Sunday, January 23, 2022

A Positive Challenge for Gallup’s Diocese: Building a Seminarian Endowment

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Suzanne Hammons is the editor of the Voice of the Southwest and the media coordinator for the Diocese of Gallup. A graduate of Benedictine College in Kansas, she joined the Diocesan staff in 2012.

In the beginning of 2019, Catholic Extension named the Diocese of Gallup as one of seven Dioceses to receive a Seminarian Endowment Challenge.

Catholic Extension, a national agency which assists mission dioceses through grants, established the Seminarian Endowment Challenge in 2012 in response to the growing cost of assisting dioceses in educating their future priests.

“While seminarian education has always been an important strategic funding area for Catholic Extension, this growth in requests highlights the increasing gap between a diocese’s cost to educate seminarians and a diocese’s ability to fund them,” the agency wrote in a letter accompanying the announcement. “In order to meet this cost, mission dioceses are making difficult decisions to cut services, reduce staff, and draw down the principal of existing endowments, thus risking harm to the long-term health of the diocese.

The Diocese of Gallup has no endowment currently in place, or even a single parish or city from which to rely on regular or increased fundraising efforts for seminarians’ education, according to Cathy McCarthy, who applies for grants on behalf of the diocese. Many of her applications are directed toward Catholic Extension, and she noted that the annual collection taken up on behalf of the agency often ultimately ends up back in the Gallup diocese.

“Catholic Extension has a second collection that exists for areas like ours where it’s hard to keep priests and the sacraments present and the church doors open. Now that we’re through the Chapter 11, we’re going to try to build an endowment and the monies raised will go towards our mission diocese investment fund for seminarians only, set up by the Catholic Peoples Foundation,” she said, referring to the Gallup agency set up to organize and assist the Diocese of Gallup in fundraising efforts.

To build the endowment, a diocese must raise matching funds of up to $50,000 – the largest single amount granted to a diocese by Catholic Extension – and which the Diocese of Gallup has been challenged to raise.

But the funds aren’t meant to be raised through small collections or donations. The goal for the challenge is to receive larger single donations of $1000 or more, through fundraising inside or outside the borders of the Gallup diocese.

This way, McCarthy says, the endowment will be built by donors interested in the long-term positive impact that vocations and seminarians bring to a diocese.

“The whole thing is to develop awareness, and to keep these donors coming back.”

Because the Diocese of Gallup is just beginning to establish a long-term seminarian fund, obtaining the matching grant is the sole focus of the year.

“We’re so bare bones, we’re just building, building, building,” McCarthy said. “In this sense, we want to put a seed in. We’re putting a seed in for an endowment in the future, and an incentive for donors to come on board.”

Those with inquiries or donations regarding the fund can direct their questions to the Catholic Peoples Foundation. The deadline for donations is December 13th, 2019.


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