SOAR! awards grants to Chicago religious congregations

The board of directors for SOAR! – Support Our Aging Religious ― has approved $1.3 million in grants to assist aging Catholic sisters, brothers and priests in religious orders. These include five grants in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

These grants will be distributed to 74 Catholic religious congregations of men and women in 17 states and the District of Columbia; they will benefit 9036 senior men and women religious. The grants total $1,302,235.

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 men and women 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.

Grants in the Archdiocese of Chicago include:

• a $16,800 grant for the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago to purchase hospital beds and safe, sturdy new dining chairs for their aging sisters;

• a $15,000 grant for the Sisters of the Living Word in Arlington Heights to install live-streaming technology for their aging sisters, so that they can participate in events and meetings so that they can engage socially and remain a vital part of their community.

In Chicago, the Congregation of the Resurrection, the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus, and the Conventual Franciscan Friars of St. Bonaventure Province also received grants.

“It gives me great joy to report to our benefactors how their donations are making a difference in the lives of our aging religious men and women,” said SOAR! president Sister Kathleen Lunsmann, IHM. “Together with our benefactors, SOAR! hit our highest level of annual grant awards. It is only with the generosity of our donors that we are able to assist aging religious with $1.3 million in support this year.”

The majority of men and women religious lack adequate funding for retirement. Most senior religious worked for little pay, and there were often no community provisions for retirement. Meanwhile, the cost of care continues to rise.

According to the National Religious Retirement Office, the total cost of care in 2016 for women and men religious past age 70 exceeded $1.2 billion.

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