Religious Retirement Office
Vol. 12, No. 1
Caritas Center: Where Charity and Love Prevail
On October 3 , 1999, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary dedicated Caritas Center, a newly constructed addition to their retirement facilities located on the Mount Carmel campus in Dubuque, Iowa. The new center links three existing buildings at Mount Carmel: the Motherhouse, a retirement residence for 125 sisters, Marian Hall, a skilled nursing home for 130 sisters and the BVM Center, the national administrative offices of the BVM congregation.
The multi-million dollar addition is the result of extensive planning on the part of the BVM congregation. Funding for the center came through several sources, including a targeted appeal to major donors, bequests, small-scale foundation grants and in-kind donations. "We are most grateful to the many donors who have helped bring this dream to reality," says Sister Dolores Marie McHugh, BVM president.
A vital aspect of the planning process was to survey retired sisters regarding their health care concerns and their hopes for a new facility. Among the immediate needs identified were improved care for sisters with Alzheimer's, additional assisted living services and increased opportunities for socialization at meal times.
Caritas Center not only meets these requirements, but it offers many other recreational and therapeutic enhancements. The 64,000 square foot building provides for expanded physical, occupational and speech therapy, and it includes a therapeutic pool with lift, whirlpools and a large exercise and multi-purpose room. A coordinator oversees comprehensive wellness activities.
The new facility also includes 21 assisted living units, each with a private half bath. Three cozy lounge areas provide space for socializing and recreational activities. Closed circuit television capabilities in each of the assisted living units, as well as in numerous private rooms and common lounges throughout the three buildings, ensure that all residents can participate in one or both of the daily masses offered at Mount Carmel.
A newly combined kitchen and dining area now allows residents from each of the Mount Carmel buildings to gather in one place for meals. Not only does the 200 seat room offer more economical food service, but it helps to maintain and strengthen the sense of community. Two adjacent smaller dining rooms provide 48 additional seats and can be closed off for meetings.
An added bonus of combining the dining facilities is that more space is now available for other BVM ministries. Chief among these is the Roberta Kuhn Center for Senior Citizens, an elder hostel type center offering more than 30 weekly classes each semester. Course topics range from art to theology, and BVM sisters, along with lay volunteers, share their time and expertise to staff the classes.
The BVM sisters are particularly proud of Caritas Center's Special Care Unit. This unit offers two-floors with sixteen private rooms each for sisters with Alzheimer's and other related dementia disorders. Designed to provide a therapeutic and nurturing environment, the area features visual clues outside and inside each room to assist with recognition. A complete kitchen and dining room on each floor create a home-like atmosphere and various types of programming assist with awareness and memory retention. Each floor also has a small chapel that enables sisters to continue their prayer ministries. In addition, sisters with third-stage Alzheimer's are benefitting from a newly remodeled wing of Marian Hall. The Enhanced Care unit provides necessary assistance and support for all the activities of daily living.
Caritas Center completes and expands the spectrum of care for retired BVM sisters. In one location, sisters can transition from well-retired to assisted living and, if need be, skilled care. The center also provides greater flexibility by allowing residents to move temporarily between the three levels of care as their health dictates. "Our goal was to enhance the dignity of the person and the quality of life for all," says BVM vice-president Sister Mary McCauley. "We are now able to provide a real continuum of care as sisters move from being well-elderly to needing additional support services." Sister Joellen McCarthy, also a BVM vice-president, adds, "The name Caritas, the Latin word for charity or love, speaks to our essence as Sisters of Charity, and to the unique focus of our retirement and health care home."
As part of the celebration of the great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II has called for the forgiveness of third world debt and an end to economic inequality. In this spirit, NRRO has been notified that a religious community with adequate retirement resources for its own members, would like to make a donation towards the unfunded retirement liability of another religious institute in their region. Although this congregation prefers to remain anonymous, they offer a moving example of Jubilee Giving. If your institute is sufficiently funded for retirement, perhaps you would consider lending a helping hand to a religious community in your region whose retirement needs remain unmet. For further information, please contact NRRO. Thank you.
Among the many retirement challenges facing religious institutes, perhaps the greatest is providing skilled care for elderly and infirm members. After all, the costs are staggering. Religious institutes participating in our 1998 retirement needs survey reported that they had a total of 6160 men and women requiring skilled care. With an average annual expenditure of $33,473.60 per person, religious institutes spent well over two-hundred million dollars on skilled care in 1998. These costs have risen steadily over the last several years, and we can only surmise that the results from our 1999 survey, which we are now calculating, will reveal more of the same.
As the average median age for men and women religious continues to increase, so does the need for skilled and assisted living care. Addressing this need requires careful research and planning on the part of the religious institute, as well as an openness to exploring alternative solutions to traditional care arrangements. Many of our newsletter articles have featured the success religious institutes have found in joining hands to care for their most infirm members. This issue demonstrates how a large congregation was able to improve and expand their skilled and assisted living care. Answers are available, but the time to start planning is now, before the skilled care crisis becomes unmanageable.
NRRO's Special Assistance Grant can be an important first step in addressing your institute's skilled care needs. The grant can be used to help fund feasibility studies and utilization reviews of property and buildings, and it can assist in your long-range financial planning. The grants are up to $25,000 each, and applicants must meet the Basic Grant guidelines in order to be considered. For further information and additional criteria on the Special Assistance Grant, please contact our office.
