Retirement from Active Service Challenges Resources of Religious Orders
While politicians wrestle with reforming social security for future generations, this May's observance of Older Americans Month calls to mind all the sisters and other religious who have taught generations of children, cared for the sick and worked in other ministries throughout their lives, only to be left struggling in their later years. The FICA (Social Security) payments that religious institutes began to submit for their members in the early 1970s were based on their low cost of living allowances compatible with a vow of poverty. That means that Social Security benefits to individual religious women and men are less than one-third what other Americans receive.
"The cost of care for elderly religious now exceeds $1.3 million each day, and while the National Retirement Fund for Religious has attracted unparalleled support from U.S. Catholics, at least 139 religious institutes still find themselves with the capacity to pay less than 20 percent of their projected health care and retirement costs," says Sister Andree Fries, USCCB's Director of the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO). Another 300 institutes struggle each year with significant shortfalls. To address their critical retirement needs, the National Religious Retirement Office conducts an annual appeal, then distributes at least 96 cents of each dollar donated.
For more information, contact Sister Andree Fries, CSSP, at (202) 541-3217 or email@example.com.
North Carolina Catholics Model "Best for Everyone" Immigration Reform
Picture coastal eastern North Carolina: land of cotton, tobacco, plantations, pine forests, wide rivers, beaches and one of the fastest growing Hispanic populations in the United States. Historically non.Catholic, in recent years two migrations have led to an explosion of the Catholic population, and coastal parishes are thriving. With migration from south of the border, there has been an influx of Hispanic Catholics to work in agriculture, construction, seafood, landscaping and tourism. North Carolina leads the nation in the percentage increase of Hispanics, with about one.fifth, or 120,000, living in the coastal region. A surprising percentage of them are undocumented, living on the edges of town, in trailer parks and in rural areas in tenant shacks.
A seven-year-old project in the three Congressional Districts of Eastern North Carolina, coordinated by Father Paul Brant, SJ, promotes reform of U.S. immigration laws and policy by building coalitions of immigrants, churches, employers and agencies to dialogue with Congressmen, touching on such challenges as husbands and fathers whose families have been waiting for a visa to unite their families for 10.12 years; denial of driver's licenses to those who do not have legal status; and entrepreneurs who prefer undocumented workers because they are easier to exploit.
For the third year, this summer Father Brant will lead students from the Jesuit Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City for eight weeks' work linking more immigrant families to the Coalitions, listening to and recording their stories, preparing testimony with them and educating them about the functioning of American representative democracy.
Responding to a call from U.S. Bishops, a national immigration reform campaign will kick off in May. The multi-year, "Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope" campaign will be led by a broad-based coalition and will focus on educating and creating political will among Catholics so that they may work toward achieving comprehensive immigration reform. Julie McFarland, USCCB's Public Education/Outreach Coordinator for Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope, says "The campaign will truly be a grassroots effort and will encourage other dioceses and regions to duplicate the efforts of Father Brant," protecting the human rights and dignity of newcomers, as well as providing legal and secure means of entry for prospective immigrants
For more information, contact Julie McFarland at (202) 541-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How the Good News Gets Around
The Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) makes the U.S. Catholic Church visible in the media through a variety of projects that bring Gospel values to televisions, radios and computers in homes and parishes throughout the country. Projects such as the award-winning "It All Starts With Faith" public service campaign (www.startswithfaith.org) tell the inspirational stories of individual Catholics. The award-winning "Catholic Radio Weekly" (www.catholicradioweekly.com) keeps Catholics and others up-to-date on Church news and the CCC's streaming videos put Internet users just a mouse click away from presentations on a variety of topics, including a moving tribute to the late Pope John Paul II (www.usccb.org, click on link to "streaming video"). "It is a privilege to be part of the CCC team that produces these programs that help spread the Good News of the Gospel and I hope that parishioners will continue to generously support our efforts," says Pat Ryan Garcia, CCC's Director of Distribution.
Production of these projects and more, as well as funding for USCCB Office for Film and Broadcasting (www.usccb.org/fb/index.htm), are made possible by parishioner contributions to the Catholic Communication Campaign appeal. This year, many dioceses will hold their CCC appeals on the weekend of May 14-15 in conjunction with the celebration of World Communications Day in the United States.
For more information, contact Pat Ryan Garcia at (202) 541-3404 or http://pgsrcia@USCCB.org.