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Sister’s baked goods not enough to support her religious order

Reprinted with permission from the December 2, 2009 edition of The Compass. Photo and story by Sam Lucero

Retirement Fund for Religious assists retired sisters


BAY SETTLEMENT — Sr. Germaine Paider is a baker extraordinaire. She's been baking kolaches, nut breads and other sweet treats since she was a child. At age 94, Sr. Germaine, a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, has made enough treats to fill a bakery - or two.

Her most recent delicacies were up for sale at the Bay Settlement Sisters' Bazaar last month. It's the fifth year the sisters have sponsored a bazaar to raise funds to help offset the cost of their new motherhouse.

Franciscan Sr. Germaine Paider shares a smile with a friend during the Bay Settlement Sisters’ Bazaar Nov. 14 at Holy Cross School in Bay Settlement. (Sam Lucero The Compass)Sr. Germaine sees her baking efforts going to a good cause. "It's one way to contribute" to the debt still owed on the motherhouse, she said. "I love to do it. I like to bake. I've been a teacher most of my life, but I've baked in between (assignments)."

She credits her mother for teaching her how to bake, especially the ethnic Bohemian treats such as kolaches.

But baking kolaches does not meet all the financial needs of the Bay Settlement Sisters, whose aging population requires more attention to health care. That is why they rely on assistance from Catholics through the annual Retirement Fund for Religious, held this year on Dec. 11 and 12.

Last year, the Bay Settlement Sisters received nearly $35,000 from the national collection to help meet their needs. They were the only religious community in the Green Bay Diocese to receive funding. The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc are among religious communities that contribute to the fund.

According to the National Religious Retirement Office, which oversees the annual appeal, there are more than 35,000 religious, mostly women, who are past age 70. More than 5,500 need skilled nursing care.

Since the Retirement Fund for Religious began in 1988, nearly $589 million has been raised to support aging religious like Sr. Germaine. Most of that money, between 80 and 90 percent, goes to direct care assistance of aged religious. The remaining goes to help religious orders implement long-term financial planning programs.

Sr. Germaine said she and the other Bay Settlement sisters are grateful for donations to the appeal.

"It's very important for us, especially now that we are in debt," she said. "It's very much appreciated by the sisters. We're all getting older and fewer (sisters) are working so we are caught up in a financial bind, more or less. So we're happy to get any help we can."

Despite the challenges, Sr. Germaine said religious life still offers young women a rewarding way of life.

"I've been in (religious life) now for 78 years. I left home when I was 15," she said. "It's been a good life. I love it."

Give to the Retirement Fund for Religious
What: 18th annual Retirement Fund for Religious
When: Dec. 12 and 13 (Note: The collection at Holy Cross Parish takes place on December 5 and 6.)
Where: Diocesan parishes

The Compass newspaper offers a lively mix of local, national and international Catholic news along with columns, spiritual reflections, and weekly Scripture readings. In the last 10 years, The Compass has received more than 33 CPA awards. For subscription information, please click here.

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