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COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Parishes

The Mission Church Fund has announced the Grant Criteria and is accepting Applications!

"Dear all, First of all, I want to thank you for the great financial help you have given me, to be able to keep my church open during this time of the pandemic. For my part, in addition to being eternally grateful, I want to let you know that you will be in my prayers. God bless and protect you always."  Fr. S

"Foundations in Faith has proven to be a great relief for my parish in times of stress.  Foundations in Faith funds granted to my parish have allowed us to meet obligations that we would otherwise be unable to meet due to the financial crisis that we confront at the moment. We are sharing the news with our parishioners and the reaction we are seeing is very positive." Fr. F

Foundations in Faith Doubles Up on Funding for Parishes

 

COVID-19 Emergency Funding News: May 6th, 2020

Bishop Caggiano and the Diocese of Bridgeport presented a proposal in March to the Foundations in Faith Board of Trustees requesting that CIVID-19 Emergency Funding be made available to Parishes most in need during this crisis. Foundations in Faith, through the St. Francis Xavier Fund for Mission Churches, responded by initially committing $200,000 of funding. The Committee recently agreed to increase the total amount of funding available.

Eligibility: For a parish to be considered for such assistance, it must meet all of the criteria for eligibility listed below and will be required to submit an application to Foundations in Faith, to be vetted and recommended for action by the St. Francis Xavier Fund Committee of the Foundations in Faith Board of Trustees. The Committee will assume the responsibility of overseeing the distribution of grants from the Fund.

Criteria for eligibility: 1. Parish must have less than $100,000 in available reserves. Moneys held in permanently or temporarily restricted accounts are not counted in this total since they are not available to assist a parish’s immediate cash liquidity needs.

  1. Applications will be made to assist in meeting the parish’s ordinary financial obligations for a given month. Renewal of any application will be required if the parish seeks cash assistance beyond one month’s time.
  2. The application must include the parish’s ordinary expenses for the preceding month, including its diocesan financial obligations (including any self-insurance and cathedraticum payments due that month), and the revenue it expects to raise during that month, in order to quantify and specify the assistance that it seeks.

Proposed Application Process:

  1. All parishes seeking emergency financial assistance must first email Mike Hanlon, CFO of the Diocese at MHanlon@diobpt.org expressing interest in submitting a grant application for funding. Without the review and approval of the CFO, the pastor may not submit the application for a grant to the Board of Foundations in Faith.
  2. The parish will need to demonstrate a good faith effort that it is (i) engaging its parishioners in fundraising efforts during this time, for example establishing an online giving platform and (ii) pursuing other grant or reimbursable loan opportunities, such as the CARE Act options presented to the parishes last month.

Once a parish has been approved by the CFO to proceed, the applicant will receive the electronic Emergency Fund application from Foundations in Faith which should be submitted, with specified documentation as required, to Kelly Weldon, Director of Foundations in Faith at kweldon@foundationsinfaith.org. Applications will be presented to the Saint Francis Xavier Fund for Mission Parishes Committee for review and approval.

As of May 6th:

Foundations in Faith Doubles Up on Funding for Parishes During COVID-19

 

As of April 20th, we are pleased to announce:

FIF Distributes $100K in COVID-19 Emergency Funding to Parishes

 

On March 31st, 2020, Foundations in Faith Board of Directors approved an Emergency Funding proposal put forward by Bishop Caggiano. "In light of the extraordinary crisis that we are facing, it is proposed that portion of the St. Francis Xavier Fund for Mission Parishes be made available to grant limited emergency financial assistance to those parishes that face an immediate cash liquidity problem due to the COVID-19  Pandemic". The reality is our churches have been ordered to be closed for safety reasons; thus they are not able to pass the basket for weekly collections. These collections pay fixed cost bills such as utilities, staff salaries, internet for remote communications, even basic needs such as food for our Priests. Our Parishes are making drastic cost-cutting decisions. They are levering loans, grants, and government assistance but for some churches that will not be enough. On-line giving mechanism are being put in place, yet we recognize many folks will be impacted by this crisis too.

