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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. Religious communities of sisters, responsive to the needs of the times, have always been involved in ministries of outreach to those most in need. 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 more than 100 religious communities of sisters who have given of themselves untiringly to the Church of Boston.
These same sisters are now at the age of retirement. Planning for retirement was not a consideration years ago when they chose to enter religious life. Religious communities invested all their available financial resources in their ministries. Thus stipends and gifts were always reinvested for the care and support of others.
The health care needs of retired sisters have become an important priority. Sisters were not allowed to enter the Social Security System until 1972. Consequently, the retirement benefit the sisters now receive is significantly less than the average Social Security Benefit for women of comparable age and years of work experience. The average Social Security benefit for a sister is $4,400 annually. The average beneficiary of Social Security receives $12,498.
Many sisters feel a deep discomfort with appeals on their behalf. They prefer to keep their need hidden and trust that God will provide. Although sisters have retired from ministries that provide compensation to their religious communities, many continue in volunteer ministries as tutors, visitors to the sick and homebound 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 Dec. 13-14, please remember sisters who have given so much by supporting 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. But we can contribute in some small measure to their well being as they age. Please give generously.
Check The Pilot next week, Dec. 12, for a special look at the lives and vocations of the many religious women serving in the archdiocese.
Sister Marian Batho is the Delegate for Religious for the Archdiocese of Boston.