“Throughout her courageous four-year battle with cancer, Mary Sue never lost focus on her passion for the unborn and her genuine concern for others. She had an uncanny ability to step into the shoes of others in need. She was the most devoted faith-filled person that I’ve ever met, and stunningly beautiful on the inside and out. Everyone says that,” shares Bill Terrasi, her husband of over 30 years. 

Mary Sue Terrasi passed away Mary Terrasi Obituary, at age 62. Mary Sue had an unwavering faith in God and her mission in life was to care for others, especially the unborn, the elderly and the sick. After her career as a geriatric nurse, she volunteered supporting adult day care. She brought Holy Communion to many in-home individuals and nursing home residents as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist at St. Michael Church. She also volunteered for Heartbeat of Monroe and was an ardent right-to-life activist.

“When we were children, Mom met a young, pregnant woman. Uncertain about raising a baby, this woman did not have the means or support with which to envision a future with a child. From then on and over the years, Mom supported her with rides, visits, meals, diapers, and unwavering encouragement. These collective acts of giving, more than anything else, are how she honored new life,” shares Becky Gartman, Mary Sue and Bill’s oldest daughter. 

Over the past year of his grief journey, Bill began thinking and praying about how to continue Mary’s legacy of pro-life advocacy. Out of the blue, he received a call from Brad Smith at Right to Life of Michigan. One of the fruits of their conversations was that Brad suggested contacting the Catholic Foundation about creating a fund in Mary’s name. 

“There are so many pro-life organizations out there. I knew we did not need to start another one. I looked into establishing our own family foundation, but there is a lot involved and it didn’t seem like the best way to start,” Bill shares.

Bill decided to create a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) with the gifts offered in memory of Mary Sue. A DAF is a flexible giving tool that is established by a simple agreement, and with it, the Catholic Foundation provides the distribution, reporting, and grant-making services. 

DAFs work a lot like mini family foundations and benefit the greater community,” says Angela Moloney, President and CEO of the Foundation. “Others can contribute to the fund at any time, and then Bill and his daughters, whom he selected as fund advisors, can grant to the causes most in need that uphold Mary Sue’s passion – the sanctity of life.” 

Bill named the fund Ius Vitae – Mary Sue Terrasi Memorial Fund. Ius vitae means right to life in Latin. One unique aspect of the fund is that annually, a distribution will be made for a memorial scholarship at Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central High School (SMCC). His daughters, who are alumnae, will be judges of an annual scholarship essay contest in which students will address the topic “Why I am pro-life.”

“Being a judge of an essay contest for my alma mater will be really special, but honoring my mother and her mission in this way means the world to me. Attending SMCC was an amazing experience, and my time there helped shape the woman I am today—as well as being raised by such Christ-centered parents. I’m honored to provide a scholarship to these young adults and view their reflections on the importance of being pro-life,” shares Amy Diehl, one of Mary Sue and Bill’s three daughters.

“Remembering and honoring Mary in this way is painful in that it forces me to relive a lot of memories, but it is also inspiring and hopeful. By opening a fund with the Foundation, we have a much greater opportunity to establish a lasting legacy for my bride, as opposed to doing it on my own,” Bill reflects. 

By opening a fund with the Foundation, we have a much greater opportunity to establish a lasting legacy for my bride, as opposed to doing it on my own. – Bill Terrasi

He continues, “The Catholic Foundation’s fees are extremely reasonable. Starting a new 501(c)3 organization or family foundation would’ve been much more costly, which would’ve taken away from the impact of the fund. What is more, the Foundation is already well-known, established, and very professional. It gives credibility to the cause we are promoting.”

Elizabeth Giarmo, one of Mary Sue and Bill’s daughters, shares about her mother’s legacy, “My mother was a beacon of light, a servant follower of Christ, and a fierce fighter for the unborn. Though she is tremendously missed, I am honored to carry on her dedicated mission. Her legacy will live on through these efforts.”

“Mary Sue always said that a person’s stance on abortion is a window into their soul. I wish more people had conviction about something as much as she did,” Bill shares. And for those inspired by her conviction, he invites a gift to the fund to continue her work and passion. 

The Catholic Foundation is privileged to offer opportunities for people to honor their loved ones and continue their legacy through making an enduring philanthropic impact. Can we help continue the passion of someone you love? Explore the possibility of creating a fund today.


Read More: Why Consider a Catholic Fund Over a Family Foundation?

