Religious Retirement Office
Vol. 12, No. 2
Sister Mary Leahy bids Farewell to NRRO
On May 31, 2000, I will complete my three-year commitment as Executive Director of the National Religious Retirement Office. Although the NRRO Management Board graciously offered me another term, I declined their offer believing that I have completed my contribution to the good work of this office. It has been my privilege to collaborate with so many caring and dedicated people, and I now look forward to exploring new areas of service and responsibility.
In the three years that I have been with the office, I believe there has been continuing advancement in the mission and impact of the RFR. Not only have we seen growth in the actual dollars collected through the campaign, 1999 again broke all records, but there has also been a marked increase in the proactive steps religious institutes have taken to meet the needs of their retired and infirm members. Across the country, growing numbers of institutes have joined forces to build and renovate retirement facilities. Moreover, Brother John Patzwall's leadership in grant administration and his untiring efforts to provide service to our religious institutes have contributed greatly to the effectiveness of our grants program. Through the Supplemental and Special Assistance Grants, countless religious communities have engaged in long-range financial planning that enables them to best utilize congregational assets to address retirement concerns.
NRRO has also enhanced and expanded our media campaign to spread the "Good News" of retired religious. Along with our focus on the needs of retired religious, we have been able to share how Basic Grants are helping religious institutes across the country meet their retirement challenges. We have also highlighted the service and ministry that so many religious age 70 and over continue to offer God's people and our Church.
Currently, one of NRRO's most pressing challenges is to identify those religious institutes with the greatest needs. As Project Director for Retirement Services, Sister Andre้ Fries has traveled nationwide to uncover these institutes, many of whom do not currently participate in the NRRO grant process. Through the Supplemental Identified Needs Grant, NRRO has been able to assist these communities on their road to financial stability. As we look to the year 2007 and the end of the collection, perhaps our most important goal will be to ensure that even the smallest religious institutes develop a comprehensive retirement plan.
In the coming years, I think it will also be important for NRRO to broaden its media campaign to reach those of other faiths who have benefitted from the work of religious, perhaps through a hospital or school, but who may be unaware of the RFR. Continued collaboration among religious institutes will also be a critical component of moving the retirement situation from a crisis to a manageable concern. To this end, I am hopeful that communities within the same religious family who are adequately funded for retirement will offer assistance to those provinces whose unfunded liability remains unmet.
In closing, I want to offer my sincere thanks to all those who contribute to the success of the RFR. I send my deepest gratitude to our donors and benefactors who each year generously provide "a moment of thanks" for the faithful service offered by so many religious. Profound thanks also to the bishops, vicars, and diocesan coordinators for their dedication in promoting the RFR and to the countless religious who speak at parishes across the country on behalf of this cause. Our office is also deeply indebted to the consultants and mentors who contribute their time to help other religious institutes address their financial challenges. Finally to the staff here at NRRO and to the many individuals at USCCB who work to promote the RFR, thank you.
It has been my great honor to work with all of you to advance the cause of our nation's retired religious. The National Religious Retirement Office, and all those who strive to ensure that elderly and infirm religious receive the care they deserve and need, will always be in my prayers.
May God bless you.
Sister Mary Leahy, SP
PACE - A Promising New Approach
Sister Andre้ Fries, CPPS
NRRO's fall 1999 newsletter featured a story on two religious institutes, the Dominican Sisters of San Jose Mission and the Sisters of the Holy Family, who joined forces to take advantage of PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly). Readers may remember that PACE is administered by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and is a program that furnishes all-inclusive, community-based health services as a cost-effective alternative to nursing home care. PACE also provides complete acute and long-term care.
Since publication of that article, NRRO has learned of additional religious institutes either utilizing or investigating the PACE model. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to provide expanded details and background information on PACE.
The 1997 Balanced Budget Act established PACE as a permanent provider under Medicare, and it increased the number of PACE sites allowed in the country. It is now an option for all 50 states.
