Support Our Aging Religious, Inc. (SOAR!) is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization which raises funds and provides grants to help Catholic religious congregations in the United States care for their aging members. These grants address practical immediate needs such as renovations for accessibility, automatic doors, hospital beds and assistive devices. This assistance ensures the safety, peace of mind, and dignity of aging Sisters, Brothers and Priests.
The mission of SOAR! is to:
- raise and provide funds for Catholic religious congregations to meet the immediate needs of their retired and infirm members;
- educate the public about the serious retirement needs confronting elderly religious; and
- develop a national network of concerned individuals who wish to respond to this need.
The mission of SOAR! brings together people from all religious denominations whose lives have been touched by the unparalleled contributions of Catholic Sisters, Brothers and Priests.
While congregations strive to care for their elderly and infirm members, their needs are critical. According to the National Religious Retirement Office, the percentage of communities of religious with a median age of 70 or higher is actually 70% today. Religious past age 70 outnumber religious under age 70 by nearly three to one.
Through the generosity of its donors, SOAR! supports the efforts of the institutional Church by distributing grants to congregations across the United States. These grants help ensure the safety, comfort and dignity of our aging religious.
You can also read more about the difference between SOAR! and the Retirement Fund for Religious here.
The economic crisis facing elderly religious in the United States today is the result of the following realities:
- the dramatic rise in the median age of religious due to a drop in younger members;
- insufficient funds to care for elderly members (many religious received modest stipends or no compensation, and there were often no community provisions for retirement); and
- the exponential rise in the cost of health care.
An article in the Wall Street Journal first exposed the severity of the problem in the spring of 1986 and caused an outpouring of public concern.
The article was written by John Fialka and based on the research of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA). John Fialka and FADICA’s Frank Butler saw the potential to establish a national network of donors. While they made plans, the advice of John Wheeler, a founding chairman of Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD), proved invaluable.
Support Our Aging Religious, Inc. (SOAR!) was officially formed in the summer of 1986 after a meeting at Trinity College in Washington, DC.