WASHINGTON ― The board of directorsfor SOAR! – Support Our Aging Religious ― has approved more than $1.7million in grants to assist aging Catholic sisters, brothers and priests in religious orders.   

These grants will be distributed to91Catholic religious congregations of men and women in 21 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico; they will benefit 8074 senior men and women religious. The grants total $1,768,374. 

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 women and men 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.  

The funds also included rapid response grants to support religious communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“I am so thankful to the benefactors of SOAR! who support this important work of caring for our aging religious,” said SOAR! president Sister Kathleen Lunsmann, IHM. “For 35 years, our organization has provided financial assistance, and I pray our mission will continue long into the future. Religious men and women spend their lives in service to others. Now it is time for us to care for them.”  

“Because of our many generous donors, SOAR! can be a source of hope and help to congregations of women and men religious,” said Stephanie Marcantonio, chairperson of the SOAR! board. “As we celebrate our 35th anniversary, we give thanks for the work of these aging women and men religious and for our faithful donors.” 

As the cost of care continues to rise, many congregations of women and men religious lack adequate funding for retirement. Meanwhile, the number of religious to support them in the workforce is dropping.  Today, religious past age 70 outnumber religious under age 70 by nearly three to one. 

SOAR! – which marks its 35th anniversary in August – was formed in 1986 by a group of concerned lay people to help Catholic religious congregations in the care of their elderly and infirm members. The organization is separate from the annual retirement collection coordinated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.