PACE implements Sec. 460.2 of the Social Security Act, and Sec. 460.4 sets forth the scope of regulation and purpose of the program. PACE provides prepaid per capita, comprehensive health care services designed to meet the following objectives: (1) enhance the quality of life and autonomy for frail older adults; (2) maximize dignity of and respect for older adults: (3) enable frail elderly adults to live in the community as long as medically and socially feasible; and (4) preserve and support the older adult's family unit. All Medicare and Medicaid benefits are delivered either in a PACE center, the member's home or an inpatient facility. Moreover, providers use an interdisciplinary, team approach to patient care that includes curative, preventative, rehabilitative and support services. PACE pools the per capita payments to cover whatever services are needed, and participants have no co-payments or deductibles.
The National PACE Association is a good source for information on PACE. Established in 1994, this non-profit membership organization provides members and non-members with a variety of educational materials and activities on PACE. The organization also undertakes a wide-range of initiatives involving public policy, research and quality assurance. For more information on PACE and PACE sites, visit the National PACE Association web site at www.natlpaceassn.org or contact:
National PACE Association
1255 Post Street, Suite 1027
San Francisco, CA 94109
Going in the Right Direction
Brother John T. Patzwall, FSC
Sometimes when an individual or group is engaged in addressing a challenging situation, it can be difficult to see the daily progress being made towards its resolution. Therefore, I would like to share some information about the status of retirement funding for religious institutes that shows we are having a positive impact. By we, I mean the National Religious Retirement Office, its sponsoring Conferences, the religious institutes themselves and our generous donors. The efforts of all these groups, collaboratively and individually, are making a difference.
The first sign of this progress was communicated by our consultants, Arthur Andersen LLP, in their November 1998 report on the results of the 1997 Retirement Needs Survey VII. In that document, they noted the first decline in the amount of unfunded past service liability. This figure went from $7.9 billion in 1995 to $7.0 billion in 1997. In 1998, our office calculations indicated a further decrease to $6.8 billion. When Arthur Andersen reports on the results of Survey IX, 1999, I believe they will confirm another drop, possibly to the level of $6.3 billion.
While the unfunded liability figures are still large, I always emphasize that they represent a worst case scenario, since the assumptions used in producing them are very conservative. The figures are based on retirement expenses increasing at five percent a year and investments earning seven percent annually. These assumptions have been used since the beginning of the collection so we can measure progress and make comparisons. They certainly are not consistent, however, with the performance of the investment markets over the last decade, or with inflation, which has been tamed to the two percent level during this same period. Thank you, Alan Greenspan!
When I reported to the National Association for Treasurers of Religious Institutes (NATRI) last fall, I was able to tell them of additional signs of progress based on the data submitted in the winter and spring of 1999. For example, between 1993 and 1998, the number of institutes of religious women that we considered adequately funded for retirement doubled, rising from 7.4 percent in 1993 to 15.5 percent in 1998. The same was true in the men's communities. During the same time period, they went from 5 percent to 11.5 percent adequately funded. In addition, the women overall had a ten percent increase in their numbers who were 61 to 100 percent funded; the men had a twenty percent increase in this same area.
Finally, our new database allows us much more flexibility in statistical and comparative analysis. For instance, we found 649 institutes that submitted data in both 1993 and 1999. In 1993, only forty-six of these were considered adequately funded. In 1999, the total of these same institutes now considered adequately funded rose to 118. In total, 434 of these 649 institutes, or sixty-six percent, showed a decrease in their percentage of unfundedness between 1993 and 1999.
We are not at the finish line, but we have every reason to believe that our continuing efforts and commitment to this cause will have positive effects in the remaining years of the collection.
This year a record thirty-two institutes have requested a total of $7.9 million in Supplemental Grants. This amount is far in excess of the $2.5 million budgeted for these grants. NATRI/NRRO consultants will be recommending awards to our office, and the Grant Review Board will consider all these requests at its November meeting.
Please send changes in congregational leadership, as well as in addresses, phone or e-mail, to NRRO c/o Jean Smith. Thank You.
Web site: www.nccbuscc.org/nrro
Project Director for Retirement Services
Basic Grants & Special Assistance Grants Awarded
CMSM Assembly (New Orleans, LA)
August 9-12, 2000
LCWR Assembly (Albuquerque, NM)
August 17-21, 2000
International Catholic Stewardship Conference
(Washington, DC) November 11-15, 2000
NATRI National Conference (Memphis, TN)
November 15-18, 2000
Supplemental Grants Awarded
National Collection Date
December 9-10, 2000