In late 2018, the Catholic Foundation shared the story of one family’s generous decision to open a fund with the Foundation for St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic School, in honor of the family’s mother, Mary Frances Donahoe and aunt, Elizabeth Hodgin.

The Mary Frances Donahoe and Elizabeth Hodgin Tuition Assistance Fund provides multiple students tuition support for their nine years of study. Two cycles of students have now received funding.

This year, Ann Crowley, Principal at St. Clare of Montefalco School, provided a heartwarming, meaningful update about how this fund is changing lives at their school. 

Our entire community is blessed in so many ways by the gift in the memory of these wonderful women. – Ann Crowley, Principal

Mary Frances Donahoe and Elizabeth Hodgin

“Our entire community is blessed in so many ways by the gift in the memory of these wonderful women,” Ms. Crowley said. “We want to let you know how the spirits of Mary Frances Donahoe and Elizabeth Hodgin touched the children’s lives this school year. They brought great comfort to these little ones and are helping them have their dreams come true.”

It was a year of pain and loss for the school; the community of students’ parents and grandparents lost at least 13 adults to COVID-19 during the Easter season. Many others had relatives who were survivors. And it was also a year of many bright spots – a drone field trip in the gym, an all-school field trip to Blake’s Cider Mill, iPad centers in all classrooms, and the Big Buddies pairing program between younger and older students, to name a few. And during the period of distance learning, there was a feeling of security in receiving daily lessons and being with the teachers virtually throughout each day.  

Thanks to the generosity of one family, eight students so far, in kindergarten and first grade, have received full scholarships/tuition assistance for their entire time at St. Clare. Many of them have relatives in the school and relatives who are alumni. Some descriptions from Ms. Crowley about these eight students include: 

“His spiritual connectedness to his teacher and love of coming to school helped him embrace learning.”

“He answered many of Fr. Andrew’s questions during weekly mass.”

“His favorite activity is sounding out any word he sees and he was able to advance two reading levels in his small class this year. He has a great sense of humor.”

“She has a unique personality and is outgoing in so many ways. Her classmates enjoy her, and she is a hit whenever she is on stage.”

“She is a leader in the classroom and helps her classmates when they need assistance.”

“The small class sizes brought a true family feel to all those in each classroom,” Ms. Crowley shares. We are grateful to the Donahoe family for their generosity which is helping provide hope for the future at St. Clare of Montefalco school!

The Catholic Foundation is building tuition assistance and scholarship funds for families and schools who wish to honor or memorialize loved ones like this. How can we help you?

Create your own Tuition Assistance Fund or Scholarship for a school you love.
Learn more and contact the Catholic Foundation today.

Give now to the Mary Frances Donahoe & Elizabeth Hodgin Tuition Assistance Fund

Most Holy Trinity (MHT) Catholic School is a Christ-centered community for PK-8 grade dedicated to furthering the religious, academic, social and physical growth of the whole child. Academic excellence, respect, responsibility and the importance of racial and cultural diversity are taught and modeled. The school’s objective is to create a safe learning environment where all children will succeed.

The Catholic Foundation of Michigan is grateful to partner with MHT School in its mission to provide a high-quality Catholic education to all its students. 

“We are a small Catholic school that has been of service to its community for over 180 years. We have a diverse faith population. Our teachers share their faith openly and honor our students’ personal beliefs. Our students care for their community by hosting annual collections for food and toiletry items for Most Holy Trinity Parish’s outreach program,” shares Ms. Karina Lepkowski, Principal of Most Holy Trinity School. 

Art Getz’s fond, longtime relationship with MHT School and the Corktown community began in 1965 when he played for the MHT School travel baseball team coached by Victor Venegas. Art stayed connected with the school and after graduating from college he coached numerous MHT grade school teams in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). Art really enjoyed the students and the opportunity to coach them. 

Betsy and Art Getz, with four of their grandchildren, who attend St. Paul Catholic School, in Grosse Pointe Farms.

About 15 years ago, Victor approached Art to support the athletic programs for MHT. Because he had really enjoyed the students and the experience of coaching them, Art has remained very involved with fundraising efforts to provide more opportunities for MHT School students. Msgr. Chuck Kosanke, pastor of Most Holy Trinity Parish, told the Getz family about the Catholic Foundation and the opportunity to support MHT students with a scholarship fund.

“We decided to create a scholarship fund to provide more opportunities for students to obtain a high-quality, faith-based education. Our faith in Jesus Christ leads us to support those who are less fortunate,” Betsy and Art share. 

