Blessings abound in Catholic Foundation’s 20 years

Donors find peace and joy, while Church ministries get vital support to carry on

Roxanne King

“It is more blessed to give than to receive,” Jesus Christ said. Donors to The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado say his words (Acts 20:35) are true.

Freedom, joy and peace of mind from paying good forward, those are some of the blessings donors said they received from giving. That’s part of the legacy of The Catholic Foundation, which is marking its 20th anniversary this year.

And what about The Catholic Foundation’s material blessings? Since its inception, it has distributed more than $100 million in grants to Catholic schools, parishes and ministries. And its legacy continues to grow.

“The last few years we’ve granted back to the community about $10 million per year in the Archdiocese of Denver,” said Jean Finegan, director of planned giving and development.

The Catholic Foundation was established in 1998 by Archbishop Charles Chaput to professionally manage and safeguard donations of money, stocks and other property for the establishment of endowments, donor-advised and general funds to benefit Catholic organizations.

“We’re legally distinct from the Archdiocese of Denver but we’re of like mind and spirit to advance the mission of the Church,” Finegan said. “We provide primarily for the long-term financial support of ministries and parishes in the archdiocese.”

The Catholic Foundation is a tax-exempt entity governed by a board of trustees comprised of laity but which also includes Archbishop Samuel Aquila, auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez, and Vicar General Father Randy Dollins as ex-officio members.

Current board chair is Norma Frank, founder and CEO of Colorado Lighting Inc. and a parishioner of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Welby. Frank is a keen supporter of the foundation.

“Nothing is more freeing than living for others. You get a great feeling when you give back,” she asserted. “It’s been a way of life for generations of my family, who first put down roots in Welby more than 110 years ago.”

Frank’s grandfather helped build Assumption and her family continues to be active parishioners.

“A strong faith gives me hope and gives me the strength that I’ve needed to succeed,” she said. “God has been very good to me. He’s given me the opportunity to focus on service to others. It’s provided so much joy in my life, and I’d like to share that.”

Frank sees The Catholic Foundation as sharing the Gospel by showing how giving is part of the good news.

“It really is promoting that aspect of what you can provide for others and the joy that you will receive back from it,” she said.

Catholic Foundation donors Dr. Nate Scherer and his wife Kristin, a homemaker, are the parents of four young children and parishioners at St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Littleton.

They borrowed their motto for giving—“Just do it!”—from Nike.

“We don’t leave this world with any of the financial gifts we have been given,” Kristin Scherer explained. “Therefore, it is our responsibility to make sure that they can continue to be helpful to others after we are gone.”

Giving through The Catholic Foundation gives the Scherers peace of mind.

“We think the biggest benefit of giving through the foundation is that we can be sure that our gifts will be used responsibly by the foundation and directed where we desire,” Kristin Scherer said. “It is our hope that these gifts will also inspire our own children to carry on this legacy as well.”

The Catholic Foundation is “one-stop shopping” for Catholic giving, Finegan said.

“We have over 300 Catholic funds in support of our archdiocese,” she said, noting that the archdiocesan seminaries, Catholic Charities and the Fellowship of Catholic University Students are among the schools, parishes and ministries donors may choose to give to.

“We grow the dollars under the direction of our investment committee and investment company using a morally responsible investment policy in line with the teachings of the Church,” she emphasized. “It’s an honor and a privilege to serve our fellow Catholics in stewarding the treasures of the Church to provide for the needs of our future generations.”

In August, The Catholic Foundation’s annual appreciation night for donors, which includes a Mass celebrated by the archbishop and a reception, will honor the organization’s two decades of service, Finegan said. The warm fellowship and joy of the evening is always palpable, she said.

“It’s neat to see the synergy,” Finegan said describing how Catholics across the archdiocese connect at the event.

“Planning is a gift we give to our family and our Church that reveals our heart one more time about what matters most to us,” she continued. “The foundation provides a means to bless those who come after us. If we the faithful don’t leave a legacy gift for our parishes, schools and ministries, who will?”

Deacon Steve Stemper, president and CEO of the foundation, concurred.

“The Catholic Foundation is grateful for all the support we’ve been given these past 20 years as people have answered St. Paul’s call in Galatians 6:10 to ‘do good to all but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.’

“We look forward to partnering with many more in the coming years in their giving for the kingdom of God, not only for themselves and their future destiny, but for all those we serve.”

Phone: 303-468-9885
Address: 3801 E. Florida Ave., Suite 909, Denver, CO 80210

COMING UP: The Catholic Foundation helps parishes get extra $1 million-plus

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Parishioners from 39 churches in the Archdiocese of Denver took advantage of a financial opportunity over the past year by digging deeper into their wallets and now their parishes have more than $1 million to use for such needs as a church remodeling, an altar replacement and new widows for a parish school.

The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado agreed to match up to $10,000 if parishes raised money outside of the weekly offertory collections. Through June, the parishes raised $652,214 and the foundation added the $390,000 matching funds.

One parishioner at St. Michael the Archangel in Aurora personally met the match with a $10,000 donation after listening to Deacon Steve Stemper, CEO and president of the foundation, explain the program.

“I think that we probably would not have gotten that $10,000 donation if Deacon Steve had not spoken at the church about the matching funds,” said Pastor Father Terry Kissell.

Other parishioners also have made donations, Father Kissell said, and the money is being put into an endowment fund for future uses.

“The response has been fantastic,” Deacon Stemper told the Denver Catholic Register. “We’re offering parishioners an opportunity to help their parish and in the process double the money. The weekly offering helps the parishes keep the lights on and keep the programs in place running. This money allows them to go over and above those basic needs.”

The program will run at least through 2014 with a possible extension into 2015 and other parishes still can take advantage of the matching funds, Deacon Stemper said. The money comes from the foundation’s Bridge Fund, which benefits a variety of Catholic ministries through grants determined by the board of trustees.

Each parish determines how the matching money will be used. For St. Mark in Westminster the money allows the parish to begin a long-needed remodel project for the church and offices, said Father Ken Koehler.

“People here really have been generous,” Father Koehler said. “They listened to how the program would work and how we could get the remodel project.”

Father Koehler hopes the building improvements will help attract more young families to the parish, which has an older congregation.

St. Peter Parish in Greeley with the help of the local Knights of Columbus was able to raise the matching funds and replaced its aging tabernacle altar with a new tabernacle and a high altar from Spain. Additionally, the church plans to use part of the money to help an orphanage in Ghana, said Father Matt Hartley.

“When we told our parishioners about the matches they did the rest,” he said.

Other projects among parishes that met the matching funds, include: Sts. Peter and Paul in Wheat Ridge plans to use the money for new windows and air conditioning primarily at its parish school; St. Nicholas in Platteville plans an addition of classrooms for religious education; and St. John the Baptist in Johnstown wants to eventually build a new church.

The Catholic Foundation, a nonprofit agency founded in 1998, oversees the matching funds for the parishes. The foundation provides financial guidance for the parishes and legal protection so that the money is used solely for the parish.

In addition to the matching fund program, Deacon Stemper also has asked parishioners to consider remembering their churches in their wills. Unlike other nonprofits or universities, the Catholic Church has not historically asked for parishes to be beneficiaries, Deacon Stemper said. Any financial gift, including designating the Church as the beneficiary on 401-K or bank accounts, would benefit the designated parish, he said.

“The most significant gift can be made at the end of one’s life and the most worthy recipient is the Church,” Deacon Stemper said.