By Anne Marie Amacher
Two religious congregations whose motherhouses are located in the Diocese of Davenport benefited from the annual Retirement Fund for Religious earlier this year. Those funds are thanks to contributions by Catholics throughout the United States — including those from the diocese.
The annual collection, with the theme “Share in the Care,” will be held this weekend Dec. 12-13.
According to the National Religious Retirement Office in Washington, D.C., the Congregation of the Humility of Mary based in Davenport and Queen of Heaven Carmelite Monastery based in Eldridge received a combined total of $90,366.23.
Sister Lynne Therese Elwinger, OCD, prioress of the Carmelites, said 10 Sisters belong to the congregation. “Six of us are over 65 years.”
Although it is a process to apply for financial assistance, she said, “It’s worth it.”
The congregation received about $6,000 this year which goes toward medical care, one Sister’s care in a nursing home and other household expenses.
Carmelite Sister Mary Jo Loebig handles the application paperwork every year and said, “We are very grateful (for the financial assistance).”
The Congregation of the Humility of Mary received about $86,000, which assists Sisters at the Humility of Mary Center in Davenport, Bishop Drumm Center in Johnston, and elsewhere.
Sister Marcia Eckerman, CHM, diocesan coordinator for the Retirement Fund for Religious, said the Diocese of Davenport contributed $80,236.30 in 2008. “This diocese has given well for a number of years.”
She noted that throughout the years, men and women religious invested their time in the faith and future of others. They had little concern for self.
The National Retirement Fund for Religious notes that, historically, religious worked for small stipends with surplus income reinvested in their ministries, such as schools and social service agencies. Retirement was not a priority in the past when young members were able to care for older ones. The number of elderly religious has begun to outnumber the number of younger religious.
That is why the fund was established in 1988 and has been “the most successful campaign in the history of the church in the United States,” said Sister Janice Bader, a Sister of the Most Precious Blood of O’Fallon, Mo., and National Religious Retirement Office executive director. “This is testimony to the gratitude many feel for the services they have received from religious orders.”
The 2008 collection drew $28.2 million nationwide. About 95 percent of the donations are distributed to support for senior religious care.
From the 2008 appeal, more than $23 million was distributed to 483 religious institutions and an additional $3 million was distributed for assistance to support self-help projects such as collaborative health care facilities initiated by religious institutes.
The National Religious Retirement Office is sponsored by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, along with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.