Supporting retired religious a sign of affection, appreciation

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | December 7, 2016
Archbishop Bernard Hebda

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

I always enjoy bringing guests from out of town to visit our Cathedral. As we step through the front doors, there’s always that “wow moment” when they have the first opportunity to take in the confident vision of Archbishop John Ireland, the brilliance of Emmanuel Louis Masqueray and the generosity of the faithful of this Archdiocese all at once. The Cathedral — strong, enduring, instructive and inviting — intentionally symbolizes and embodies this local Church.

It’s in that context that the magnificent chapel of St. Joseph, immediately to the right as we enter the Cathedral, takes on special significance for me. A gift to the archdiocese from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the chapel serves as a daily reminder for me of the much broader contribution that has been made to this archdiocese through the ministry of successive generations of sisters, brothers and religious priests.

It might sound a bit macabre, but I love walking through cemeteries. I have found Calvary in St. Paul and Resurrection in Mendota Heights to be places of great peace that not only help me to focus on our heavenly finish line, but also to recall how the Lord has concretely made his love known in this local Church. I find myself drawn in particular to the hundreds of simple monuments that mark the graves of the sisters, brothers and religious order priests who poured themselves out to make sure that the tenets of our faith would be shared, that our children would have an encounter with Christ in the sacraments, that our sick would have an experience of the healing presence of Christ, that our poor would be fed, that our weak would be defended, and that our immigrants would be welcomed and empowered.

Blessings and challenges

Here in the archdiocese, we continue to be blessed by the presence of so many religious. As is true throughout our country, however, many of those religious who continue to witness in our midst to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience are in need of our help. Having selflessly served and sacrificed for the good of the Church, the senior members of our religious communities — having worked for years for small stipends — now find that they are unable to meet the rising costs associated with health care. (See related story on page 13.)

While our religious communities are committed to providing their senior members with the care and quality of life they need and deserve, most are finding it impossible to do so. By the year 2026, the number of religious over the age of 70 will outnumber those under the age of 70 by 400 percent.

To help address this situation, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops instituted an annual collection for retired religious. The response has been phenomenal, particularly here in the Archdiocese. In 2015, the national office was able to distribute $25.6 million to 395 religious communities for the direct care of senior members. Additional funding was allocated for education, consultation and resources that enable religious communities to plan more effectively for retirement.

Unfortunately, the need for additional help continues, and far too many religious communities are continuing to struggle to provide a modest, safe retirement for aging members. Eldercare costs continue to rise while the number of religious requiring care grows. By an overwhelming majority, the U.S. bishops just voted to extend the collection for another 10 years.

When I counted my blessings this Thanksgiving, I was particularly mindful of the sisters, brothers and religious order priests who taught me in elementary school, high school and in my seminary years. They were not only superb educators, they were also lasting role models. While I would not attribute to them any of my faults or shortcomings, I know that they deserve credit for whatever I have been able to accomplish. As we prepare for the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection in the parishes of this archdiocese, I invite you to engage in a similar reflection and to be as generous as possible in supporting these remarkable women and men who so obviously deserve our gratitude and support.

Apoyando a religiosos jubilados, una señal de afecto y aprecio



Category: Only Jesus

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