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: The Pell case: Developments down under

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

In three weeks, a panel of senior judges will hear Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of the unjust verdict rendered against him at his retrial in March, when he was convicted of “historical sexual abuse.” That conviction did not come close to meeting the criterion of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is fundamental to criminal law in any rightly-ordered society. The prosecution offered no corroborating evidence sustaining the complainant’s charge. The defense demolished the prosecution’s case, as witness after witness testified that the alleged abuse simply could not have happened under the circumstances charged — in a busy cathedral after Mass, in a secured space.

Yet the jury, which may have ignored instructions from the trial judge as to how evidence should be construed, returned a unanimous verdict of guilty. At the cardinal’s sentencing, the trial judge never once said that he agreed with the jury’s verdict; he did say, multiple times, that he was simply doing what the law required him to do. Cardinal Pell’s appeal will be just as devastating to the prosecution’s case as was his defense at both his first trial (which ended with a hung jury, believed to have favored acquittal) and the retrial. What friends of the cardinal, friends of Australia, and friends of justice must hope is that the appellate judges will get right what the retrial jury manifestly got wrong.

That will not be easy, for the appellate judges will have been subjected to the same public and media hysteria over Cardinal Pell that was indisputably a factor in his conviction on charges demonstrated to be, literally, incredible. Those appellate judges will also know, however, that the reputation of the Australian criminal justice system is at stake in this appeal. And it may be hoped that those judges will display the courage and grit in the face of incoming fire that the rest of the Anglosphere has associated with “Australia” since the Gallipoli campaign in World War I.

In jail for two months now, the cardinal has displayed a remarkable equanimity and good cheer that can only come from a clear conscience. The Melbourne Assessment Prison allows its distinguished prisoner few visitors, beyond his legal team; but those who have gone to the prison intending to cheer up a friend have, in correspondence with me, testified to having found themselves cheered and consoled by Cardinal Pell — a man whose spiritual life was deeply influenced by the examples of Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More during Henry VIII’s persecution of the Church in 16th-century England. The impact of over a half-century of reflection on those epic figures is now being displayed to Cardinal Pell’s visitors and jailers, during what he describes as his extended “retreat.”

Around the world, and in Australia itself, calmer spirits than those baying for George Pell’s blood (and behaving precisely like the deranged French bigots who cheered when the innocent Captain Alfred Dreyfus was condemned to a living death on Devil’s Island) have surfaced new oddities — to put it gently — surrounding the Pell Case.

How is it, for example, that the complainant’s description of the sexual assault he alleges Cardinal Pell committed bears a striking resemblance — to put it gently, again — to an incident of clerical sexual abuse described in Rolling Stone in 2011? How is it that edited transcripts of a post-conviction phone conversation between the cardinal and his cathedral master of ceremonies (who had testified to the sheer physical impossibility of the charges against Pell being true) got into the hands (and thence into the newspaper writing) of a reporter with a history of anti-Pell bias and polemic? What is the web of relationships among the virulently anti-Pell sectors of the Australian media, the police in the state of Victoria, and senior Australian political figures with longstanding grievances against the politically incorrect George Pell? What is the relationship between the local Get Pell gang and those with much to lose from his efforts to clean up the Vatican’s finances?

And what is the state of serious investigative journalism in Australia, when these matters are only investigated by small-circulation journals and independent researchers?

An “unsafe” verdict in Australia is one a jury could not rationally have reached. Friends of truth must hope that the appellate judges, tuning out the mob, will begin to restore safety and rationality to public life Down Under in June.

Featured image by CON CHRONIS/AFP/Getty Images