By Rose Brennan
June was a busy month for Foundations in Faith. But it was also one filled with joy, as the Diocese begins to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and return to some semblance of normal.
And that was reflected in the foundation’s June board meeting. It was the first time its members were able to meet in person since the pandemic started, which was celebrated with a dinner.
According to the foundation’s director, Kelly Weldon, while the board was able to continue its work over Zoom, there’s just something special about meeting together in person rather than over a screen, especially when it comes to helping the Diocese’s pastoral ministries.
“We hadn’t seen each other for almost two years,” Weldon said. “It’s almost like hitting a restart button of sorts, and bringing back some energy and bringing back some social events to the work we’re doing. Collaboration and camaraderie are key to building a cohesive team.”
But dinner wasn’t the only order of business that evening. The Foundations in Faith board also had to decide who among many applicants would receive grants from three of their nine funds for pastoral ministries.
Luckily, due to the success of the We Stand with Christ campaign, there were resources available to allocate, resulting in the launch of two other funds. And following the meeting, 17 Diocesan ministries received grants from one of the funds the foundation oversees.
The heavy hitter of the evening was quite clearly the St. John Paul II Fund for Religious Education and Faith Formation. Fourteen parishes received grants from the fund during this cycle, totaling $87,500.
The Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford was lucky enough to receive two grants from the St. John Paul II Fund. One of them provided funding for its Catholic Adventures program, while the other provided 15 half-scholarships for members of its youth group to attend Camp Veritas, a Catholic summer camp.
Three of the grants went to missionary urban parishes. Among them were St. Mary Parish in Stamford, which plans to use the grant to fund a religious education project for its younger members, St. Augustine Cathedral Parish in Bridgeport, which will help start a CCD program and hire a director of religious education, and St. George Parish in Bridgeport, which aims to fund a children’s ministry, a children and teen choir and a family catechesis program.
Other recipients of grants from the St. John Paul II Fund included the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Quasi Parish and St. Ann Church in Bridgeport, Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Fairfield, St. Paul Roman Catholic Church in Greenwich, St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, St. Patrick Church in Redding, Holy Name of Jesus Church in Stratford, Christ the King Parish and St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, and Church of the Assumption in Westport.
Foundations in Faith also provided two grants through its St. Therese Fund for Evangelization, totaling $33,000 between them.
One of the grants went to the Diocesan Young Adult Council to create a local chapter of Young Catholic Professionals. According to the council, this will be part of a larger effort by Bishop Frank Caggiano to create a Young Catholic Pastoral Center for the Diocese.
And speaking of Bishop Caggiano, he’s a part of the second effort the St. Therese Fund helped sponsor. Veritas Catholic Radio is home to a radio show titled “Let Me Be Frank,” which stars none other than the Bishop himself. The show is now sponsored by Foundations in Faith, complete with funding from the St. Therese Fund.
“The ‘Let Me Be Frank’ radio show is a great example of our approach as far as being innovative and looking at things differently,” Weldon said. “When the idea was put forward that we consider funding the Bishop’s radio show, we were intrigued. It was a win-win, and it was a really neat fit for the fund’s mission of evangelization. Supporting Veritas Catholic Radio with such a strong connection to the Diocese was a compelling opportunity. And what better connection to the Diocese than the Bishop?”
Finally, the St. Catherine Center for Special Needs received a $33,000 grant through its eponymous fund. The grant went toward providing the center with a new wheelchair-accessible van, as the old one had fallen into disrepair.
According to Weldon, caring for people with disabilities can and should be an essential part of the Diocese’s pastoral care efforts. And luckily, that sentiment is shared among her colleagues.
“Years ago, Bishop and the board felt strongly that our individuals with significant intellectual disabilities needed to be included in pastoral care and support,” Weldon said. “We were super excited to provide them with a first-time grant for a handicap-accessible van.”
Foundations in Faith’s board will meet again at the end of September. As of right now, the foundation has awarded grants from eight of its nine funds. Last, but certainly not least, is the Lourdes Fund for Pastoral Care at Catholic Nursing Homes, which would provide funding for programs at three Catholic nursing homes within the Diocese.
The nursing homes that would benefit from the Lourdes Fund grants would be St. Joseph Center in Trumbull, St. John Paul II Center in Danbury, and St. Camillus Center in Stamford. And according to Weldon, getting grants for them off the ground will be a top priority for Foundations in Faith’s board at their September meeting.
“When you launch a fund, it can sometimes be complicated,” Weldon said. “When we first reached out to the three Catholic nursing homes to begin a relationship and engage them in conversations about their needs, we realized that we weren’t going to be able to bring them forth in the June meeting. We weren’t ready and wanted to do it right. So in September, we will be bringing forward grant requests and recommendations to the board.”
This means all nine of Foundation in Faith’s funds will soon be active. And to Weldon, that’s a dream come true.
“It’ll be so exciting to have all nine funds actively funding pastoral care ministries here in the Diocese,” Weldon said. “It’s been a goal, made possible by the We Stand with Christ campaign, the Foundations in Faith board, and of course the Holy Spirit.”
To learn more or to donate, visit foundationsinfaith.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.