retired religiousCatholics in the Philadelphia Archdiocese contributed more than $133,000 in a parish collection last year for the Retirement Fund for Religious, according to the National Religious Retirement Office in a letter dated April 21 to Archbishop Charles Chaput.

Over the past 26 years, parishioners of the archdiocese have given almost $4 million to the collection that benefits more than 34,000 women and men religious past the age of 70 in the United States.

In that time the Retirement Fund for Religious has distributed $608 million to support the daily care needs of elderly religious.

The letter signed by the national office’s executive director, Precious Blood Sister Janice Bader, indicated the fund has also allocated $79 million to projects emphasizing collaboration between religious congregations with their health care facilities.

“Many communities have made significant progress in stabilizing their retirement funding,” Sister Janice wrote, “yet the overall needs of senior religious remain profound, and so our mission continues.”

The office helps congregations to improve their finances through a planning process, and Sister Janice applauded the progress made by those congregations working with her office.

In thanking the archbishop and the faithful of the archdiocese, Sister Janice said, “Words cannot express our gratitude for their generous and prayerful support of our nation’s sisters, brothers and religious order priests. May God bless you abundantly!”

She concluded with a personal, hand-written note of support for Archbishop Chaput: “May all go smoothly with Pope Francis’ upcoming visit.”