This year SOAR! (Support Our Aging Religious) awarded $1.2 million to 70 religious congregations to assist aging Catholic sisters, brothers and priests. These grants will be distributed to 70 Catholic religious congregations of men and women in 18 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico; they will benefit 3,573 men and women religious whose average age is 77. The grants total $1,201,500.
SOAR! grants assist religious communities in caring for their senior members. Grants cover expenses for basic needs such as handrails, hospital beds and emergency call systems.
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. These grants help ensure the safety and dignity of men and women religious.
As the cost of care continues to rise, the majority of men and women religious lack adequate funding for retirement. Meanwhile, the number of religious to support them in the workforce is dropping. A recent study projected that by 2020, religious past age 70 will outnumber those younger than them by four to one.
Recipients in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles include the Benedictine Monks of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, the Daughters of Mary and Joseph in Rancho Palos Verdes, the Guadalupan Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in Los Angeles, and the Sisters of Notre Dame California Province in Thousand Oaks.
These grants funded much-needed projects to support aging religious in the region, such as an emergency grant for hospital beds for the Guadalupan Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, and a grant for an HVAC unit at St. Andrew’s Abbey, so that sick and elderly monks have heating and air conditioning.
SOAR! was formed in 1986 by a group of concerned lay people to help ensure the financial stability of Catholic religious congregations in the care of their elderly and infirm members. In the past 30 years, SOAR! has awarded 1187 grants, totaling more than $17 million, to congregations across the country.
“Serving on the grant committee is a joy. Religious communities of women and men have dedicated their lives to serving others, and now we have the privilege of responding to that great gift by assisting them to meet the challenges of aging,” said SOAR! board member Kathy Curran, the chair of the grants committee.
“We are only able to do that of course because of our many generous donors, who we are representing as we meet to review and award grants. We take that responsibility very seriously. Our only regret is that we are not able to meet the needs of all the congregations that apply.”
The organization is separate from the annual retirement collection coordinated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.soar-usa.org.