The retirement-funding crisis can be attributed to three primary factors: insufficient retirement savings, rising health-care costs, and declining income. Traditionally, women and men religious worked for small stipends (PDF) that furnished only the basics of daily living. As a result, a majority of religious communities now lack adequate funding for retirement. At the same time, the cost of care continues to increase while the number of religious able to serve in compensated ministry decreases.
Sisters Mercia Delgado (standing), 77, and Maris Stella Noriega, 83, members of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, Baltimore, Maryland.
In 2011, of 559 religious communities submitting data to the National Religious Retirement Office, only 34 were adequately funded for retirement; 159 were less than 20 percent funded.