When Our Lady of Grace parish merged with St. Sabina parish in 2017, Fr. Jim Lopez, pastor of St. Sabina, and the parish transition team recognized an opportunity to be generous. Together they decided to make a tithe of 10% from the proceeds of the sale of the Our Lady of Grace parish building and prioritize supporting Catholic education.“In the one sense what our parish did is unique, but it also should be very simple. When you are the recipient of a gift, and you realize that your own community is going to have its needs met, you take care of your neighbors in need,” Fr. Jim shares. 

Founded in 1957, St. Sabina Parish serves as a spiritual home to about 550 families in Dearborn Heights. St. Sabina Parish’s school closed 11 years ago, but the parish has desired to continue supporting Catholic education at the elementary and secondary levels. With the funds from their parish tithe, they decided to support the school of St. Linus parish, which is their cluster partner, and Divine Child, which offers the only Catholic high school in their vicariate and the largest co-ed Catholic school in the state. 

When you are the recipient of a gift, and you realize that your own community is going to have its needs met, you take care of your neighbors in need. – Fr. Jim Lopez, Pastor of St. Sabina Parish

Rather than give the money to these schools as a lump sum, Fr. Jim decided to open endowment funds with the Catholic Foundation: the St. Linus Catholic School Assistance Fund and the Divine Child HS Tuition Assistance Endowment Fund

“Creating these funds reaffirms to the parishioners of St. Sabina that the money was tithed in an intentional way,

St. Sabina parishioners host a Lenten Fish Fry.

specifically marked for education, and that it will have an impact in the future,” shares Fr. Jim. 

Fr. Jim also appreciated that in working with the Catholic Foundation, he was able to clearly understand how the funds would be handled. “I felt we could entrust the Foundation to take care of these funds and put them to use in the communities we designated. It made it very easy to work with the Foundation,” he shared. 

In addition to creating two funds for local Catholic schools, St. Sabina parish also used their tithe to make contributions to two existing funds at the Foundation, for St. Frances Cabrini Clinic and for the Ste. Anne de Detroit Restoration and Maintenance Fund. 

St. Sabina parish has had a relationship with Cabrini Clinic through the parish’s Giving Tree during the Christmas season, in which parishioners can give winter clothing and other needed items to the clinic’s guests. The parish’s connection with Ste. Anne parish is tangible too; the statue of St. Anne from Our Lady of Grace parish was given to Ste. Anne’s and is prominently displayed outside of the church. 

“We wanted to make sure we wouldn’t just be giving money to a parish or organization and then forgetting about them. We have relationships with them which are ongoing,” Fr. Jim explains. 

Through the parish’s tithe, they chose to give to the causes that they felt represented what they value as a community – faith formation (through preserving the Archdiocese’s founding parish), outreach to marginalized people, and Catholic education. 

Members of Divine Child High School’s robotics team.

St. Sabina’s parish has been known for its hospitality, from its annual Lenten Fish Fry to opening up the parish’s facilities for the local Catholic schools. St. Linus school utilizes St. Sabina’s gym for sports games, and Divine Child uses one of St. Sabina’s classrooms for their robotics team. The hospitality is recognized in tangible ways too; the St. Linus Knights of Columbus supports activities at St. Sabina’s parish and the Divine Child robotics team has been sanitizing the St. Sabina’s worship area during the COVID pandemic. 

“Our school facility is no longer empty. It is being used for spiritual, academic and athletic needs. Though our parishioners are older and we do not have many children in the parish, we can still use our hospitality to make them feel welcome,” Fr. Jim shares. This kind of generosity has reminded parishioners of their ability to make an impact in the community at any age. 

How might your parish make a collective, collaborative impact? The Foundation is here to support you in creating a way forward.

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