By Rebecca Harris
JACKON – The mission of the Catholic Foundation is to help our donors create a legacy by supporting their parish, school or organization within the Diocese of Jackson through planned giving gifts such as bequests, trusts and charitable gift annuities. Over the years, many families have chosen to start a family trust that support charitable works. Currently the Foundation has 38 such trusts. Parishes, schools and organizations within our diocese can submit a grant requesting funding for a project.
In the past five years the Catholic Foundation has awarded more than $290,000. Last year these trusts supported 26 projects throughout our diocese totaling more than $68,000. Twelve parishes received funding for their projects that helped to purchase religious education materials, after-school care, summer enrichment programs, church repairs and bilingual materials.
The Foundation made it possible for Houston Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish build a new handicapped ramp for their church. The previous ramp was steep and extremely dangerous. Now with the new ramp elderly and handicapped parishioners can safely enter the church.
At Indianola St. Benedict the Moor, a grant was awarded for outreach and evangelization in that community. “Our goal is to reach out to the unchurched in our community and educate them on our Catholic faith,” stated Jaqueline Mabace, outreach chairperson. “The grant enabled us to have a successful vacation bible school with children of all nationalities and faiths from our community,” she added.
The Foundation awarded grants to four of our Catholic Schools. Grants that built a new outdoor space and Greenville Our Lady of Lourdes and ELL tutoring at Jackson St. Richard. At Clarksdale St. Elizabeth School a grant added a promethean board to the fifth and sixth grade math and science room. “I wanted to provide an interactive and real-world learning experience. Even though our school is in rural Mississippi I wanted to bring the outside world into our classroom by using technology. If we would not have gotten this grant we would not have been able to have this is my classroom,” stated Jane Rutz, math and science teacher.
Grant awards went out to six organizations within our diocese. The Catholic Charities Shelter for Battered Families and Born Free and New Beginnings purchased supplies for their clients with grant money.
Funding was given for a computer lab at St. Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou. Many of the citizens of Mound Bayou cannot afford a home computer. They can go to the computer lab to work on homework, seek employment opportunities and learn computer skills. “Students that are seeking online college classes can come into the computer lab to work on their college courses. We also utilize the lab to help our GED students to prepare for the exam,” said Mavis Honorable, assistant director for St. Gabriel. “They work in conjunction with Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, to allow students to utilize the pre-testing center that will help them to pass their GED test,” she added
The Bishop’s Poor Soul Novena Trust helps to fund charitable projects that specifically fund senior citizens’ ministries. Last year four grants awarded includes Greenville Sacred Heart Parish community garden where parishioners do all the planting, watering and harvesting for their elderly neighbors in need. Jackson Christ the King Parish used their grant to promote healthier, happier lives for senior citizens by offering them opportunities to socialize and grow spiritually. Not only do Christ the King parishioners attend by invitations are extended to senior citizens of other faiths. Transportation is even provided if needed. “This grant allows us to have speakers on health issues, legal issues and scams that prey upon our senior citizens. The grant also helped to provide transportation to attend a civil rights museum event. We usually have 30 to 40 people in attendance,” stated Genevieve Feyen, senior activity chairperson.
It is not too late to submit a grant application for this year. Applications are being accepted through August 31. Contact Pam McFarland at email@example.com. If you would like to start a charitable works trust in your family name please contact Rebecca Harris at The Catholic Foundation, 601 960 8477 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Rebecca Harris is the director of Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Jackson.)