In the next few days, the St. Francis Xavier Committee will set forth the criteria and process for parishes who meet the criteria to apply. For more information, contact Kelly Weldon at kelly.weldon@foundationsinfaith.org

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Grants & Awards

There are 9 Funds created to support the mission of  Foundations in Faith. Four of these funds are currently active and distributing resources. They are; St. John Paul II Fund supporting Religious Education & Faith Formation, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Fund providing resources to keep Catholic education tuition affordable, St. Charles Borromeo Fund for our seminarians and St. John Vianney Retired Priest Fund.

Upon successful completion of the We Stand With Christ Campaign, the remaining 5 funds will begin distributing resources to comprehensively enhance pastoral care and add vitality to our life long Faith Journey as disciples of Christ. These Funds include: St Therese for evangelization, St. Catherine Center for Special Needs providing pastoral and educational support for individuals with disabilities, St. John Bosco Fund for students with learning disabilities in the Diocesan Catholic Schools, St. Francis Xavier Fund to support our own Mission Churches and the Lourdes Fund to support the spiritual needs of residents living in Catholic Nursing Homes

Some Funds/Ministries will apply for resources through a competitive grant process other Funds will be set up to distribute resources by awarding grants to established Diocesan entities providing quality services and meeting the criteria as established by the Board of Trustees.

Program Support Grants:

  • Open to all who meet criteria, competitive process, annual grant cycle, application, mid-year report, final report, site visits strongly encouraged. Many, midsized grants in a funding range of $1000-$10,000.

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Future Sub Category- Mini-Grants:

  • Coming in 2020
  • Open to all who meet criteria, funds are for specifically stated purposes, applications are accepted on a rolling basis,  reporting is less formal often during a site visit/meeting with the participants. Small grant amounts in the $500-$800 range, limited number.
  • (Mini-grants are tools to leverage or encourage a specific methodology and outcome. These mini-grants stimulate creative thinking and have tremendous impact.     Examples could include- youth designed projects (youth apply), youth ministers collaborating/job share, Parish to Parish collaborations, leadership development with Peer Learning and “teach backs” for individuals who attend conferences, retreats, workshops. Youth Driven.)

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General Operating Grants/Awards:

  • Not competitive, by invitation from the Bishop to a select few Diocesan programs that align with the curia's strategic vision and prioritized objectives.  A notification will be sent in January to the various Diocese of Bridgeport organizations with information on criteria. DOB organizations can submit a request for funding considerations. The requests will be reviewed by a small committee and a select few organizations will be invited by the Bishop to complete and application.  The Foundations in Faith Board of Trustees will consider approving the fund allocations in May or June. Supervision of the use of funds will be overseen by the Curia Leadership.
  • FIF examples- St. Charles Borromeo Seminary Fund, St. John Vianney Retired Priest Fund, St. Elizabeth Seton. JP II i.e. The Leadership Institute

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Numerous Grants and Awards totaling $437,000 for Pastoral Care Approved by the Foundations in Faith Board of Trustees in 2019

 BRIDGEPORT—On May 23, 2019 the board of trustee meeting began and closed with a prayer. The feeling of gratitude for the donors, priests, parish staff and the Catholic community who are all striving to grow closer to their faith and rebuild a community of compassion and devotion was abundant.

A full agenda included the St. John Paul II Fund Grant Review Committee recommendation for a total of $115,000 in funding for religious education and youth ministry programs in parishes across the Diocese of Bridgeport. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano stated that priority should be given to the projects or programs that demonstrate fresh new approaches in how we engage our parish members in faith formation.

According to Kelly Weldon, the Grant Review Committee consisted of five members: two Foundation in Faith board members, two staff at the Diocese of Bridgeport and one retired Director of Religious Education who is a strong community leader. The Grant Review Committee has met as a group four times for a total of approximately 20 hours per committee member. Every application was read, rated, reviewed and discussed as a committee.

“We were looking for innovation but also listening to needs that exist related to religious education,” says Weldon. “The committee dug deep and used great care to leverage the St. John Paul II funding for innovation as well as providing funding for parishes that need to shore up a solid platform to grow future innovative programs.”

