Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund now assisting diocesan parishes

Home Campaign program makes first distribution of funds to 12 Church ministries that help communities           

By Jim Wogan

It has been five years since the most ambitious capital campaign in the history of the Diocese of Knoxville began as a mission to strengthen and grow the Catholic Church in East Tennessee.

The Home Campaign helped build the diocese’s new cathedral, a project that received global acclaim. However, construction of the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was actually one of five overall components of the Home Campaign.

“The cathedral received a lot of attention, and rightfully so, but the Home Campaign was intended to be more than that,” Bishop Richard F. Stika said.

“We definitely needed a cathedral, but when we brought the idea for the campaign to pastors around the diocese, they requested a wider vision. Based on their input, the Home Campaign became that, a diocesan-wide effort to grow and strengthen parishes, to fund charity and education, and to give our priests a retirement with dignity,” Bishop Stika added.

The Home Campaign started in August 2014 with four parishes leading the way: All Saints, Knoxville; Sacred Heart Cathedral, Knoxville; St. John Neumann, Farragut; and the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Chattanooga. It took two years to complete parish participation in the campaign.

“While the Home Campaign officially ended in 2016, the results of the campaign continue to bear fruit all across the diocese today,” said John Deinhart, director of Stewardship and Strategic Planning for the Diocese of Knoxville. “The pledges that were made a few years ago are having a profound and positive impact on our parishes and ministries every day, and they will continue to for many years to come.”

Sacred Heart Cathedral St. Vincent de Paul Society builds a community garden for the neighborhood surrounding Catholic Charities of East Tennessee’s Knoxville office.

One of the campaign’s components, the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund, was created to accelerate charitable outreach at the parish level. In May, the fund’s board of trustees announced distributions totaling $51,500 for 2019.

“These are the first distributions made by the Pope Francis Fund, so it’s very significant for that reason,” Mr. Deinhart said. “We hope that these grants will have an accelerating effect for parishes, helping to add to their efforts. This is just the start. The process was new for us and for the parishes. Moving ahead, we hope to be able to distribute at least $100,000 per year to parishes for their charitable projects.” he said.

The matching grants were capped at $5,000. The board of trustees approved 12 requests submitted by parishes for 2019.

The Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus: ($1,500) The cathedral parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society is creating a community garden on land currently located at the Catholic Charities of East Tennessee office on Dameron Avenue in Knoxville.

The intent is to provide a garden for an area that is considered low income, and where the homeless and hungry tend to gravitate, offering fresh vegetables to those in need.

St. Albert the Great, Knoxville: ($3,000) The St. Albert the Great Cor-poral Works of Mercy Committee coordinates seasonal opportunities assisting children participating in the Mountain Arts Program in Newcomb, Tenn. The parish provides supplies annually to prepare children with new backpacks and other items for the new school year.

With matching funds from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund, the parish is increasing the number of backpacks and supplies offered. Additionally, the parish will provide back-to-school food baskets and new items of clothing for participating children.

St. Mary, Gatlinburg: ($4,000) The St. Mary Social Action Committee serves the poor and offers resources that provide stability to families in the Gatlinburg area.

With matching funds from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund, the committee is expanding the distribution of food and hygiene delivery bags and is assisting Latino families with life skill classes, assistance to attend English classes, and to help them better understand the need for personal documents and how to retain them as well as information to assist with health-care needs.

St. Alphonsus, Crossville: ($5,000) St. Alphonsus Community Services and parishioners volunteer time and money to the local Bread of Life Mission, which provides meals and shelter for those in need. St. Alphonsus will expand its current volunteer efforts to help cover the cost of providing meals and will coordinate with volunteers to serve meals.

With matching funds from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund, the parish estimates it can now provide $200 per week to purchase food items for those in need.

St. Teresa of Kolkata, Maynardville: ($5,000) St. Teresa of Kolkata helps those in need in Union and Grainger counties by assisting with utility bills, rent, and other special requests such as household items.

With matching funds from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund, the parish will expand its current outreach to assist with larger medical bills as well as items for children such as new winter coats, school supplies, and children’s beds.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Chattanooga: ($5,000) The parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society is the only one of its kind in the Chattanooga area. It serves those in need by assisting with housing, water, electricity, and food requests. Need is assessed through in-person home visits, with 977 people served last year.

The parish has been unable to meet all requests in previous years. OLPH will use matching funds from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund to expand its reach.

Church of the Good Shepherd, Newport: ($5,000) The St. Vincent de Paul Society at Good Shepherd is using matching funds from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund to respond to the needs of the poor of Cocke County on a year-round basis. In previous years the parish had to limit the amount of help it could provide due to depleted funds.

With help from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund, Good Shepherd is increasing assistance for clients’ utility bills, rent, motel costs for the homeless, and for food and gasoline.

St. Anthony of Padua, Mountain City: ($5,000) The St. Anthony Bread food pantry is a parish ministry that provides Johnson County families with groceries each month. The food pantry will use matching funds from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund to initiate an additional program focused on families with children.

The parish plans to add a nutrition program for children that will provide an additional bag of child-friendly, healthy food options that children can prepare themselves. The bag will contain fresh produce and dairy items. The parish expects 120 families to sign up for the program.

St. Dominic, Kingsport: ($3,000) The St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Dominic assists with utility bills after in-person visits and assessments of need. The parish also refers clients to other agencies when needed.

New ministry opportunities with matching funds from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund will assist clients who are in need of dental work and with outreach to the community to help fill the gap for those who are out of work.

St. John Paul II Catholic Mission, Rutledge: ($5,000) This rural Catholic mission will use matching funds from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund for Mercy House, which provides direct service to the poor by offering food baskets and clothing. Additional funds will meet needs for work shoes, furniture, and clothing.

The matching funds will also expand the Hands of Christ Food Pantry, which offers food vouchers, turkey giveaways at the holidays, and food baskets to local agricultural workers. Matching funds will assist in expanding outreach and re-stocking the food pantry shelves.

St. Mary, Johnson City: ($5,000) The St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Mary helps pay for critical living expenses such as rent, mortgage or utilities, and diapers and food for families without resources. With additional funding through the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund, the society is expanding its network of support.

It also has identified a potential need to assist veterans in the Johnson City community.

St. Patrick, Morristown: ($5,000) The St. Patrick Catholic Church Samaritans provide help to Hamblen County residents and to St. Patrick parishioners by paying a portion of their utilities or rent, and offering food gift cards for local grocery stores that may help with food and/or gasoline.

With matching funds from the Pope Francis Charitable Trust Fund, the St. Patrick Samaritans plan to increase the assistance they provide, particularly in extreme circumstances and for larger expenses if the need arises.

The application process for parishes to receive grants started in February.

“This is more than just a beginning,” Bishop Stika said. “The Pope Francis Fund is a significant part of the Home Campaign, and it demonstrates the commitment of our diocese, our priests and religious, and especially our parishioners who answered the call to grow all of the charitable efforts in the diocese.”

Mr. Deinhart pointed out that more than 9,000 people made pledges to the Home Campaign. Overall, the Home Campaign raised $45.3 million, with nearly $22 million projected for non-cathedral-related components, including charity, education, parish projects, and priest retirement.

“I’d like to thank all those who gave so much of themselves to make this campaign a great success, from the leadership provided by our priests and parish staffs, to the parish volunteers, and most importantly to all the donors and benefactors who provided their financial support for these important initiatives. Their efforts will have a profound effect for the diocese for years to come,” Mr. Deinhart said.

 

In future issues, The East Tennessee Catholic will profile other components of the Home Campaign and how they’ve impacted parishes and the diocese.

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