MHT School wants every child to have access to the high-quality Catholic education it offers its students. Most MHT students are granted some kind of financial assistance, and the Getz Scholarship Fund helps to enable MHT to make Catholic education possible for students with financial obstacles. 

“Through working with the Catholic Foundation, we have met a number of fine individuals, and are inspired with the magnitude and scope of the organization,” Art and Betsy share. “We wholeheartedly encourage anyone interested in setting up a scholarship at a Catholic school to contact the Catholic Foundation. We strongly believe in Catholic education, and are pleased that five of our school age grandchildren are attending high-quality, faith-based schools.”

For those who are interested in learning more about the school, Ms. Lepkowski says, “​I welcome them to come by for a tour. Our doors are always open to anyone who is interested in learning more about our mission. We welcome collaboration and finding new ways to support our students and community.” She can be contacted at klepkowski@mostholytrinityschool.org.

Give now to the Getz Scholarship Fund for Most Holy Trinity School

Create a Scholarship Fund for a school you love.

The 11th chapter of Hebrews opens with a description of faith as the “evidence of things not seen.” As people of faith, our hope lies in the Kingdom of God, revealed to us by the teachings, life and death of Jesus Christ.

We all have a sense, and our current context makes it even more clear, that the way our world works is not aligned with God’s vision for the world–where the inherent dignity of each person is recognized, and where mercy, compassion and justice reign.

There is so much suffering in our world, and we look to the witness provided by the saints to guide us in bringing God’s kingdom. St. Katharine Drexel, the Foundation’s patron saint and the founder of The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, is an inspiring model in the pursuit of racial justice. Promoting racial justice is a priority in the Foundation’s work and we hope that you’ll read more below about her witness and our commitments.

This summer, we feature numerous donors and funds that are modeling ways of “walking by faith, not by sight,” (2 Cor. 5:7) living in a way that is aligned with God’s Kingdom and dreams for the world.

We pray for each of you reading these articles. We are grateful for your faithfulness and generosity. We’d love to hear from you and see how we can support your faithful, impactful giving.

Give Faithfully and Abundantly With Us

On March 1, 2020 Archbishop Vigneron announced that Pope Francis has granted the title of Minor Basilica to Ste. Anne Church in Detroit. “As our founding parish, Ste. Anne was among the first fruits of a new missionary diocese. In the church’s designation as a basilica, it will stand as a profound reminder to all who visit of our continuing mission to unleash the Gospel in our communities,” Archbishop Vigneron stated in the Archdiocesan announcement.  

Ste. Anne is one of 86 churches in the United States—and only the third church in Michigan—to hold the title of Minor Basilica.The title is given to churches around the world to denote a particular importance in the liturgical and pastoral life and a closer relationship with the pope. 

Ste. Anne Parish de Detroit was founded in 1701 and is the second oldest continuously operating parish in the United States. Ste. Anne’s basilica is a place of pilgrimage for thousands and is the burial place of Fr. Gabriel Richard. It is also a vibrant, multicultural parish that hosts an abundance of ministries.

“When I made a pilgrimage to Ste. Anne Church and attended mass there for the first time a couple of years ago, I was really captivated,” shares Frank Roney, who is chair of the renovation project committee. “It has been a rock for the Catholic faith in our city and has been a spiritual home for so many immigrants to Detroit, especially the French, Irish, and Hispanics. So I was moved to help in the efforts to restore the basilica to its former glory”.

The parish is preparing for a $23 million restoration campaign. Phase one is to raise $15 million for exterior repairs and an HVAC system. In addition, in 2017 Msgr. Kosanke, through the support of generous patrons, opened the Ste. Anne de Detroit Restoration and Maintenance Endowment with the Catholic Foundation. This fund helps ensure ongoing operating and maintenance costs in perpetuity. 

  During the recent stay-at-home order, the parish offered Eucharistic adoration from the roof as well as parking lot confessions. They also brought a Eucharistic procession to the streets, which was an idea that started with the youth, who wished to share the opportunity for Eucharistic adoration with those who were elderly or sick. “There were bells ringing and speakers playing contemporary Christian music in Spanish throughout southwest Detroit. It was really beautiful,” shares Fr. Ryan Adams, Associate Pastor. 

Many parishioners and their neighbors are currently out of work, due to the pandemic. The parish’s weekly food pantry have seen greatly increased needs, from 30 families to 150 families weekly. Ste. Anne’s has worked to find funding to help those in need cover immediate needs like utilities payments. “We are not a rich parish, but we want to make sure those inside our community and in our neighborhood have their basic needs met,” shares Fr. Ryan.

