Your innovative ministry may qualify to receive big bucks

OSV Institute is investing in evangelization that works

Avatar

If your Catholic ministry is working, the Our Sunday Visitor Institute wants to help you.

After granting $75 million of service in over a hundred years to the Catholic Church in the country, the OSV Institute has rethought its way of giving out grants and is now focusing on supporting innovative ministries that touch on what it designated as the three biggest needs of the Church in the U.S.: re-captivating millennials, Hispanic ministry and supporting parents.

“The board wanted to relook at the institute. We wanted first of all to continue to give out grants but be much more strategic in doing so, really focusing on what we’re calling an ‘impact agenda’: What are the top needs of the Church of today within the United States, and how do we address those needs?” said Jason Shanks, President of the OSV Institute. “We wanted to focus on much more measurable, outcome-driven information. We really think that the Catholic Church does a lot of things, but nobody knows if they actually work.”

The institute — already a big sponsor of FOCUS, Word on Fire and V Encuentro — does not only want to help creative Catholic ministries and organizations financially, it also has “Think Tank contributors,” or national experts who would help these ministries “from a thought leadership standpoint.”

“The institute overall is becoming much more like an innovative playground, if you will, for the Catholic Church to really figure out what works and to be able to scale it on a national level to multiple dioceses, parishes and different groups,” Shanks said.

What does it take to qualify for a grant?

The organization must be a non-profit officially recognized in the Catholic Church and be listed in the official Catholic directory. This includes parishes, dioceses, and also approved apostolates or groups that are just growing, etc. The ministry must also be directed to at least one of the three “impact areas”: re-captivating millennials, Hispanic experience or supporting parents.

“What we’re looking for is innovation, creativity and people who can pilot and measure [the impact of their ministry],” Shanks explained. “Maybe there’s something really great happening in Denver that we can point to and say, ‘We’ve got data, we’ve tracked this, it’s working,’” Shanks pointed out. “We think a lot of the things that are being done and tried in the Church today are, in some regards, failing.

“So, we’re looking for organizations that want to have impact, to measure impact, and that can be creative and innovative enough to do things that are outside the box. That’s really going to move the needle. We’re looking for new ideas.”

Application deadlines:

Supporting Parents: Due April 15

Re-captivating Millennials: Due Sep. 15

Hispanic Experience: Due Dec. 15

Visit osvinstitute.com for more information.

COMING UP: Historical clarity and today’s Catholic contentions

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

One of the curiosities of the 21st-century Catholic debate is that many Catholic traditionalists (especially integralists) and a high percentage of Catholic progressives make the same mistake in analyzing the cause of today’s contentions within the Church — or to vary the old fallacy taught in Logic 101, they think in terms of post Concilium ergo propter Concilium [everything that’s happened after the Council has happened because of the Council]. And inside that fallacy is a common misreading of modern Catholic history. The traditionalists insist that everything was fine before the Council (which many of them therefore regard as a terrible mistake); the progressives agree that the pre-Vatican II Church was a stable institution but deplore that stability as rigidity and desiccation.

But that’s not the way things were pre-Vatican II, as I explain at some length and with some engaging stories in my new book, The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform (Basic Books). And no one knew the truth about pre-Vatican II Catholicism better than the man who was elected pope during the Council and guided Vatican II through its last three sessions, St. Paul VI.

On January 25, 1959, Pope John XXIII, thought to be an elderly placeholder, stunned both the Church and the world by announcing his intention to summon the 21st ecumenical council. That night, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini (who would be known as Paul VI four and a half years later), called an old friend. An experienced churchman who had long served Pius XII as chief of staff, Montini saw storm clouds on the horizon: “This holy old boy,” he said of John XXIII, “doesn’t know what a hornet’s nest he’s stirring up.”

That shrewd observation turned out to be spot on –– and not simply because of the Council, but because of the bees and hornets that had been buzzing around the ecclesiastical nest for well over 100 years.

Contrary to both traditionalist and progressive misconceptions, Catholicism was not a placid institution, free of controversy and contention, prior to Vatican II. As I show in The Irony of Modern Catholic History, there was considerable intellectual ferment in the Church during the mid-19th century, involving great figures like the recently-canonized John Henry Newman, the German bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler (grandfather of modern Catholic social thought), and the Italian polymath Antonio Rosmini (praised by John Paul II in the 1999 encyclical, Faith and Reason, and beatified under Benedict XVI). That ferment accelerated during the 25 year pontificate of Leo XIII, who launched what I dub the “Leonine Revolution,” challenging the Church to engage the modern world with distinctively Catholic tools in order to convert the modern world and lay a firmer foundation for its aspirations.

American Catholicism, heavily focused on institution-building, was largely unaware of the sharp-edged controversies (and ecclesiastical elbow-throwing) that followed Leo XIII’s death in 1903. Those controversies, plus the civilization-shattering experience of two world wars in Europe, plus a rapid secularization process in Old Europe that began in the 19th century, set the stage for John XXIII’s epic opening address to Vatican II. There, the Pope explained what he envisioned Vatican II doing: gathering up the energies let loose by the Leonine Revolution and focusing them through the prism of an ecumenical council, which he hoped would be a Pentecostal experience energizing the Church with new evangelical zeal.

John XXIII understood that the Gospel proposal could only be made by speaking to the modern world in a vocabulary the modern world could hear. Finding the appropriate grammar and vocabulary for contemporary evangelization didn’t mean emptying Catholicism of its content or challenge, however. As the Pope insisted, the perennial truths of the faith were to be expressed with the “same meaning” and the “same judgment.” Vatican II, in other words, was to foster the development of doctrine, not the deconstruction of doctrine. And the point of that doctrinal development was to equip the Church for mission and evangelization, for the modern world would be converted by truth, not ambiguity or confusion.

Over the past six and a half years, it’s become abundantly clear that more than a few Catholics, some quite prominently placed, still don’t get this history. Nor do the more vociferous elements in the Catholic blogosphere. Which is why I hope The Irony of Modern Catholic History helps facilitate a more thoughtful debate on the Catholic present and future, through a better understanding of the Catholic past.