WASHINGTON ― At its May meeting, the board of directors for SOAR! – Support Our Aging Religious – approved $1.2 million in grants to assist aging Catholic sisters, brothers and priests in religious orders.
These grants will be distributed to 77 Catholic religious congregations of men and women in 21 states and Puerto Rico; they will benefit 8450 senior men and women religious. The grants total $1,244,740.
SOAR! grants assist religious communities in caring for their aging members. They are awarded for specific needs. These grants help ensure the safety and dignity of men and women religious. Because of this assistance, many more Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests will be able to continue to age in place and remain at home with their religious communities. Examples of approved grants are:
- A $16,000 grant will help the Ursuline Sisters of the Eastern Province to install air-conditioning at their residence for elderly Sisters in New Rochelle, New York.
- A $25,000 grant will allow monks to replace the 40-year-old, leaking roof of the senior wing at the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, California.
“Religious men and women need our help, and they need it today,” said SOAR! president Sister Kathleen Lunsmann, who is an Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister.
“When a congregation superior calls to say thank you for receiving a check from SOAR!, what I often hear next is ‘We are placing the order today,’ whether that order is for new mattresses, a stair lift, a therapy tub or even new recliners. The need to assist aging religious is urgent.”
The majority of men and women religious lack adequate funding for retirement. Most senior religious worked for little pay, and there were often no community provisions for retirement. Meanwhile, the cost of care continues to rise. According to the National Religious Retirement Office, the total cost of care in 2016 for women and men religious past age 70 exceeded $1.2 billion.