“A lot more people are praying and believing in God right now than did before the pandemic, and I’m one of them. I’m trying to find where I belong.” These words were shared recently by a guest of the St. Augustine St. Monica parish food pantry. A parish staff member had asked the guest if he had any prayer intentions or would like to pray together from a safe distance. This invitation led to a conversation about his search for meaning and for God, which has continued over the past several weeks. 

This guest is not alone in his search. Several others who live in the parish’s neighborhood were not ready to come to church due to the pandemic or for spiritual reasons. Yet they were seeking a safe, welcoming space to ask questions, connect with others, and get to know Jesus. St. Augustine St. Monica is meeting their needs by offering an outdoor, physically-distanced small group hosted by their evangelization team. The meetings allow for casual conversation, a brief Biblical teaching on questions such as “Why am I here? How can I find my purpose?” and discussion. 

St. Augustine St. Monica Catholic Church The St. Augustine St. Monica Food Pantry has adapted during the pandemic and is meeting increased need.

St. Augustine St. Monica Catholic Church is a thriving multicultural parish in Detroit whose mission is to announce the Good News of Christ by developing their talents to respond to the needs of their parishioners and everyone within their boundaries. In 2019, the parish received a $5,000 grant from the Catholic Foundation for a neighborhood evangelization project. The project seeks to better equip parishioners to share the Gospel in their daily lives and in direct evangelization efforts in the community. The grant helps to fund the full-time staff person who leads these efforts, as well as parishioner training, printed evangelization materials, and the costs associated with hosting events that are “shallow entry points” for the community. 

St. Augustine St. Monica Parish’s food pantry is also a grantee of the Catholic Faithful Response Fund.

“Jesus is the light in the darkness. He is shining His light on people suffering during the pandemic, suffering due to minimal access to food, and suffering due to lack of community. As we gradually re-open, our evangelization efforts have continued in a safe way. This is one way St Augustine St Monica Parish continues the mission to make disciples of all nations, by meeting people where they are and providing for both bodily and spiritual needs,” shares Genevieve Kocourek, Evangelization Coordinator for the parish. During the pandemic, the parish has continued and creatively adapted their evangelization in the neighborhood, both virtually and in-person. 

“The evangelization program has increased the faith of participants through their encountering Jesus on mission, which gives them confidence in God who works through them to reach others. It has also increased the faith of the surrounding community. Some neighbors have encountered Jesus very powerfully when being prayed with or through having conversations with parish evangelists that allow them to reflect more deeply on the mysteries of God,” Kocourek continues. 

Parishioners and visiting summer seminarians, who come voluntarily, are trained to evangelize and can participate

An evangelization workshop that took place earlier this year.

in direct evangelization efforts such as home visits and follow-ups and evangelizing at a local liquor store. Their effort also includes hosting summer events such as ice cream socials and bi-weekly summer basketball afternoons, helping to make the parish grounds a center of recreation in the neighborhood. Some of the efforts continue this year in an adapted way.

The evangelization team also has a presence at parish events such as Jazz on the Lawn and Trunk or Treat. The team runs the Alpha Program, which has been moved to an online format during the pandemic.

St. Augustine St. Monica also received a $2,500 grant in 2019 to celebrate the parish’s Feast Days in August. The three-day celebration strengthens and grows the parish family through a revival with dynamic preachers and a jazz festival that draws in many people who are not part of the parish. Visitors are able to meet parish members, see the church, and talk or pray with members of the evangelization team. 

Alpha retreat provided online and and outside

“People who have entered the Catholic Church in this parish in recent years have stated one of their reasons as seeing the love of members of the community. We desire that the love of Jesus Christ, enfleshed in our parish, goes out in our evangelization efforts and transforms people’s lives,” Kocourek shares.

The Catholic Foundation is energized by the creative and persistent ways that St. Augustine St. Monica parish is enfleshing Christ’s love in the community. Help us to increase our granting in 2020 to projects that are unleashing the Gospel in impactful, dynamic ways.

GIVE TO ST. AUGUSTINE ST. MONICA PARISH’S EFFORTS DURING COVID-19

 

Help us grant even more in 2020 for parish evangelization efforts

Above all, clothe yourself with love

and let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts.

