Local Religious life

Retirement Fund for Religious collection set for the weekend of Dec. 9 and 10

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas will participate in the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection the weekend of Dec. 9-10.

by Moira Cullings
moira.cullings@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — They’ve spent their lives serving others.

Now, Catholics have the opportunity to give back to men and women religious as they enter their retirement years.

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas will participate in the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection the weekend of Dec. 9-10.

“Religious women and men take a vow of poverty,” said John Knutsen, “and, for most of their lives, elder religious worked for little to no pay.”

Knutsen, the director of the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), said these men and women didn’t have 401(k) plans or pensions, and their work was typically rewarded modestly.

“Religious never really retire,” he added. “Many are still very active in ministry long after they no longer receive wages of any kind.”

The archdiocese, said Knutsen, “has consistently been a strong supporter of the Retirement Fund for Religious, and we are so grateful for the generosity of the faithful there.”

Last year, parishioners contributed $115,759 to the archdiocesan collection.  The monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison and the Servants of Mary Ministers to the Sick in Kansas City, Kansas, received a combined total of $181,918 from the fund.

The national collection raised $27.6 million in total, said Knutsen, and $25 million was distributed to nearly 300 religious communities.

“Since it began [in 1988], the fund has distributed about $945 million in direct care assistance to religious institutes,” said Knutsen. “They can use this funding for immediate retirement expenses or invest it for future needs.

“Our hope is that through this assistance, the percentage of communities adequately funded for retirement will increase as more of them close the gap between the needs of their elder members and the funds they have to support them.”

The need for support is great.

“In 2022, 71 percent of the communities providing data to the National Religious Retirement Office had a median age of 70 or higher,” said Knutsen.

“We’re living longer today,” he added, “and the cost of health care keeps rising, so it places a lot of pressure on religious communities.”

Knutsen hopes many will consider giving back to the men and women religious who spend their lives serving others.

“These communities,” he said, “were pioneers in building Catholic schools, hospitals and so many other ministries in this country.

“They have been, and continue to be, on the front lines in so many ways, serving everyone, and they deserve to be cared for in their elder years.”

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage the website, social media channels and Archbishop Naumann's Facebook page. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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