Wednesday, December 17, 2014

An Advent Appeal - Supporting Elderly Religious

Yesterday afternoon I received an financial appeal from the Oblate Sisters of Providence. This is a community founded in 1829 by Mother Lange, a Cuban who eventually settled in Baltimore where she established a community to work with French-Speaking Haitians. This was the first community dedicated to the care of African Americans and was, itself, the first African American religious community. They were - and continue to be - champions of racial justice and ministry to the poor.

For a number of years I have been aware that this community (which has continued their founder's mission to serve in African American communities throughout the U.S.) has struggled to provide medical care for their elderly members. The money just isn't there. And, sadly, this is a reality for many, many religious communities. (This fact was highlighted in the report on U.S. religious women's communities released this week by the Vatican.)

Mother Mary Lange
Foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

I want to invite you in these days before Christmas to make a financial gift to a religious community to help cover the expenses of caring for the elderly and infirm priests, brothers, and sisters. Some communities literally have hundreds of individual members who need acute and ongoing care. 
This is the Year for Consecrated Life and a great time to say "Thank You" to all of the men and women religious who have given their whole lives to teaching, healthcare, social justice, evangelization, pastoral care, and prayer. Religious deserve our respect and admiration but, sadly, our culture has done an amazing job dismissing the work of generations of holy and loving women and men of faith. It is our responsibility to care for them the way they have cared for so many others.

Even if you aren't Catholic, I encourage you to consider this invitation as well. My guess is that wherever you are, there is a hospital, mission, food pantry, school, or some other charity that was or is run by a religious community that needs your help.

Although I mentioned Oblate Sisters of Providence, there are needs in every religious community. If you were taught by religious sisters, priests, or brothers or have ministered with them, considering sending a gift to that community as a sign of your gratitude. If you would like to give a gift to the U.S. Bishops "Retirement Fund for Religious," click here.

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this Advent invitation.

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