WEST VIRGINIA—The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will hold the Retirement Fund for Religious collection Dec. 11-12. The parish-based appeal is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) in Washington, D.C. Proceeds help religious communities across the country to care for aging members. “Over the past years, West Virginia Catholics have been very generous is supporting the needs of retired religious men and women who have served in their parishes, schools, and hospitals,” said Sister Martha Teresa Gomez, RGS, Delegate for Consecrated Life for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. “We still enjoy the presence of religious women and men throughout the state. Your generous gift sustains many in their retirement by providing for their physical and spiritual care.” Last year, the diocese donated $67,050.45 to the collection. “I am continually heartened by the overwhelming generosity of U.S. Catholics,” said NRRO Executive Director Sister Stephanie Still, a member of the Sisters of the Presentation of San Francisco. “Even in difficult times, they find a way to give back to those who have worked tirelessly to serve our church and our world.” Hundreds of U.S. religious communities face a large gap between the needs of their older members and the funds available to support them. Historically, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests—known collectively as women and men religious—served for little to no pay. As a result, many communities now lack adequate retirement savings. At the same time, health-care expenses continue to rise, and an increasing number of older religious require specialized services. NRRO data shows that 26,330 women and men religious in the United States are older than age 70. The total cost for their care exceeds $1 billion annually. Distributions are sent to each eligible order’s central house and provide supplemental funding for necessities, such as medications and nursing care. Donations also underwrite resources that help religious communities improve eldercare and plan for long-term retirement needs. Religious orders typically do not receive diocesan funding but rather are financially autonomous and thus responsible for the support and care of all members. T he once-yearly Retirement Fund for Religious collection is for members of U.S. religious orders and benefits both men and women religious. Visit retiredreligious.org to learn more.