The parish also offers a lot of programming for the youth. “The majority of the youth are Latino, and they have been raised with a strong-rooted Catholicism. For them, family life is so important and really nourishes their faith,” Fr. Ryan says. 

Faith formation for youth includes Jornadas (the retreat program, whose name is the Spanish word for journey, received a Catholic Education and Formation grant from the Foundation in 2018) and a youth group called Corazón Puro (pure heart in Spanish) that promotes Theology of the Body. The youth are trained to evangelize to other youth, and they are even developing their own initiatives. “They are doing it because of their own zeal and love of the faith,” shares Fr. Ryan.

One of these leaders, 25-year-old Ricardo Hernandez, has been inspired to create a podcast called Café con Santos (coffee with saints in Spanish) to share about the faith in inviting ways. He is grateful to have the opportunity to be involved in so many different events at the parish which enrich his faith. “I had an encounter with Christ in 2016 during the Jornadas retreat. I learned that my life had a purpose, and I was also prepared and challenged to bring other people to that truth in Christ. That truth has become more clear after experiencing the Corazón Puro retreat. With so much formation it becomes easier to do things that previously seemed difficult.” . 

Later this month, from July 17-26, the parish will host its annual novena leading up to its feast day. This is one of Detroit’s oldest devotions and has been going on for over 100 years. It typically draws in thousands of pilgrims who come to venerate the basilica’s relics. This year, the in-person masses will also be live-streamed. Each day of prayer will honor the cultures of a different region of the world represented in the Archdiocese. The feast day of Ste. Anne is July 26. Ste. Anne’s hopes you will join them in prayer and celebration during their novena and feast day!


Support the mission of the Malta Clinic through this Donor Designated Fund.

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Provide funding for the technological advancement platform enhancement and general operating expenses for Ave Maria Radio.

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St. Katharine Drexel is the patron saint of both philanthropy and racial justice. As the Catholic Foundation prioritizes racial justice in our granting work and throughout our organization, we are especially honored to have St. Katharine Drexel as our patron.

St. Katharine (1858-1955) was born in Philadelphia as the second daughter of a prominent banker and was no stranger to philanthropy. When Katharine’s father passed away, he donated a portion of his estate to various Catholic charities and left the rest to his three daughters. Shortly after their father’s death, Katharine and her sisters made a significant contribution to the St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Later in an audience with Pope Leo XIII, the pope suggested to Katharine that she become a missionary and support American Indian missions.

Katharine responded to that invitation and at age 33 she established a new religious congregation, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Her order opened numerous schools to serve American Indian and African American communities and also founded Xavier University in New Orleans, which is the only Catholic Historically Black College/University (HBCU).

Today, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament remain dedicated St. Katharine’s mission to “challenge all forms of racism, as well as other deeply-rooted injustices.”

St. Katharine’s challenges to racism were part of her faithful response to God’s calling on her life. On numerous occasions, she risked her safety to be faithful to this fight against racism and injustice.

In an article written by Franciscan Media, we learn about The Legacy of Saint Katharine Drexel and the prophetic ways she stood confidently to promote human dignity.

Throughout her life, when people within and outside of the church sought to intimidate, limit or prevent her work for racial justice, St. Katharine bravely persevered in her work to further God’s kingdom. By the time she died in 1955, there were more than 500 sisters in her order teaching in 63 schools throughout the U.S. St. Katharine also established 50 missions for Native American peoples in 16 states.

At Catholic Foundation of Michigan we are actively discerning concrete ways we can confront the sin of systemic racism in our community. 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. The Foundation’s grants to schools and organizations serving marginalized populations living in under-resourced areas continue St. Katharine’s legacy of prioritizing high-quality education for oppressed peoples.

St. Katharine Drexel, tireless intercessor for social justice and integration, pray for us as we work for racial justice in philanthropy!


St. Katherine Drexel

Icon of Saint Katharine courtesy of www.monasteryicons.com

“And he gave some…as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God..”
– Ephesians 4:11-13


“COVID-19 is acting as an accelerant for issues dioceses were already facing, like priest shortages and low parishioner engagement. Due to the financial implications of the pandemic, bishops are faced with the urgency of these questions now,” shares Deacon Steve Mitchell, Director of Parish Renewal for ACTS XXIX. 

