The board of directors for SOAR! – Support Our Aging Religious – has approved $1.3 million in grants to assist aging Catholic sisters, brothers and priests in religious orders. These include two grants in the Archdiocese of Washington, the Josephites and the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity.  

These grants will be distributed to 74 Catholic religious congregations of men and women in 17 states and the District of Columbia; they will benefit more than 9,000 senior men and women religious. The grants total $1,302,235. 

SOAR! grants assist religious communities in caring for their aging members. They are awarded for specific needs. These grants help ensure the safety and dignity of men and women religious. Because of this assistance, many more Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests will be able to continue to age in place and remain at home with their religious communities. Grants in the Archdiocese of Washington include:

• a $20,000 grant to the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity in Silver Spring to purchase an accessible van;

• a $25,000 grant to St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart in Washington to renovate bathrooms and bedrooms for accessibility.  

“It gives me great joy to report to our benefactors how their donations are making a difference in the lives of our aging religious men and women,” said Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Kathleen Lunsmann, SOAR! president.

“Together with our benefactors, SOAR! hit our highest level of annual grant awards. It is only with the generosity of our donors that we are able to assist aging religious with $1.3 million in support this year.”

The majority of men and women religious lack adequate funding for retirement. Most senior religious worked for little pay, and there were often no community provisions for retirement. Meanwhile, the cost of care continues to rise. According to the National Religious Retirement Office, the total cost of care in 2016 for women and men religious past age 70 exceeded $1.2 billion.

SOAR! was formed in 1986 by a group of concerned lay people to help ensure the financial stability of Catholic religious congregations in the care of their elderly and infirm members. In the past 30 years, SOAR! has awarded 1264 grants, totaling more than $18 million, to congregations across the country.