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Most of us have wonderful memories of sisters. They taught in schools and religious education programs. They were nurses and administrators in health care facilities. Sisters and their religious communities, responsive to the needs of the times, have always been involved in ministries of caring for others. Many of the social service agencies under the umbrella of the Archdiocese have their origins in religious communities of women. Over the years the Archdiocese of Boston has been blessed with the presence of religious communities of sisters who have given of themselves untiringly to the pastoral needs of the Church and the faithful. Generations of Catholics are the beneficiaries of the dedicated service of the sisters.
These same sisters are now at the age of retirement. Many years ago retirement planning was not a consideration. Sisters invested all available financial resources in their ministries. Today religious communities of sisters continue to support these ministries.
The health care needs of retired sisters are a priority. Religious were not allowed to enter the Social Security System until 1972. Consequently, the retirement benefits the sisters now receive are significantly less than the average social security benefit for women of comparable age and years of work experience. As autonomous organizations, religious communities are responsible for health and retirement expenses of each sister. Religious communities take this responsibility very seriously. Most sisters feel a deep discomfort with an appeal on their behalf. They prefer to keep their need hidden and trust that God will provide.
Although many sisters have retired from ministries that provide compensation to their religious communities, they continue in volunteer ministries as tutors, visitors to the sick and support staff in schools and health care facilities. The sisters pray continually for all who have been part of their lives and take delight in hearing from former students and those whom they have served over the years.
On the weekend of Nov. 21-22 please be generous in your support for the Collection for Retired Sisters. There can be no simple accounting of the contribution that the sisters have made and continue to make to the life of the Church of Boston.
Sister Marian Batho, CSJ, is the Delegate for Religious of the Archdiocese of Boston.