GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — At its 30th anniversary awards dinner on May 7, Support Our Aging Religious — or SOAR! — honored Trudy Mazzarella and the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Orange and raised money to support aging Catholic sisters, brothers and priests.

The dinner, held at Christ Cathedral Cultural Center in Garden Grove, brought together nearly 150 people to support the mission of SOAR!, which ensures the safety, comfort and dignity of aging religious.

Trudy Mazzarella, the director of tour ministry at Christ Cathedral and president emeritus of Rosary Academy in Fullerton, California, received the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for her leadership in the Catholic community.

“I want you to know that I am accepting (this award) in tribute to all the wonderful women religious throughout the course of the journey of my life who have educated me, formed me, mentored me, walked with me and helped me to be the person I am today,” she said.

Sister Jayne Helmlinger, president of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Orange, accepted the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Award on behalf of her congregation. The Sisters, who were established in California in 1912, serve their community in a variety of ministries.

“Whether we are in education, healthcare, parishes, social justice, advocacy, formation, or walking with people in their spiritual journeys, our goal is this: We live and work so that all people may be united with God and with one another,” Sister Jayne said. “Our mission is rooted in the mission of Christ, that all may be one.”

SOAR! awards grants to Catholic religious communities to meet the immediate needs of their retired and infirm members. SOAR! raises money for practical needs such as hospital beds, building renovations for handicap accessibility and upgrades to fire alarms.

The need to support retired religious persists now more than ever. Projections show that by 2020 the number of religious sisters, brothers and priests past age 70 will outnumber those younger than them by four to one. Many elderly religious worked for years for small stipends, and their communities do not have the savings necessary to support the cost of retirement and healthcare.

SOAR! was founded in 1986 by a committed group of lay people to raise funds and awareness of the needs of aging and retired religious. SOAR! brings together people of all religious denominations whose lives have been touched by the unparalleled contributions of Catholic religious sisters, brothers and priests.