“We are very excited about numerous vital new projects and look forward to showing them off and eventually replicating them in neighboring parishes” Weldon stated. “Of concern, however was the obvious existence of the ‘digital divide’. An issue that plagues Connecticut. Some parishes in our under-resourced communities lack the basic IT infrastructure to access current teaching tools for the youth and adult faith formation programs. It was also apparent that many parishes do not have money in their budget to hire a youth minister for the high school age youth.”

As one application reflected, “Confirmation does not mean graduation from learning about and experiencing the Catholic Faith. If we engage our teens after Confirmation, they will stay and grow into the next and needed generation of Catholic leaders.”

The Grant Review Committee agreed that parishes should make every effort to have an energetic, proactive youth minister and thus thought it was important to make a few, one-time investments. The committee felt that parishes will need to build the cost into their future budgets. It is evident that there is room for collaboration and youth minister job share opportunities are worth exploring. After meaningful discussion, the Foundations in Faith board unanimously approved the funding recommendations. The awardees will receive letters this week and a list of grants will be published on the Foundations in Faith website with regular project updates.

In addition to the St. John Paul II Fund grants, three other funds received board approval for funding. The St. Charles Borromeo Fund distributed $95,000 in awards for St. John Fisher Seminary, the Office of Vocations and Redemptoris Mater Diocesan Missionary Seminary. The St. John Vianney Fund, set up to support our retired priests, awarded $40,000 to Queen of the Clergy retirement residence for priests, located in Stamford, Conn. The Elizabeth Ann Seton Fund distributed $175,000 to support initiatives that provide special resources to our Catholic schools in order to keep tuition costs low and affordable to as many young people as possible.

Foundations in Faith currently has a total of eight funds; four are active and four await funding from the We Stand With Christ Campaign.

 

At the June Foundations in Faith an additional $22,000 of funding was approved. $10,000 for the Bishop's Youth in Action Grants and $12,000 in General Operating Grants for the Family Bible Challenge and Youth Retreat Stipends under the direction of the Leadership Institute.

(For more information and updates related to these Pastoral Care funds please visit: www.foundationsinfaith.org or email: kelly.weldon@diobpt.org.)

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2019 St. John Paul II Fund for Faith Formation and Youth Ministry Grant:
Responding to Bishop Caggiano’s invitation to lifelong formation, in February 2018, parishes were invited to reimagine faith formation at every level.  During 2018, the funds inaugural year, 32 grants were awarded and more than $115,000 was distributed to parishes in the diocese.

Parishes were encouraged to "think outside the box" to be innovate in Reimagining Faith Formation. The feedback and impact from this funding is exciting and we are in the process of measuring the impact of the initiatives. Based upon the many successes, Bishop Caggiano is excited to announce his commitment to build upon the momentum established with the JPII Fund grant awards in 2018.  We are  raising the bar with a deeper focus on Reimaging Faith Formation 2.0! According to Bishop Caggiano, we will actively seek religious education and youth ministry programs that create “innovation so great we will be compelled to replicate it in other parishes”.

Criteria: Grants may be used for projects in parishes within the Diocese of Bridgeport that

  • Creatively energize faith formation
  • Engage individuals/groups that have been underserved
  • Enhance ministry to welcome extended family members
  • Reflect and embrace the tenants of An Invitation to Life Long Formation published 9.19.17

 Funding: Grants in 2019 will range from $2,000 to $10,000

  • April 15, 2019                  Completed Applications are due
  • June, 2019                       Decision on funding approved by the Foundations in Faith Board
  • August 2019                    Funds distributed to recipients
  • September 25, 2019      JPII Fund Bishops Reception
  • January 2020                 Mid-year report due (An online form will be provided)
  •  May 1,  2020                  Final Report due (An online form will be provided)

*A small committee of Foundations in Faith Board members and diocesan community representatives will review the submitted applications and make funding recommendations to the board at the annual meeting in June. Awardees will be notified once approved.

Please email Kelly Weldon, Assistant to the Chairperson, Foundations in Faith  Kelly.Weldon@diobpt.org with questions. Thank you!