– Colossians 3:9-17

 

As a community of faith, we grieve with all those who have experienced, because of racism, senseless acts of injustice that rob them of their human dignity.

We stand in solidarity and prayer with all those working to confront the sin of systemic racism that has caused so many tragic acts of violence towards our Black brothers and sisters and people of color. 

We support Pope Francis who said, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”

We echo the words of Archbishop Vigneron, who names “we are living in the wounds of many years of injustice in our local communities.” As such, the Catholic Foundation of Michigan confirms our call to work for peace, solidarity and justice in our community. The Gospel calls us to clothe ourselves with this radical love.

As your Catholic Foundation of Michigan, we are actively discerning concrete ways we can confront the sin of systemic racism in our community. We look to you to help us in this vital work.

You are always in our prayers.

 

Download a PDF of this statement.

The Catholic Foundation is proud to partner with organizations that foster compassionate leadership and inspire Catholic philanthropy. We are especially proud of our partnership with Austin Catholic High School alumni who have created not one, but four scholarship endowments through the Catholic Foundation and have showcased the power of Catholic philanthropy.

Austin Catholic High School is a co-ed comprehensive college preparatory school serving young men and women of all faiths coming from northern Macomb County, Rochester, Algonac/Marine City area and St. Clair Shores. Opened in 2011, Austin strives to cultivate healthy and resourceful students for college and beyond. 

“Austin is special because of the strong sense of community and family atmosphere,” shares Janel Coppens, Head of School of Austin Catholic High School. “Our focus on inviting all to our table is rooted in the Augustinian pedagogy and our core values of Truth, Unity and Love. We are part of a network of Augustinian schools (including Villanova University), around the world,” she continues.

“At Austin we are about community, our school community and the community at large. We guide our students toward seeking the truth from self-awareness, academics, and seeing God in others. This is instrumental for our students to become compassionate leaders,” reflects Kelli Horton, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement. 

Austin Catholic High School was a dream of many Catholic lay leaders in Macomb County since the early 1990s. In 2002 the Archdiocese of Detroit asked the Augustinians of the U.S. Midwest Province to sponsor and operate the new school. The Augustinians had founded and operated the original Austin Catholic Preparatory High School on Detroit’s east side from 1952 until it was closed in 1978. 

In 2017, a group of Austin Catholic Prep Detroit alumni that are involved with Austin Catholic High School wanted to recognize various members of their classes and make a gift to the new school, in recognition of the outstanding education they received from the Augustinian friars of their days. The Austin Catholic Prep Class of 1963 was the first to create a scholarship endowment through the Catholic Foundation of Michigan. They challenged other alumni groups to match their gifts. Since then, three other endowment funds have been opened for Austin High School. 

“Our Board of Directors believes that a Catholic education should not be just for the elite and they work to provide opportunities for all,” shares Coppens. The four endowment funds held by the Catholic Foundation of Michigan help make this possible by providing tuition assistance for Austin Catholic High School students. 

The Augustinian Scholarship endowment was started with a gift from the Midwest Augustinians to support the future of Austin Catholic and more generations of students. Two other endowment funds were opened in memory of an Austin Prep alumnus who has died. The Gary Evatz Memorial Scholarship endowment was created in memory by his wife, to honor his legacy and support of Austin and how much he valued his Catholic  education.

The Sharon and Rick Pine Scholarship endowment was created in memory of Rick by his wife Sharon and alumni of the Class of ’63. Rick was a standout athlete for Austin Prep Detroit and had the distinction of breaking a record in basketball previously set by famed player Dave DeBusschere.

Before Rick’s untimely death 14 years ago at age 60, he had been very involved, alongside other alumni from the Class of ’63, in trying to open a new Austin High School.

Rick Pine in 1963.

“Rick was well-liked by everyone and was very committed to seeing the new high school open. His high school class really stuck together; their experience had been transformative and they wanted to make that possible for students today,” says Sharon Pine. “Catholic schools are so important for the moral formation of young people and I am grateful that this endowment is helping provide that opportunity,” she continues.

