The Diocese of Scranton will hold the Retirement Fund for Religious collection Dec. 9-10. The parish-based appeal is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) in Washington, D.C. Proceeds help religious communities across the country to care for aging members.

Last year, the Diocese of Scranton donated more than $72,800 to the collection.

“We are privileged to support those who have dedicated their lives to tireless service,” NRRO Executive Director John Knutsen said. “We are immensely grateful for the continuing generosity of U.S. Catholic donors to this vital cause.”

Hundreds of U.S. religious communities face a large gap between the needs of their older members and the funds available to support them.

Historically, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests — known collectively as women and men religious — served for little to no pay. As a result, many communities now lack adequate retirement savings.

At the same time, health-care expenses continue to rise, and an increasing number of older religious require specialized services. NRRO data show that nearly 25,000 women and men religious in the United States are older than age 70. The total cost for their care exceeds $1 billion annually.

To help address the deficit in retirement funding among U.S. religious orders, Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the Retirement Fund for Religious collection in 1988.

Distributions are sent to each eligible order’s central house and provide supplemental funding for necessities, such as medications and nursing care. Donations also underwrite resources that help religious communities improve eldercare and plan for long-term retirement needs.

The 2022 appeal raised $27.6 million, with funding distributed to 297 U.S. religious communities.