Annual Catholic Foundation meeting celebrates accomplishments

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – On Tuesday, Oct. 25, the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Jackson held its annual membership meeting along with the board of directors meeting at the Country Club of Jackson.

Board president, Joe Rice, Jr. of St. Richard Jackson, led those gathered through the election and re-election of the board of directors for the Foundation. Six members rolled-off board service this year, leading to the election of Beth DeGruy of St. Richard Jackson; Joseph P. Gray of Cathedral of St. Peter Jackson; Will Jemison of Christ the King Jackson; Robert Perry of St. John Oxford; and Key Smith of St. Mary Basilica Natchez at the event.

Catholic Foundation, executive director Rebecca Harris then led members on a journey through all the Foundation accomplished over the past year.

The Foundation currently manages assets in excess of $57 million and Harris reported that the Foundation was able to mitigate some of the losses due to the market in today’s economy to be able to continue all of the good works the Foundation supports.

JACKSON – Rebecca Harris, executive director of the Catholic Foundation, completes a “year in review” at the annual dinner and membership meeting, held at the Country Club of Jackson, on Tuesday, Oct. 25. (Photo by Joanna Puddister King)

The Foundation manages 35 trusts that grant monies to parishes, schools and Catholic ministries in the diocese. This year, 25 grants were awarded that totaled over $69,000.

“These were grants that were for anywhere from renovating a rectory to curriculums in our Catholic Schools to Catholic Charities being able to provide women who are in dire need of work that helps them to bring their child into this world,” said Harris.

“And I think as a Catholic organization that is so important, and near and dear to all of us that there are children that are going to be born this year and that we were able to help them.”

One area that few parishes apply for grants is in senior citizen ministry, explained Harris. “I hope in the future that they do … we’ve got a lot more that we could grant.”

The Catholic Foundation has 393 trusts that they administer and boasts over 800 members that support the work of the Foundation. Through membership fees, the Foundation allows the annual distributions to go directly to the beneficiaries – schools, parishes and catholic ministries.

“These membership fees allow me to run the Catholic Foundation office, along with proceeds from the Bishop’s Cup tournament and charge no management fees to beneficiaries,” said Harris.

To those gathered, Harris also reported on the annual Bishop’s Cup golf tournament. In the 40th year for the event, the Foundation was able to raise $43,000. Harris thanked all for their support of the event saying, “we were able to keep expenses lower than they ever have been … so we have more money to help operations and to help with future grants.”

“We can’t do all the things we do without the help of our members,” said Harris. “We need you and we need many other people to understand what we do and how we do it.”

The Catholic Foundation is not competition for parishes, Harris explained. “We work with parishes to help them grow the things they can do in their parishes.”

Next year, the Catholic Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In 1973, Bishop Brunini called a group of community leaders together from across the diocese to form the foundation.

In his closing remarks, Bishop Joseph Kopacz noted that the returns on investment in general have been down, but equated the Catholic Foundation as “Joseph in Egypt.”

“During the years of plenty, [Joseph] put aside a great deal of the harvest in order to face the years of famine and was able to serve the people of Egypt and the surrounding area because of that prudent decision,” said Bishop Kopacz.

“So, the Foundation has done the same in these ‘lean’ years. … This year we still have been able to give the full distribution that has been given over the last number of years. And that is wise stewardship.”
Closing the event with prayer, Bishop Kopacz asked God for His blessing on the Foundation.
“May we continue to grow and be faithful to You and to serve the people entrusted to us.”

For more information on the Catholic Foundation visit: or call (601) 960-8477.