Sunday, December 02, 2012

Mass Chat: Retirement Fund For Religious

Giving to those who have given a lifetime.

Before Mass began, one of the most beloved nuns ever to serve our parish, Sr. D spoke to us on behalf of retired men and women religious who are in need of our support in their retirement years.  I love Sr. D and she probably doesn't even know who I am.  She is a living icon of charity and kindness, whenever you encounter her, she has a warm, friendly smile and is the epitome of hospitality.  Her talk was as good as any homily.  When finished, she humbly left the sanctuary, and Mass began.  Sr. D is from an order of sisters who no longer wear the habit, and whose congregation has dwindled over the years.  Sister entered in 1960!

As she spoke, I couldn't help but think of 'The Nuns On The Bus' troupe, traveling the country.  I imagine Sr. D knows these women - or at least knows of them and their purpose.  I don't know her position on the issues they champion.  I don't know her spirituality, much less her soul.  I felt sad that people have mocked and condemned the sisters so severely.  I felt worse, thinking that within these congregations of religious women are dedicated, faithful sisters, who sacrificed their lives for Christ and his Church - you and me.  When we condemn these congregations, we condemn the individual religious, some of whom may be saints.

Things have changed, and some orders are dwindling and dying, making way for new congregations to meet the need of our times.  It is like the seed which falls to the ground and dies, only to regenerate.  Let the experts perform the autopsy after they have gone.  In the meantime, it is a work of mercy to care for the aged and infirm.  I hope everyone will forget their politics and remember and support the many elderly nuns, brothers and priests in their retirement years.

As for 'dying' congregations, it remains a work of mercy to bury the dead.  The Church is obliged - you and I - to care for them, by prayer and charitable contributions.

We've got to love one another.

Link:  Retirement Fund for Religious


  1. I agree and disagree with your statement that "when we condemn these congregations, we condemn the individual religious, some of whom may be saints." I disagree that condemning a bad congregation condemns individuals. Case in point, the Jesuits. They are horrendous! There isn't a decent Jesuit university in the country! Most are so actively undermining the faith, they rival Judas. Condemning the Jesuits as a congregation that has abandoned its founder's charism in no way condemns individual Jesuits. And yes, there are saints among them. Fr. John Hardon who died in 2000 certainly is one, and he often spoke subtly about his persecution at the hands of his brethren. Fr. Robert Bradley, S.J. is a personal friend one of the kindest and most gracious priests I've ever known. He is another I think would be little welcome among his brothers. He lives with his niece in Texas.

    The nuns on the bus have blatantly manipulated people's knowledge of sisters to gain support while they undermine traditional religious roles. How many people think of lobbyists (Sr. Simone Campbell heads NETWORK) and U.N. NGOs when they think of nuns? Some orders focus heavily on global warming nonsense and advancing liberal politics.

    My husband and I prefer to choose a few faithful congregations and individuals to support rather than the collection for retired religious. I have no confidence that the money will be used by some of these orders for their retired members, some of whom were long ago cast off when their orders abandoned community living. I remember one dear nun who had to go find herself a job and was ostracized when she refused to stop wearing her habit. She has gone now to her heavenly reward which I'm sure is great after her long agonia from her "sister."

    1. Thanks Mary Ann - you always have a very balanced POV and add greater depth to my posts. Thanks.

  2. I tend to agree with Mary Ann on this one. There certainly were a few saintly Jesuits in the past decades. Father Hardon as Mary Ann mentioned and also a convert hero of mine from England, Father Hugh Thwaites SJ who recently passed away. I remember some time ago listening to an interview on Catholic radio by a sister who was a member of a LCWR congregation who spoke about sisters who have suffered greatly and continue to do so within their communities because of their faithfulness to their communities charism and tradition. I was extremely surprised by this because quite honestly I couldn't fathom being a member of a congregation that so blatantly sought to undermine Catholic truth.

