As health care costs for all Americans have been rapidly increasing over the years, men and women religious are no exception. For Sister M. Lorianne Tylczynski, CSSF, who serves as a local minister for aging and ill Felician Sisters in the Blessed Mary Angela Care Center in Buffalo, has personally seen the need for funds to help orders care for retired men and women religious, particularly with many individuals in their 80s and older.
While not retired herself, Sister Lorianne believes the Retirement Fund for Religious is necessary in order to continue to provide care for those who have taught, cared for the sick and offered prayers for people of all faiths in the diocese.
"(It helps with) the cost of sending even one sister to the hospital, because most of them have to go by ambulance, the cost of the special stockings that they wear or the medical treatment that they receive. Even though we are insured, the costs are just rising," she said. "That retirement fund helps us to defray some of those costs."
Donations also ensure that people in religious communities get nutritious food they need to stay healthy. Since Sister Lorianne takes care of sisters who have served their community for many decades, she sees women who dedicated their lives to schools, hospitals and other institutions in the area.
"My current position is taking care not of their health care needs, because we have the nursing staff and aides to take care of their physical being, but I also take care of their personal needs, their spiritual needs - visiting sisters in hospitals," Sister Lorianne explained.
Sister Lorianne's contact with elders in religious communities began early in her life when she attended St. Luke Elementary School, now St. Luke's Mission of Mercy. She had a great-aunt who was a woman religious, and her family frequently visited her. "When I think back, I think she was the one who sparked my vocation," Sister Lorianne recalled, also fondly remembering a favorite teacher in school who was a woman religious.
She joined the Felician Sisters in Buffalo shortly after high school before attending Villa Maria College and Medaille College in Buffalo. Subsequently, she went to Xavier University in Cincinnati for her Montessori education and Buffalo State College for her administration in education degree.
Early in her ministry, Sister Lorianne taught elementary school, including Montessori education for four years, and served as a principal in diocesan schools.
From 1995-2009, she served on the provincial leadership team for the local Felician Sisters. In 2010, she was assigned to the order's generalate in Rome, Italy, where she served as a local minister for 28 sisters of many nationalities. She started assisting aging sisters once she got back to the United States in 2016.
"When I came back from Rome, I did some driving for the sisters," Sister Lorianne said. "As of July 1 of this year, the local minister resigned because of sickness, and I was asked to take on that position."
Like many others, Sister Lorianne noted that once sisters "retire," they do not actually retire, as they continue serving on a volunteer basis, including prayer ministry and assisting in residences, after they officially retire. On Halloween, they distributed candy to patients at Children's Hospital.
"We're trying to bring that awareness outside the house. Even though physically some of them can't do anything, they are encouraged to help out the best way they can," Sister Lorianne said.
According to Sister Lorianne, the Retirement Fund for Religious is "one of the most wonderful things that has happened" in the Diocese of Buffalo, in addition to other dioceses throughout the United States.
"I know we're asking for financial aid from people, but it is also a way for them, in a sense, to show their gratitude to the sisters for all of the education and the care that was given to these people throughout many years," she said. "I also feel that it's very satisfying that when the donations come, many times there is a wonderful little note included as a thank you. I call it an 'attitude of gratitude,' which is just super."