sr. Florence Youngwirth, diocesan representative for religious. “It would be easy to assume that the need has diminished, but it has not. The ongoing decrease in the number of religious in compensated ministry, coupled with the ever-rising cost of care, make it a struggle for religious communities to provide for elder members.”
She added that the annual collection benefits religious communities in two ways: “It supports the day-to-day care of thousands of senior religious and it offers funding to help religious institutes implement long-term retirement strategies.”
This year, the Diocese of Green Bay is also conducting a simultaneous collection for the retired priests of the diocese. The national Retirement Fund for Religious does not provide financial support to diocesan priests, only religious order priests. However, many priests are in need of funds in their retirement, so Bishop David Ricken decided to allow donors to also contribute to a fund for diocesan priests handled through the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Green Bay.
In the Green Bay Diocese, there are 83 senior priests who are technically retired from parish assignment but who often serve around the diocese celebrating Masses and the other sacraments.
Fr. Tom Long, diocesan vicar for priests, said he asks Catholics to once again be generous to both collections and with prayers “in thanksgiving for all that our senior diocesan priests and religious have done.”
“Our diocesan priests have been sharing the sacraments with our families in parishes for generations,” he added, noting that the diocesan pension fund for priests is significantly underfunded.
“Though fewer in number, religious women and men and diocesan priests still serve in these traditional ministries and in many other works that care for the least and the forgotten among us,” he said. “But their years of selfless service have left many without adequate savings for the retirement and elder-care needs of senior members.”
Parishioners can donate at their local parishes this weekend or make a gift through the Catholic Foundation online at www.catholicfoundationgb.org/give.