Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
May God bless you! This weekend our parishes will be conducting the Retirement Fund for Religious collection. This annual appeal benefits some 33,000 senior Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests — women and men who have consecrated their lives to serving God and the Church.
During this Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis calls on the faithful to recognize the special witness that consecrated women and men offer our Church and world. In a letter marking the inauguration of this special year, he says, “I ask the whole Christian people to be increasingly aware of the gift which is the presence of our many consecrated men and women” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to all Consecrated People, November 21, 2015). He goes on to note the spiritual influence that religious, such as St. Benedict and St. Teresa of Avila, continue to have on our Church and faith today.
As we reflect on the saints of the past, many of us may also recall women and men religious whom we would consider saints in our day. With gratitude, we remember the sister who patiently helped us learn our multiplication tables or the brother who coached our high school team, teaching us that faith must be lived out in all areas of life.
Today, many of these sisters, brothers, and religious order priests — these saints in our midst — are elderly. While some continue in volunteer ministry, others are frail and need care. Most worked for years for small stipends, leaving their religious communities without adequate savings to meet growing retirement and elder-care needs.
Please join with Pope Francis in acknowledging the gift of consecrated life by praying for God’s blessing on all religious and giving generously to the Retirement Fund for Religious.
You and your family are in my prayers.
Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
Archbishop of Louisville