Washington, DC – February 22, 2010 – At the winter meeting of the SOAR! board of directors, members approved 44 grants for a total of $3/4 million to 44 religious congregations of women and men in 17 states. These grants will benefit almost 3,000 women and men religious at a median age of 79.

The SOAR! board of directors and staff and the grant recipients are deeply grateful to all SOAR! contributors for making the grants possible, especially during this time of financial strain. Our heart-felt gratitude increased as donations arrived during a time when so many individuals, families, and businesses were and remain affected by the credit crunch, loss of stock market value, vanishing home equity, and the long and deep recession.

The SOAR! grants will assist religious congregations in need of very basic help–the purchase of therapeutic equipment, the renovation of space for handicapped accessibility and structural safety, and the installation of fire alarm and wander guard systems. Through this fundamental assistance many more women and men religious live out the last years of their lives in dignity, safety, and with modest care.

The severity of need among religious congregations cannot be overstated. According to recent studies, the total under-funded retirement liability for religious congregations is more than $11.8 billion. In addition to this shortfall, many religious congregations have limited capacity to build up resources to care for their elderly and infirm members. The current average annual Social security benefit for religious is $4,154 compared to $13,836 for lay recipients.

As religious women and men age in place, their ministries may change. They never, however, retire from their commitment to mission. Even the eldest and most frail members continue to serve others through their prayers and by offering up their illness and pain as silent prayers for benefactors, the Church, and the world. They long to continue their ministry and to live out the last days of their lives with dignity and in peace.

SOAR! was formed in 1986 to help ensure financial stability of Catholic religious congregations in the care of their elderly and infirm members. In its 24-year history, SOAR! has awarded 900 grants, totaling more than $9 million, to congregations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. All contributions, ranging from the “widow’s mite” to the philanthropist’s gift, are leveraged to make the grants possible.

The organization is separate from the annual retirement collection coordinated by the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since 1988, when the bishops started the retirement collection, Catholics around the country have helped in the distribution of more than $550 million in grants to congregations in need.

SOAR! is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to assuring financially stable and personally secure futures for elderly and frail members of Catholic religious congregations in the United States, augmenting the efforts of the institutional Church.


For more information, please contact Deborah Hudson Vornbrock at 202.529.7627 or

900 Varnum Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017