GREEN BAY — The annual retirement collection to support the needs of sisters, brothers and priests will be held in local parishes the weekend of Dec. 10-11. The appeal includes both the Diocesan Priests’ Retirement and the National Retirement Fund for Religious.
Retirement needs are climbing. Some retired sisters, brothers and priests lack sufficient income for their needs. Today, there are more than 34,000 members of religious orders in the United States over the age of 70.
In the Diocese of Green Bay, approximately 85 senior priests receive retirement benefits.
According to Franciscan Sr. Louise Hembrecht, diocesan representative for religious, there are 269 religious women over the age of 70 living in the three motherhouses in the diocese. Additionally, Sr. Louise estimates there are another 60 to 65 sisters over age 70, from other religious communities, living and working in the diocese.
The majority of Green Bay diocesan priests are over the age 70. Those who are able, continue to serve sacramentally in parishes. The average retired diocesan priest receives $1,330 per month from the priest’s pension fund (the Leo Benevolent Association).
“Through the years, so many of us have been touched by the faithful witness of many sisters, brothers and priests through our Catholic schools, hospitals and parishes,” said Fr. Tom Long, Vicar for Clergy and Pastoral Leaders for the Diocese of Green Bay. “So many served with great devotion and dedication, but received little financial compensation in return. Now, in recent years, we have the opportunity to thank them for their great service. Even in their elder years, they continue to inspire and challenge all of us to deepen our faith and our commitment to serve those most in need. Our support of them allows this witness to continue.”
Nationally, by 2022, retired religious men and women are projected to outnumber wage-earning religious by nearly four to one. The national collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious began in 1988. Since its inception, Catholics around the country have donated nearly $750 million. Continued help is needed to supplement the fund over the next 20 years.
Last year, people in the Diocese of Green Bay donated $214,560 to the National Retirement Fund for Religious and $198,356 to the Diocesan Priests’ Retirement.
Again this year, people are able to donate to one or both causes. A collection will be taken at local parishes the weekend of Dec. 10-11, or a gift may be made through the Catholic Foundation online at www.catholicfoundationgb.org/give.