ACTS XXIX is an apostolate founded in 2019 by Deacon Steve and Fr. John Riccardo. Its name conveys the truth that the same Holy Spirit who was at work in the life of the early Church is at work right now in our lives. In fact, ACTS XXIX believes and proclaims over and over again that each of us was born for this moment in history. Its ministry is eager to unleash the power of the gospel to equip ordained and lay leaders for the apostolic time in which we live. ACTS XXIX seeks to foster a greater capacity to hear God and execute God’s blueprint for parishes and dioceses, and reclaim the Church’s missionary identity. 

The Catholic Foundation recognizes that the work of ACTS XXIX is helping to meet the needs of parishes and dioceses now and for well into the future. The Foundation’s mission seeks to provide for the Church’s long-term needs and sustainability and we are proud to work with organizations, like ACTS XXIX, that share that goal.  

In 2019, a generous donor established a donor designated fund at the Catholic Foundation on behalf of ACTS XXIX. A designated fund is an advised fund whose beneficiary organization is specified by the donor(s) at the time of the gift. Income from the fund, and in some cases principal, is distributed in accordance with the instructions provided at the time of the gift. Beneficiary organizations can take financial support from the fund as it is needed. 

“Donors and ministries alike love donor designated funds because they are a donor-centered tool that benefit our beloved charities,” shares Angela Moloney, President and CEO of the Catholic Foundation. 

The primary focus of ACTS XXIX is priestly renewal, because the team sees the health of the presbyterate as fundamental for parish transformation. One of the ways that ACTS XXIX has prioritized this is by providing retreats and workshops around the country. In these, ACTS XXIX shares what they call the “three essential principles for parish transformation.” These principles are: reacquiring a biblical worldview, it’s not enough to be a staff, and God is the Architect. In the first year of their mission, they have ministered to and equipped over 600 priests.

“Priests are often tired, alone, and working at an unsustainable pace. Fr. John has been anointed to preach the gospel in a compelling way. When they hear it, these priests are renewed and recommit to their priesthood. It is a time of incredible healing for them and God moves in a powerful way,” shares Deacon Steve.  

In addition to ministering to and equipping priests, ACTS XXIX also provides an event aimed at the lay faithful in the pews. This event gives the laity an opportunity to hear the power of the gospel anew, personally respond to it, and be sent out as agents of re-creation in the world.  

The net effect of these events aims to make parishes places where the gospel is proclaimed in power, the lay faithful are equipped for mission, and non-members can find what our world is so desperate for: hope, goodness, beauty, unity, justice, truth  and more. “Churches are the only organizations that exist for the benefit of nonmembers. We want to help parishes become places of excellence and to welcome, or welcome back, new people,” shares Deacon Steve. 

“We are a very small team and God has flooded us with work. Our partnership with the Catholic Foundation means that we can be confident that the money given by our donors is stewarded well.”

In its second year of mission, ACTS XXIX is eager to work in a more concentrated way with some pastors, deacons and seminarians in the Archdiocese of Detroit to help equip them for the current era in which we live. 

The work that ACTS XXIX provides for dioceses is free, and the entire apostolate is donor-based. “What God has revealed to us through our experiences has been freely given, and freely we give it away,” Deacon Steve says. 

“We are a very small team and God has flooded us with work. Our partnership with the Catholic Foundation means that we can be confident that the money given by our donors is stewarded well. It is being invested in funds that uphold our Catholic tradition. It’s one less thing we have to focus on. In that way, the Foundation is an incredible partner.” All funds at the Catholic Foundation are invested in accordance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ guidelines for socially responsible investments.

For those who are interested in learning more about the mission and ministry of ACTS XXIX, Deacon Steve suggests visiting their website, actsxxix.org, and especially their new white paper titled Reimagining What a Catholic Parish Can Be: A Destination for the 21st Century (imaginethis.actsxxix.org). For those who wish to support ACTS XXIX’s efforts to unleash the gospel, the organization asks for both prayer and financial partners. We invite you to give today to the fund designated for its benefit.


Create a Donor Designated Fund for a Charity that You Love

In June, the Catholic Foundation presented two interactive virtual training webinars on grant writing, which were open to the public. Around 80 attendees from across Michigan gained valuable insight and tips for writing grant proposals of all types, with a special emphasis on the Catholic Foundation’s 2020 competitive grant process. In Zoom breakout rooms, participants had the opportunity to connect with one another and share questions and best practices.

The Catholic Foundation seeks to educate and build up our community through collaborative trainings and workshops. The granting workshops also provide an opportunity for the Foundation to listen to grant seekers and gain valuable insights on the critical work they do.

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