    Have a look at this particular congregation and you can REALLY see the split between the sisters:

  3. I can't even begin to imagine the silent martyrdom of living for decades within a community that actively seeks to deny and undermine the traditional Catholic life and charism of their community. The sisters in the link I provided who do wear their habit and seemed to have been formed in traditional Catholicism must be thinly tolerated by the rest.

  4. I have given to the retirement fund many times. I cannot deny I am bitter that I was denied the faith by the sisters in my Catholic grade school and high school. I think it was ignorance rather than malice that guided them.

    Long story, but I once did a speech for a crowd consisting of a bunch of New Agers and two (also New Age-y) Catholic sisters. My speech was basically a great big “hooray” for the Catholic Church and what it actually teaches. I said it for the benefit of the sisters – I just presumed the rest of the room would lynch me. I my utter surprise the whole room practically jumped out of their seats and said “yippee”. One of sisters seemed put off by the compliments I was receiving and told me, “You should hang on to that speech and read it again in 10 years.” I can only imagine the ways in which her idealism had been squashed in life. The other sister had left the order to move in with her girlfriend. That sister just looked at me with the most angelic smile on her face as if to say, “Oh, could all that really be true?”

    I don’t think all the evil women in the world just happened to be born in the 1940’s. They just believed what the larger culture told them was true. They are lost and they misled me, but thanks to good Catholic media, I have been found. I cannot help but feel we are on the same boat, just human beings easily led astray (didn’t someone important repeatedly call us sheep?). I hope ardently for the conversion of dissident sisters. I wouldn’t have stuck my neck out that day if I didn’t.

  5. Short and sweet, I normally put some lettuce on the plate when they're passing it around for the retired religious fund. However, most of the nuns (most of whom get angry when you call them nuns and say coldly, "I'm a SISTER, not a NUN.") who took off their habits and flew to the four winds were doing important work when they were habited and still living and praying in common. Their ministries could be taken over in a heartbeat by the laity in just about any sector in which they minister. Health care, teaching our children, etc. It was their public witness, in common, in habit, joyfully or even not so joyfully living out their poverty, chastity, and obedience. That is what set them apart. When they lost that, they lost the souls of their orders. The young, healthy orders ... that is all they're doing. What the nuns of old were doing.

  6. I thank the good LORD above for the faithful witness of some elderly "old school style" School Sisters of Notre Dame NUNS in the 1970s who came to the Montana prairie from "Good Counsel Hill" in Mankato, Minnesota to teach us our Catholic faith. I'm quite confident that the mold that made them no longer exists. I'm sure most on "Good Counsel Hill" would rather be riding around the "Nuns on the bus" tour than teaching out of the "Penny Catechism", passing out "Tan booklets", rosaries and reminding before leaving school to "make a visit to JESUS in the tabernacle".......

  7. My fourth grade teacher came from an order that does not enjoy a good reputation at the moment. She didn't wear a habit. She was still awesome. Her order sent her out with several others to teach at a school several states away from their motherhouse. There she remained, even though the others sent with her died or retired. For all I know, she might still be there, eighteen years after the last of the other sisters left, almost completely isolated from the community which she only visits for a couple of weeks every summer. Perhaps, in a way, her isolation prevented her from getting as nutty as the rest of them. When I hear about the retirement fund for religious, I think about her. On the one hand, I don't want to support her order. On the other hand, she was fantastic, and she should not have to suffer inadequate housing or medical care in her old age just because some of her sisters in religion are weird.

    I also think of the elderly Jesuits in the retirement facility on my alma mater's campus. During my freshman year at the university, the university's chapel was being restored and the damage of its 1970s renovation was undone. One day, I stopped between classes to watch the workmen putting the finishing touches on the ceiling, and an old priest with a walker slowly made his way into the doorway of the chapel. He looked around, and started to cry. I asked if he was all right, and he said, "Yes, dear, I'm fine. This is what the chapel looked like when I was a student here. It's so beautiful!" He was of the generation who were professors when the stained glass was knocked out and green shag carpets thrown down in that chapel, but he was happy to see it restored. Doesn't he deserve a happy retirement too, no matter what his brothers did?


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