WASHINGTON – Support Our Aging Religious (SOAR!) has initiated a grant program to support communities of Catholic Sisters, Brothers and Priests affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The new COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program is funded by the generosity of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the support of SOAR! donors. 

This program is set up to help SOAR!  quickly provide funds to address the needs of those suffering from the virus, their caretakers, and aging religious impacted by social isolation. 

“In the midst of the social isolation needed in convents, monasteries and abbeys, women and men religious are continuing to pray for all those impacted by the pandemic,” said SOAR! President Sister Kathleen Lunsmann, IHM. “SOAR! wants to help keep our aging religious safe and healthy. Meeting the immediate needs of aging religious is at the heart of the mission of SOAR!. 

In the most recent report from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) on the demographic trends among Catholic Sisters in the U.S., 70 percent of Catholic Sisters in the United States were older than 65.  

The fact that the majority of Catholic Sisters are in the age range considered “high risk” is, in the face of COVID-19, a difficult and concerning reality.  

SOAR! is prioritizing grants to congregations facing an immediate life-endangering threat, with few or no other means of support; and to congregations with an average age of 70 years or older. 


The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help individuals throughout the world living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage. In his will, Conrad N. Hilton specifically calls for the Foundation to “give aid to… the Sisters, who devote their love and life’s work for the good of mankind”.  The Catholic Sisters Initiative was created in 2012 to implement this vision through strategic grant making that supports Catholic sisters and reinforces their efforts to alleviate suffering among those in need around the globe. 

The Foundation invests in 11 program areas, including providing access to safe water, supporting transition-age foster youth, ending chronic homelessness, hospitality workforce development, disaster relief and recovery, helping young children affected by HIV and AIDS, and supporting the work of Catholic sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.8 billion in grants, distributing $110 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2019.  

Foundation assets increased from approximately $2.9 billion to $6.6 billion following the 2019 passing of Barron Hilton who, like his father, pledged virtually his entire estate to the Foundation. For more information, please visit www.hiltonfoundation.org.