Should the Church talk about money? If we follow Christ’s teaching, yes.

Deacon Steve Stemper

In Luke Chapter 3, three different groups asked John the Baptist what they should do to bear the fruit of repentance. John gives three answers: 1) Everyone should share clothes and food with the poor; 2) Tax collectors shouldn’t pocket extra money; and 3) Soldiers should be content with their wages and not extort money. Each answer John gives is related to money and possessions, but no one asked him about that! They only ask how to demonstrate the fruit of spiritual transformation. They don’t grasp John the Baptist’s perspective, that he could not talk about spirituality without talking about how to handle money and possessions.

Jesus puts some harsh words in God’s mouth in the “Parable of the Rich Fool.” In Luke 12:20, we hear: “But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong? Thus will it be for one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

Alternatively, Jesus provides some great promises on both sides of that parable. In Luke 11:41: “…give alms and behold, everything will be clean for you.” And in Luke 12:33: “…give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven.”

When my wife Cathy and I were experiencing our conversion to the Lord in the early 1990s, we decided we were going to try to live out our Catholic faith to the full: in our attending Mass every Sunday, in our family and in our checkbook.

So, despite four young kids and no way of knowing if we could afford to send them to Catholic school or college, we started tithing. One thing it dramatically did was contribute to our growth in faith and trust in God. We truly believed in God’s promise that He never will be outdone in generosity. And now, 25 years later, we can only rejoice that we still are doing fine despite paying for Catholic schools, colleges and three daughters’ weddings! So what, that we are driving two cars that have 365,000 miles between them!

When we created our will back then, we decided to leave 10% of our assets to the Church. After I became President of The Catholic Foundation in 2012, we became aware of the concept to “treat the Church like one of your children.” We thought that made a lot of sense, so we changed our will to do just that … such that our four children and The Catholic Foundation will each receive 20% of our estate.

Today, we are not sure how our kids will be able to do what we did; with Denver’s crazy housing market, how will they be able to afford Catholic school for their kids, future colleges and, someday, weddings? It looks daunting for them. Shouldn’t we leave them 100% instead of just 80%? For us, it was an easy decision—better to give them a portion with God’s blessing than to think they’d be better off with it all. Besides, they are helping themselves have the best chance possible.

How? By doing their own tithing! I remember years ago, when the business manager at our parish called me to ensure that it was okay that our daughter had made a large contribution to the parish. Cathy and I were unaware she had done so. What had she done? She had tithed her high school graduation gift money. You can imagine how proud we felt.

A “planned gift” through a will or another avenue is the easiest gift to make because it only gets made when we can’t use it anymore – at least, not in this world. Maybe it can be better used by God and his Church. Listen to Revelation 14:13: “I heard a voice from Heaven say, ‘write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, said the Spirit, let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them.’ ”

Cathy and I want our works to accompany us, as we are sure you do, too. We have been saved by Jesus for eternal life – let us make sure our faith in that is manifested in our living and in our giving.

Would you prayerfully discern how God is calling you to steward the assets He has entrusted to you? We hope we and you hear these words someday from Jesus (Matthew 25:34): “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Deacon Steve Stemper is CEO & President of The Catholic Foundation. Please contact him at (303) 468-9885 if you would like a meeting to discuss how your planned giving can be used for God’s Kingdom.

COMING UP: Blessings abound in Catholic Foundation’s 20 years

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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.”

FIND OUT MORE
Online: TheCatholicFoundation.com
Phone: 303-468-9885
Address: 3801 E. Florida Ave., Suite 909, Denver, CO 80210