Carmelites, schools see generosity through iGiveCatholic

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – This year’s iGiveCatholic one-day online giving campaign raised more than $5.6 million from 23,000 donors across the United States. The Diocese of Jackson raised $72,521 for parishes, schools and organizations.
This is the third year the diocese has participated in iGiveCatholic. Organizers sought to take advantage of a national philanthropy effort called Giving Tuesday, which falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a charitable counterpart to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. More dioceses have joined every year, making it a truly national effort. “It was so awesome to be join with other dioceses around the country. It helps us show our communities all the wonderful work Catholics are doing in our dioceses, said Rebecca Harris, executive director of The Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Jackson. The foundation covers the cost of participating so parishes and schools can keep all the money they raise.
The idea is simple, iGiveCatholic provides an online giving platform for parishes, schools and diocesan-sponsored organizations. Those who choose to participate select a particular project they want to fund. The organizations can promote the projects however they want. Many use videos, social media or internal community communications to raise awareness about their effort. Then, on Tuesday, Nov. 27, the website accepts donations for 24 hours.
This year’s top earner was the Carmelite Monastery in Jackson. The sisters need a new heating and air conditioning system at the monastery. “Most of us got sick last year because we had no A/C, we had no heat,” explained prioress Sister Jane Agonoy, OCD. They now have $17,000 to put toward the project. This is a good start, but will not pay for the whole system. “We go by faith, but proceeds were good enough to get started. We told them to start with where the sisters live.
The rest will just follow,” she added.
Sister Jane said she wants to thank all their benefactors from her heart. She believes the Sisters were successful in part because of efforts this year to raise awareness about the community and in part because people appreciate their work. “They can feel our prayers. Our benefactors might never see us in person, but they can feel our prayers. We really, really pray for them. We gather as a community seven times a day to pray the prayer of the church. It is our life. It is a sacrifice, but we do it for love,” she added. The Sisters also need to replace a collapsing brick wall around their property, but Sister Jane has faith that that project will also be completed.
Diocesan schools did well during the campaign. Jackson St. Richard came close to raising $10,000 to improve technology. Madison St. Joseph School will put $9,000 toward a new bus. Madison St. Anthony raised almost $7,500 and Jackson Sister Thea Bowman School raised almost $6,000.
“IGiveCatholic is a fun way for everyone in the Diocese of Jackson to feel connected. Following the leaderboard and watching the numbers climb is very exciting,” said Jennifer David, principal at St. Richard. She said their project falls in line with other improvements at the school. “Their generous gifts will make it possible to continue implementing our newly revised technology plan. We want St. Richard students to have access to cutting-edge technology as a way to enjoy and enrich their learning,” David added.
St. Joseph School principal Dena Kinsey said a bus will help both the students under her roof and those who may have siblings at other schools.“A school bus would allow us to shuttle students to school in the morning from Jackson, for families who find the commute to St. Joe a hardship. Our students are involved in many activities. A bus would provide transport to retreats, enable our fine arts students to perform at local elementary schools and nursing homes, take students to visit children at Blair E. Batson hospital, to away games for athletics and other activities,” she added.
Kinsey appreciates that the effort is elevated beyond the diocese. “I appreciate that IGiveCatholic is a national campaign which utilizes Giving Tuesday as a platform to come together as faithful stewards towards a specific goal, connecting with our current donors, and giving us the opportunity to build relationships with new supporters,” she explained.
Vicksburg Catholic School used videos to promote its project – a new awning to keep students dry when they leave St. Francis Xavier elementary on rainy days. “We have been talking about an awning for years,” said Kristi Smith, development director. Other needs, she said, would always take precedence. IGiveCatholic gave the school an opportunity to earmark money specifically for the project.
“We started piecing together those videos a couple of weeks ago when we were having torrential rains,” explained
Kristi Smith, development director. The kids sang their own version of ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’ in the promotional video on the school’s iGiveCatholic page. On Nov. 27, the school posted other photos and videos on its social media pages to encourage people to donate. Thanks to donors, the project is 61 percent funded. The school may utilize the videos and shoot some new ones as they continue their effort to raise the remaining money needed.
Parish projects included wireless internet access for Madison St. Francis Parish and rectory roof repairs at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle.