St. Francis Xavier Fund for Missionary Churches

providing resources to vibrant urban Parishes experiencing fiscal challenges

 

During this time of unprecedented prolonged hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Parishes have been critically impacted by dislocation, unemployment and illness. Despite the challenges, these Parish communities have stood strong as outstanding disciples of faith; by helping each other with child care, online learning, food sharing and being continually in prayer.

The SFX Fund provides an opportunity for us all to band together and declare that the COVID pandemic will not defeat us!  We will help our Brother and Sister Parishes survive, then thrive, because we are a family in faith. We are being called!

In 2020 The St. Francis Xavier Fund has distributed:

  • COVID 19 ‘Phase One’ Emergency Funding Grants to 11 Parishes totaling $230,000
  • Funding for a new boiler in a cold rectory - Bridgeport
  • Funding for a comprehensive parish Technology & Communication Enhancement Projects – Bridgeport

Please note, the St. Francis Xavier Fund is part of Foundations In Faith, a 501c-3 recognized charity that is committed to supporting and transforming pastoral ministries in the Diocese of Bridgeport

SFX has numerous opportunities to consider, ranging from shovel-ready capital projects to capacity building opportunities. The Catholic faith believes in justice and care for our brothers and sisters.  Investing in these opportunities will help offset the disparities evident in Fairfield County and within our Parish communities.

  • Shovel-Ready Capital Projects: includes funding outdoor stages and altars, water damage remediation, boiler and pipe replacements, expanding religious education classrooms and meeting spaces.
  • Capacity Building Projects: offers Parishes opportunities to enhance their building capacities. We are currently working with a Parish on their technology and communication structures to improve engagement with parishioners and enhance office operations.
  • Emergency Funding in response to unexpected crises. The SFX was quick to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic by distributing $230,000 to Parishes hardest hit by closures. We are poised to support our Parishes when crises occur.

Call to Action:  Our Catholic community cares deeply about the vulnerable and underserved parishioners within the Diocese of Bridgeport.  Financial issues and facility repairs are consuming our priests’ time and energy. We have identified the following opportunities to assist them:

  • Shovel-Ready Capital Projects:
    • New Boiler - $25,000 - $75,000; depending upon size of Parish
    • Outdoor Altar at the Cathedral Campus - $25,000
    • Annual Snow Removal/Lawn Care at Cathedral Campus - $11,000
    • Water Damage Abatement- $400,000+
  • Capacity Building Project costs vary by Parish but range from $5,000 - $25,000.
  • The Emergency Fund is strengthened by donations of any size. The average grant to Parishes has been $20,000.

 

 

"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

 

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:

 

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