Finding affordable skilled care for elderly members is a definite challenge, but NRRO is here to offer religious institutes information, support and financial assistance. Investigate the possibilities, and you will find that your retirement problem has a retirement solution.
Best wishes for a blessed and pleasant spring.
Mary A. Leahy, SP
|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 Catholic Conference 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.
Web site: www.nccbuscc.org
Project Director for Retirement Services
Record Supplemental Grant Distribution Caps Off Record Grant Year
Brother John T. Patzwall, FSC
Grants distributed by the National Religious Retirement Office in 1999 amounted to a record $31,077,470! The following grants were made possible by the generosity of those contributing to the 1998 RFR campaign and collection and to the surplus accumulated from prior campaigns: Basic Grants: $27,224,730; Special Assistance Grants: $539,740; and SING Grants: $220,000.
In addition, during December 1999, nineteen religious institutes and/or collaborative projects received checks for Supplemental Grants amounting to $3,093,000. This figure was more than double the amount awarded as Supplemental Grants in any prior year!
We were excited and happy to be able to respond, especially to grant requests which centered around collaborative projects. Two California communities received grants to assist them in piloting participation in the PACE program highlighted in the last newsletter. Moreover, two collaborative retirement projects, representing sixteen and twenty-eight institutes respectively, received grants for collaborative skilled care facilities.
Two communities received grants to purchase into the Social Security System with twenty quarters of back coverage. This will allow them to qualify for and receive benefits five years earlier than originally projected.
Other communities received supplemental grants for facility planning and financial accounting improvements. Several received grants to care for the current needs of retired members. One institute received emergency funds to recover from earthquake damage.
Now that all has been distributed and accounted for, we have begun the 2000 Grant Cycle by distributing 893 eligibility forms for the 2000 Basic Grant. We have also made available applications for the other grant programs. Neither preliminary or final numbers are yet available on the 1999 collection, so it is premature to calculate the total available funds for grant distribution at this time. If the number of contributions received here in the office is any indication, however, it will be another good year.
New Database Administrator
Monica Glover, NRRO staff assistant since 1991, recently assumed the position of Database Administrator. In her previous role, Monica's many duties included fielding questions and inquiries concerning the RFR and coordinating all of the financial mailings. As database administrator, Monica is closely involved with the distribution of the Basic, Special Assistance and Supplemental Grant materials, and she manages their related database files. She is also responsible for depositing and recording gifts to the RFR and for generating the acknowledgment letters.
Prior to coming to NRRO, Monica worked for several years in the federal government. She lives in Riverdale, Maryland with her husband, Darryl and eight-year old son, Julian. We at NRRO are delighted to have Monica in her new position and know that she will continue to make a significant contribution to the success of the RFR.
|Please send changes in congregational leadership, as well as in addresses, phone or e-mail, to NRRO c/o Jean Smith so that we can keep our records and mailing lists up to date.
Knocking at the Door
Sister Andrιe Fries, CPPS
Recently someone told me, "I am so glad that someone is out there knocking on doors." I had just shared that my ministry at NRRO is to make sure that every religious institute has a realistic retirement plan in place for the future. Since the annual appeal will end in 2007, one of NRRO's primary goals is to offer planning assistance to insure that each religious institute has the long-term financial ability to care for its elderly members.
Currently, 712 religious institutes provide membership and financial information through NRRO's annual "Basic Grant Eligibility Application." Although, 178 of these institutes decline grants, they still furnish this data so we can track the progress of religious institutes in meeting retirement needs for the future. The data supplied also indicates which institutes may be needing extra assistance because of higher median ages and low levels of funding.
The Vicars for Religious are another an invaluable source for identifying institutes requiring special assistance. Bishops or other religious institutes may also express concern about an institute, providing additional leads for recognizing those in need. This information is greatly appreciated as NRRO is sometimes unaware of these institutes because they do not participate in our programs.
Our sponsoring conferences, CMSM, CMSWR, NCCB and LCWR, created the position I am privileged to staff of Project Director of Special Retirement Services. This position seeks specifically to be pro-active in locating and offering planning and financial assistance to institutes with special needs in caring for their elderly. My primary approach is to do site-visits in geographic areas. In 1999, I visited institutes in the Amarillo, Los Angeles, Boston and New York areas. "Knocking on the doors" of these institutes provides a wonderful face to face opportunity to speak with the religious as well as do a quick assessment of their situation. Every institute has been both welcoming to me and grateful for the offer of special assistance. In 1999, twenty-five communities were awarded Supplemental Identified Need Grants (SING), ranging from $2,000 to $25,000, to enable them to hire consultants and financial planners.
If any of our readers has a concern about a religious institute's need in caring for their elderly, please contact me at 202-541-3465 or Afries@nccbuscc.org. I would be most grateful for your assistance in identifying religious institutes that may welcome "a knock on the door."
NRRO Welcomes Jean Smith
Jean Smith recently joined NRRO as our new staff assistant. For the last five years, Jean had served as an administrative aide/receptionist in the executive offices of the U.S. Catholic Conference. In her former position, Jean coordinated such activities as the daily mass schedule and maintenance of the Bishops' confidential phone directory. She also assisted with the NCCB/USCC general and national advisory council meetings. Jean's keen understanding of the Catholic Conference and its workings will be a meaningful asset in her work for the RFR.
Jean lives in Hyattsville, Maryland with her husband of thirty-one years, "Smitty." They have two daughters, Tanya, age 28, and Tara, age 25. They enjoy camping and hiking. Welcome Jean!