‘Auntie Sister’ among inspirations for religious retirement fund gifts

| Susan Klemond | October 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

From left, Jennifer Soucheray, Sister Jennifer Rausch of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Brother Dominic Michael Hart of the Franciscan Brothers of Peace talk during a meeting of the Retirement Fund for Religious advisory board Oct. 16. DAVE HRBACEK | THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT

Benedictine sister’s witness of faith and love made a lasting impression on Amy Tadlock, who was inspired last year to “pay forward” the blessing by assisting other religious with their retirement costs.

Tadlock, a judge for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Tribunal, which assists Archbishop Bernard Hebda with the application of canon law, fondly remembers her great aunt Benedictine Sister DePaul Chamberlain, whom she called “Auntie Sister.” On visits to Tadlock’s Chicago-area family home from St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Sister DePaul, a grade school teacher, sometimes brought special gifts.

“One thing I’ve come to appreciate as I’ve gotten older is the role religious play in the life of the Church,” said Tadlock, a parishioner of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. “I look back on my own life and recognize just the simple ways that my great aunt was involved in our lives.”

Tadlock honored her now-deceased relative by contributing to the Retirement Fund for Religious, a national fund that helps religious sisters, brothers and priests meet their retirement needs. She plans to contribute again to this year’s special collection, which will be held in most parishes during Dec. 7-8.

Like Tadlock, Catholics who want to honor a member of a religious community who impacted their life — or who simply wish to show their appreciation for the contributions of all religious — can donate to help communities with their retirement costs, including health care and financial planning, said School Sister of Notre Dame Lynore Girmscheid, 73, who coordinates the fund in the archdiocese.

Last year, most of the nearly $28 million raised nationwide helped 30,000 elderly religious in 360 communities, according to the fund’s administrator, the U.S. bishops’ National Religious Retirement Office in Washington, D.C.

The fund is needed because some religious didn’t receive adequate compensation for their work, or the opportunity to prepare for retirement, particularly before the 1970s. Many are retired now, health care is increasingly expensive and there are fewer members of religious orders to provide help.

U.S. religious communities, which are financially responsible for their own members’ support and care, face a possible $9.8 billion deficit in retirement costs by 2034, according to the NRRO. Of 542 religious communities providing data to the NRRO, only 33 are adequately funded for retirement. At the same time, the cost of care for U.S. religious of retirement age exceeds $1 billion annually.

Since the fund was established in 1988, U.S. Catholics have contributed more than $844 million. Last year, the archdiocese raised more than $667,400, including a one-time gift of more than $141,000 that arrived too late to be counted in the 2017 collection. The archdiocese’s 2018 collection was among the largest in the country.

One reason for the large collection is the number of religious communities serving here, said Sister Lynore, who’s been a religious sister for 53 years. “People know they have received from these religious,” she said.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame, many of whom taught in Catholic schools, received as little as $100 a month in stipends for living expenses, and they weren’t part of the Social Security system until the 1970s, Sister Lynore said.

Sister Judy Bakula, a School Sister of Notre Dame for 58 years, was a Catholic school teacher and administrator in and outside of the archdiocese until 1994. “We didn’t get anything to start building retirement,” she said. “We went many years without having help with that.”

At 79, Sister Judy works as a receptionist and volunteer coordinator at Learning in Style, a Minneapolis-based ministry serving immigrants. She plans to do paid or volunteer work as long as she can — a goal other community members share. Her earnings go to the order’s own central fund to support her and other sisters no longer in paid positions.

“I know that by working I am also contributing to our future, to our retirement, to the time when I’ll be there,” said Sister Judy, adding that she also appreciates the national fund’s help.

Religious communities apply for the grants demonstrating their level of need through the national office, Sister Lynore said. In addition to direct care, communities can request funds for retirement education and planning.

Along with the parish collection, Sister Lynore encourages Catholics with estate plans to consider including the fund.

Many Catholics aren’t aware of the need and the collection is a way to evangelize, she said.

“I think for us to say to others, this is our need now,” Sister Lynore said. “We continue to contribute as we can, but we’d like to give you an opportunity to help in our need, like we have helped you in yours.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Featured, Local News