The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a grant of $2.5 million to assist aging religious sisters through the National Religious Retirement Office. The grant, payable over three years, will help the NRRO’s efforts to help religious communities in the United States address serious retirement-funding shortfalls.
And goodness knows, there is a great need! I remember hearing, when I was a small child, that our parish was able to keep the cost of tuition low because the Sisters who taught in our elementary school received a salary of only $25 per week. That made it possible for families with modest means to send their children to Catholic schools; but it also made it impossible for the Sisters to participate in the Social Security system or to set aside retirement funds in other accounts.
As a result of such shortsighted planning in the 1950s, many religious communities now lack adequate savings for retirement and elder care.
THE HILTON FOUNDATION
In 2013 the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation launched the Catholic Sisters Initiative to help address this ongoing problem.
The Hilton Foundation continues the philanthropic focus of their founder, hotelier Conrad Hilton, who was raised by his German Catholic mother and educated by religious sisters.
He credited his mother with guiding him to prayer and the church whenever he was troubled or dismayed—from the boyhood loss of a beloved pony to severe financial losses during the Great Depression. His mother continually reminded him that prayer was the best investment he would ever make.
In his Last Will and Testament, Conrad Hilton called for his estate to be used to help the poor, and especially Catholic sisters. He wrote:
“Be ever watchful for the opportunity to shelter little children with the umbrella of your charity; be generous to their schools, their hospitals and their places of worship. Give aid to their protectors and defenders, the Sisters, who devote their love and life’s work for the good of mankind, for they appeal especially to me of being deserving of help from the Foundation.”
In 1986 the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation established the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters specifically to support the apostolic work of Roman Catholic sisters. The Hilton Fund recognizes the outstanding contributions Catholic sisters have made to human development through their spiritual witness and their service to those in need. According to a press release from the NRRO:
The new initiative seeks to enhance the vitality of congregations throughout the world, enabling sisters to minister more widely and effectively. It furnishes strategic support for three primary areas: membership, resources and congregational leadership. The Hilton Foundation’s grant to the NRRO will help religious communities reduce their retirement-fund deficits, thus promoting ongoing viability for congregations in the United States and ensuring that today’s members can continue the good works begun by their elders.
The funds will be used to assess the impact of existing programs for critically underfunded religious communities, in order to improve future services and identify best practices. Funding will also underwrite the development of educational opportunities and resources that promote effective property management and utilization.
The Hilton Foundation’s grant to the NRRO will help religious communities reduce their retirement-fund deficits, thus promoting ongoing viability for congregations in the United States and ensuring that today’s members can continue the good works begun by their elders.
Sister Rosemarie Nassif, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, serves as program director for the Catholic Sisters Initiative. Sister Rosemarie said,
“This (grant) testifies to the stellar reputation and great work of the NRRO.”
WHY I PREFER TO STAY AT HILTON BRAND PROPERTIES
I have already committed to staying in Hilton-owned properties when I travel, as much as is possible. After one business trip during which I stayed at a competing property, I noticed that the hotel’s ballpoint pen carried the phone number 1-800-4CHOICE. That led me to research the hotel chain’s charitable giving; and indeed, I learned that the philanthropic efforts of Choice Hotels (Clarion, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Econolodge, Rodeway Inn and others) do, in fact, support causes with which I do not agree. In contrast, the Hilton Foundation and the HHonors program support many charitable organizations which do great work in local communities and around the world. You can see a list of some of the organizations which they support here.
Hilton-owned properties include the Waldorf-Astoria, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Homewood Suites, and others.