Religious Retirement Office
Vol. 16, No. 2
What Can the NRRO Do For You?
Many newsletter readers are familiar with NRRO's grant programs. Indeed, these are the backbone of our organization. But NRRO offers a host of other services. Together with the grants, these services are designed to assist religious institutes in addressing both immediate and long-term retirement challenges. The objective is to enable communities to envision the future and then take strategic actions to achieve their goals.
Information based services furnish religious institutes with data and trends that can aid in forecasting future retirement needs and costs. They are:
The Retirement Needs Analysis–Calculates retirement needs based on demographics, current cost of care and assets available for retirement.
The Census Projection–Uses current statistics and the William M. Mercer Mortality Tables for men and women religious to help project a religious institute's census.
Statistical Data–Gathers data to track trends, provide information and inform the public.
Consulting & Training Services
Consulting and training services provide institutes with hands-on assistance, either through on-site visits or through workshops.
Consultations can be requested by any religious institute, but are required in the Supplemental Grant process.
Consultations with trained treasurers of religious orders or practitioners in the care of elder religious.
Trained consultants work with religious institutes to help them navigate the myriad of financial and care decisions that will shape their retirement futures. Consultants provide expertise, ideas and recommendations, especially in relation to NRRO Supplemental Grants. They also recommend the amount of grant awards.
Currently, NRRO works with thirty-five financial consultants. Seven more will be trained in September. There are also thirteen Eldercare consultants, and ten will be added in September. Every other fall, new consultants come in for a day of orientation. All consultants, along with the NRRO staff, also participate in a one and a half day in-service training. This in-service takes place every two years in September.
The consultants are all experienced in their field and work with or for religious institutes. Most are religious; some are lay men and women who work with religious institutes.. Consultants are invaluable, not only because of their specific expertise, but also because their experience makes them a wonderful sounding board for both questions and possible solutions.
Workshops for families of religious institutes and regional groupings (CMSWR, CMSM, LCWR and NATRI or a combination of these groups) comprise an increasingly popular dimension of NRRO services. Workshop topics include:
- spirituality of aging
- emerging trends in elder care
- building or renovating for elder care needs
- government assistance programs
- investing for retirement
- when to use the retirement fund
- indicators of viability from the Collaborative Viability Project
- findings of the "Best Practices" research
Finally, NRRO works with other national organizations to increase the number and types of educational opportunities available for religious institutes. In May 2004 and again in March 2005, NRRO will present with NATRI a financial workshop for small congregations. Additionally, in May 2005, NRRO will co-sponsor with the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC) a workshop for small congregations on the basics of fund-raising. Another outreach will be to contemplative families who may not belong to LCWR or CMSWR.
So take advantage of the services and information NRRO offers. They will help your institute make more informed, strategic decisions, and ultimately, promote a better, more secure retirement for all.
Don't forget to join us on Friday, November 12th, for NRRO's presentation at the National Association of Treasurers of Religious Institutes (NATRI) annual conference in Arlington, Virginia. Our half-day seminar will focus on ways of providing quality care for senior members while controlling costs.
The workshop will take an in-depth look at quality of care and cost relationships. Mr. William L. Keane, Director of Dementia Services for the Mather Institute on Aging, will be the keynote speaker. He will explain how elements that have the greatest impact on quality of life for elders can also be cost effective. A dynamic and engaging speaker who is passionate about improving the quality of life for today's seniors, Mr. Keane will stretch your thinking and offer practical insights into the needs and wants of the elderly. The workshop will include topics of interest to religious institute treasurers, leaders, and retirement directors. We hope to see you there!
For more information call NATRI at 301-587-7776.
As you read through this issue of the NRRO newsletter, you'll probably notice some common themes: education and service. With the RFR scheduled to end in 2007, NRRO is devoting increasing time and energy to providing training initiatives and information that can aid religious institutes in their long-range planning. Most importantly, we want to empower institutes with the ability to address retirement challenges, even when our office is no longer operational.
Our focus on education makes me reflect on the old adage about the difference between giving people fish, so they can eat for a day, or teaching them to fish, so they can eat for a lifetime. While NRRO has always had the critical responsibility of distributing the funds donated through the RFR, our goal has been to do this in such a way that religious institutes can eat for more than a day. Thus, our grants are structured not simply to provide for immediate needs, but also to furnish funds that enable religious institutes to undertake the kind of careful analysis necessary to develop comprehensive retirement funds and solutions. Ultimately, it is long-term self-sufficiency that NRRO programs strive to promote.
Like many Catholic institutions, the best resource religious institutes have is one another. In tackling retirement issues, communities can learn from other congregations' successes. They can also benefit from NRRO's extensive network of volunteer consultants, who generously share their expertise and broad experience to help religious institutes formulate retirement plans that inspire hope and comfort, instead of despair and uncertainty.
In the coming months, our emphasis on education will expand to include the Best Practices research. Findings from this study offer concrete examples of how to build a retirement plan without losing focus on ministry. More than the specific success stories, however, what I find compelling is the attitude of the institutes involved. Their perseverance in gathering information, their readiness to exchange ideas, and their openness to new possibilities allowed these communities to conquer seemingly overwhelming obstacles. In other words, their willingness to learn made all the difference.