Endowments are permanent funds that hold their principal in perpetuity and are invested for a particular purpose, such as tuition assistance. The endowment fund grows and makes annual distributions that support a beloved school for generations to come. They are a meaningful way to leave a legacy. 

Austin Catholic High School has found the experience of working with the Foundation to be positive. “The Catholic Foundation has been helpful and supportive of Austin and our goals to build funds that will support our school and families well into the future,” shares Coppens.

For those who are interested in getting to know the school better, the staff and students invite you to visit. She says, “We are small but mighty. Our students, staff, and families agree there is nothing quite like an Austin education and the value speaks for itself. Come and experience the Austin Advantage.”

The Catholic Foundation is committed to ensuring the holistic formation of our Catholic school students as joyful missionary disciples, for now, and for generations to come. To join us and open up an endowment for a school that you love, click here.

Give now to one of the Austin Catholic High School Endowments

 

Create an endowment for a Catholic school that you love.

One of the most rewarding aspects of receiving gifts from donors is hearing about what motivates them to give. This giving is a donor’s heartfelt, joyful response to gratitude and a deep commitment to their faithful values. 

We wanted to share some of the notes that have accompanied the hundreds of donations to the Catholic Faithful Response Fund over the past few months, so you too could gain a sense for the motivations of some of the gifts by many faithful people throughout southeast Michigan, and some from out of state, during this time. 

Giving in Honor of Someone who is Still Alive or has Passed Away

  • “I’m making a gift to the wonderful St. Al’s Parish, on the day of the 100th Birthday of the Polish Pope, St. John Paul II the Great” – Elizabeth 
  • “In memory of Antoinette” 
  • “I thank God for you, Aunt Joan, for your example of Faith. May God bless and protect you. St. Joseph, pray for us. I love you.” – Jill
  • “For all 12 Felician Sisters that have passed away since Easter. God bless them all.” – Mary
Giving In Gratitude for a Priest

  • “In honor of pastors and the great work they do for their flock. “ – Bob, with a gift to St. Clare of Montefalco
  • “I just watched Easter Mass on YouTube. Thank you, Fr. Patrick. It was very uplifting. Detroit has a special place in my heart. I am blessed to be able to make this donation for all of the great things your church is doing. God Bless your parish. In Christ’s Name, Amen. – Jack
  • “This gift is inspired by Fr. Patrick and the parishioners of Corpus Christi who are working to stream Mass” – Julie
Giving in Support of Food Banks

  • “Give to those who are in need.” – Robert, with a gift to Corpus Christi parish
  • “Thank you for feeding the hungry.” – Molly 
  • “This ministry follows in the footsteps of Jesus – serving and being present to the poor and vulnerable.” Francine, with a gift to Deo Gratias Ministries 

 

Giving in Support of Facilities Taking Care of Family Members or Friends:

  • “My sister lives at St. Louis Center for Exceptional Children and Adults. I am very familiar with their mission.” – Josh 
  • “This place has been a Godsend for my grandmother and all of their residents”  – Tracy, with a gift to Lourdes Senior Community

 

Giving More in Times of Greater Need:

  • “I donate to both organizations on an ongoing basis and decided to ‘throw-in’ a little more.” – Harry, with gifts to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and Pope Francis Center
  • “I’ve felt helpless sitting at home, unable to volunteer like we usually do at Pope Francis Center. This helps me feel like I can contribute something even at home.” – Victoria
Giving Alongside Prayer:

  • “I am on my knees saying my prayers to St. Joseph.” – Julie, with a gift to St. Joseph Shrine
  • “‘Whatever you did for one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did for me.’ Angels’ Place truly demonstrates Christ’s love by providing for those most in need.” – Kyle
Giving Because of Community Awareness:

  • “This is a great way for the community to come together. I didn’t know how to help or who needed assistance.” – Nick 
  • “Thank you for taking care of our community!” – Olivia
  • “I am so grateful for the support that Regina has given the girls during this difficult time. We are so blessed to be part of the Regina family.” – Cheryll

Will you experience the joy of philanthropy with us?
We are here to partner with you.
Join with us in giving today.