... in a life of dedicated service to the Church, many female religious communities have forgone the standard benefits and accommodations offered by most jobs, especially those pertaining to retirement.
Our Church has always been an immigrant Church. In the early 1900s, when many immigrants were coming to the Boston area, sisters from across the world came to be their teachers. French Canadian, Irish, Polish and other women religious answered the call to teach the young children of America's newest citizens. And we've all been here ever since.
The Lord has called each one of our religious sisters of the Archdiocese of Boston to follow him in a life of total consecration and service to others. And the sisters have responded generously to their call. Whether that call was to teach, to feed the hungry or to clothe the needy, to be nurses or to evangelize through many forms, our sisters have given so much, often with little or no pay. When we make our vows as religious, we follow the example of Jesus in doing the will of his Father. Religious spend their days helping others, especially those most in need. We provide support, often walking prayerfully along the journey of life with those we help, especially in very difficult times. And we continue to walk that journey into our retirement years.
Many sisters, including those who have offered as much as 70 years of service to the Church, never took home much of a salary. In fact, in a life of dedicated service to the Church, many female religious communities have forgone the standard benefits and accommodations offered by most jobs, especially those pertaining to retirement. As a result, religious communities do not have adequate retirement savings. Rising healthcare costs and decreased income compound the problem.
I share with you a wonderful story of 88-year-old Sister Jeanne Girardin, a retired sister with the Sisters of St. Chretienne. One day, as she walked the streets of Marlborough, she came across a recovery center for those in the throes of addiction. Having had prior experience with counseling during her time as a teacher in a Native American reservation in Alberta, Canada, she decided to volunteer with the program. Now, in her "retirement" years, she continues to live a life of service, spending time every week "accompanying" addicts on their road to recovery. For them, she is a "best friend," a "family member they never had," someone they can always count on.
Sister Jeanne's story is one of many extraordinary stories of senior sisters continuing their work of service into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. They are often the quiet workers in the vineyard of God's love, dedicating their lives to Christ's mission of providing love, mercy, and hope for those they encounter. Now, Sister Jeanne and other sisters of the archdiocese need our help as they face increasing health concerns and aging populations in their religious communities.As the delegate for religious in the Archdiocese of Boston, it's my mission to ensure the needs of our religious communities are met, especially for our senior sisters who, like Sister Jeanne, continue to serve our communities well past the traditional age for retirement. This weekend, at all Sunday Masses, there will be a special collection for the needs of the retired sisters of our archdiocese. Your generosity to this collection assists with day-to-day needs, including prescription medications, nursing assistance, and healthcare expenses. Nearly 1,700 sisters will benefit from your generosity. They have contributed more than 50,000 years of combined service. I ask for your support of this special collection for all these sisters in gratitude for the many years of service they have given to the Church.
Please know that you are in all our prayers and that we are ever grateful for your kindness and generosity.
As the delegate for the religious, Sister Germana Santos is the primary liaison for the more than 1,800 men and women religious in the Archdiocese of Boston enriching parish life, supporting Catholic schools, and contributing to social justice outreach and many forms of evangelization.