May our loving God bless you,
Sister Andrée Fries, CPPS
3211 Fourth Street NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194
(202) 541-3215, www.usccb.org/nrro
Project Director for Retirement Services
2003 Grants Distributed
Brother Hank Sammon, FMS
The 2003 Retirement Fund for Religious campaign raised $27,964,091. Although, this was a slight drop from the previous year (less than one percent), the RFR remains overall the most successful appeal in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. Since 1988, generous supporters from across the country have responded to the call to assist religious institutes in meeting both immediate and long-term retirement needs. To date, nearly $430 million has been raised.
In June, NRRO distributed $20 million in Basic Grants to 546 religious institutes. Basic Grants are designed to help institutes establish continuing community support funds. Each year, they comprise roughly ninety-six percent (after operating budget) of the funds contributed to the RFR.
Supplemental Grants, in the amount of $1.8 million, also were awarded. An additional distribution of Supplemental Grants will be made in September, bringing the total dispersed to $4.0 million. These grants are targeted for institutes that have a critical need for a subsidy to help in implementing a retirement strategy. Eligibility is determined by an on-site consultation, which consists of two trained volunteers conducting a three-day evaluation with a religious institute applying for the grant. Together with the congregation, consultants evaluate an institute's financial and retirement situations. They also make recommendations for improving the situation and determine a recommended grant amount (up to $250,000).
Finally, a total of $500,000 will be distributed for Special Assistance Grants. Special assistance grants can be up to $25,000 and are awarded to religious institutes or collaborative retirement projects to assist in long-term planning for retirement needs. These grants support planning and feasibility studies as well as utilization reviews of property and buildings. Supplemental and Special Assistance Grants advance NRRO's goal of helping the neediest religious institutes make a significant difference in their retirement funding. And all grant programs promote greater security and a brighter future for our nation's retired and aging religious.
Please send changes in addresses, phone, e-mail, or congregational leadership to NRRO c/o Jean Smith so that we may keep our records and mailing lists up-to-date.
Next Steps for Best Practices
Sister Janice Bader, CPPS
Focus groups discuss findings
of Best Practices study.
In August 2003, NRRO received a revised edition of Planning for Retirement and Mission: A Best Practices Study. Readers may remember that this study was sponsored by the Commission on Religious Life and Ministries and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. The study examined religious institutes that have been successful in meeting the needs of their retired members while maintaining their central ministry and mission.
As a follow-up to the research, NRRO surveyed major superiors, retirement directors and treasurers of religious institutes to determine which of the study's findings they would most like to see developed into educational programs or materials. The choices were: financial management and retirement planning, communication with members, participation in public programs, development, facilities and property, and retirement programs and policies.
Over two hundred surveys were returned. When they were tallied, the three areas seen as being the most vital for NRRO to address were: Strategic Planning, Retirement Philosophy, Policies and Procedures, and Communication with Members.
In order to ascertain how best to develop educational programming related to the three topic areas, NRRO hosted three gatherings in Baltimore, Maryland during the week of April 12. In attendance were representatives from the Best Practices communities and others with expertise in these particular focus areas. Participants examined various issues associated with each of the topics. For instance, when reviewing Retirement Policies and Philosophies, some of the concepts considered were aging as a critical time for ongoing formation, the ministry of aging, and meaningful ways for senior members to continue involvement in community.
Based on their discussions, each of the three focus groups made recommendations on materials and methods that could be used to instruct religious institutes concerning the subject areas. They also offered specific suggestions to NRRO for steps they could take to help share the information. NRRO is now in the process of developing educational opportunities using the information and guidelines gathered from the focus groups.
Some participants at the April gathering.
NRRO is also working on other ways to disseminate findings from the study. Later this summer, a Best Practices summary will be sent to all bishops, major superiors, treasurers, and vicars for religious. Additional copies will be available through our office, and we will post the information on our website.
Be sure to check future newsletter editions, as well as our website, for ongoing information and opportunities related to the Best Practices study.
If you would like to make a bequest or restricted gift to the National Religious Retirement Office, the following information should be used:
To the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Incorporated, for the exclusive purpose of assisting Roman Catholic religious orders in the United States to provide for the retirement needs of their elderly members.
|LCWR/CMSM Joint Assembly, Fort Worth, TX||August 19-23, 2004|
|NCDC Conference, Orlando, FL||September 16-19, 2004|
|NRRO consultant In-Service, Detroit, MI||September 23-26, 2004|
|Special Assistant Grant Applications due (December Cycle)||September 30, 2004|
|Supplemental Grant Applications due (June Cycle)||October 15, 2004|
|CRLM Meeting, Washington, DC||November 12, 2004|
|NATRI Conference, Arlington, VA||November 10-13, 2004|
|USCCB General Meeting, Washington, DC||November 15-18, 2004|
|Special Assistance & Supplemental Grants awarded||December, 2004|
|RFR National Collection||December 11-12, 2004|