Annual collection for retired priests and religious begins Dec. 12

By Patricia Kasten | The Compass | December 2, 2020

2019 collection raised more than $400,000 to care for needs

ALLOUEZ — Remember that religious sister who taught you in school or religious education? Remember the Franciscan or Capuchin priest who helped at your church?

It’s time for the annual “Share in the Care” collection for retired religious and for the senior priests of the diocese. It will be held in parishes on the weekend of Dec. 12 and 13. Television ads promoting the collection will begin on Sunday, Dec. 6. The Sunday Mass with Bishop David Ricken, broadcast at 10 a.m. on WFRV-TV will also include a presentation on the collection.

The National Religious Retirement Office reports that there are more than 28,000 religious men and women over the age of 70 in the United States. For most of their ministry, they served for little or no pay. Today, their religious communities are responsible for their care and support. The average annual care cost for each of them is nearly $47,000. (For more information, see retiredreligious.org.) Skilled care is roughly $72,000. The total cost of care for senior women and men religious in the United States has exceeded $1 billion annually for each of the last 12 years.

Since the inception of the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988, Catholics around the country have been very generous, and the Diocese of Green Bay has been a national leader in contributions. Last year, the diocese raised a total of $426,136, with $203,752 given to the National Retirement Fund and $222,384 going to the diocesan priests’ retirement fund. This amount is up more than $12,775 from the previous year, according to the Catholic Foundation, which oversees the collection in the diocese.

“It’s wonderful that we are among the top giving dioceses in the country to this retirement fund. It speaks of how generous and supportive Catholics of northeast Wisconsin are,” said Fr. Luke Ferris, vicar for priests and pastoral leaders. “Our retired priests are very appreciative and thankful for the support they continue to receive.”

Since the first national appeal in 1988, $863 million has been distributed to congregations across the nation. Some of these are in the Diocese of Green Bay. Other religious communities based in northeast Wisconsin have themselves made contributions to the fund over the years.

“Many of our lives have been impacted by the faithful and tireless work of sisters, brothers and priests through Catholic parishes, schools and hospitals,” said Fr. Ferris. “After serving with great dedication, but often with little financial compensation, we can now thank our retired sisters, brothers and priests for their lifelong service. Even in their later years, they continue to inspire us and show us what it means to follow Jesus Christ. Our support shows our care and appreciation for them.” 

There are 95 senior priests who receive retirement funds in our diocese, according to the Catholic Foundation. The average priest receives $1,435 from the priests’ pension fund.”

Fr. Ferris himself donates to the fund each year.

“Many of our retired priests have only Social Security and their monthly retirement check to live on,” he told The Compass. “I know one retired priest who has little more money than to pay for his housing costs, medical bills and food. I personally give to this fund because I know some of the sacrifices my parish priests made for me and they have earned our support.”

Parishioners are able to donate to this retirement collection at their parish on the weekend of Dec. 12-13, or a gift may be made through the Catholic Foundation online at catholicfoundationgb.org/give.

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