WASHINGTON ― At its May meeting, the board of directors for SOAR! – Support Our Aging Religious ― approved $1.3 million in grants to assist aging Catholic sisters, brothers and priests in religious orders.
These grants will be distributed to 74 Catholic religious congregations of men and women in 17 states and the District of Columbia; they will benefit 9036 senior men and women religious. The grants total $1,302,235.
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. These grants include necessities such as:
- a $16,000 grant for the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit in Los Angeles to install a stairlift in their retirement home for their aging sisters, who are unable to safely climb the stairs to their rooms;
- a $25,000 grant for the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore to purchase an accessible van so that the sisters, many of whom are in wheelchairs or use walkers, can safely travel to doctor’s appointments and occasional outings.
“It gives me great joy to report to our benefactors how their donations are making a difference in the lives of our aging religious men and women,” said SOAR! president Sister Kathleen Lunsmann, IHM.
“Together with our benefactors, SOAR! hit our highest level of annual grant awards. It is only with the generosity of our donors that we are able to assist aging religious with $1.3 million in support this year.”
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.