Author: Janet Biondo
Republished with permission from Detroit Catholic. 

Donors step up to replace former 30-year-old bus on its last legs, putting field trips in jeopardy for inner-city Catholic school

DETROIT — A bus is not just a bus for the students at Holy Redeemer School in Detroit; it’s a passageway to a world outside the classroom.

The school received a new $70,000 bus Nov. 9 as a gift from donors through the Catholic Foundation of Michigan.

“Our school is very family-oriented,” principal Sr. Kateri Burbee, SOLT, told Detroit Catholic. “The idea (to have a bus) is like a family gathering, a family outing.”

Holy Redeemer students watch the ribbon-cutting while social distancing outside the school on Nov. 9. Sr. Burbee said the new school bus represents a chance for many students to venture outside their school and neighborhood, often for the first time.

Last spring, when the school’s 30-year-old bus was on its last leg, the students went to a state park. At that time, Sr. Burbee said, she questioned how many more trips that bus could take; without it, future outings that are important for the students’ growth would be in jeopardy. For many students, especially from low-income families, field trips are a way to experience the world outside their school and neighborhood.

Sr. Burbee added the state park trip was an “opportunity for them to encounter God the Father and how much He blesses each and every one of us.”

The school’s population is 98 percent bilingual Hispanic, Sr. Burbee said.

Seventh-grader Miranda Lara said she was excited to ride the new bus.

“We are going to be the first class to use the bus tomorrow to see the Parade Company,” she said, explaining that the seventh-grade students would take the bus along with their second-grade buddies.

Second-grader MariaBelen Bermudez-Lara, 7, said she was most excited for the bus “because it is new and I get to ride in it.”

Clark Durant, a Catholic philanthropist and one of the donors behind the project, was at the ribbon-cutting event to share in the joy with the students.

Fr. Dennis Walsh, SOLT, pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish, blesses the new school bus as Holy Redeemer students look on.

“People think of it as a bus, but it’s really part of this community,” Durant said. “This is part of the flourishing of human development.”

Durant spearheaded the gift along with Joe Ricci, Mike Shields and the late William Pulte, whose family foundation recently acquired the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth from the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Overjoyed at the students’ reaction to the new bus, Durant promised them a future trip to the University of Notre Dame, his alma mater.

“What is rich about the Catholic understanding is that every piece of the community, from teachers to books to buses, each come from the love at the center of the Eucharist,” said Durant, who converted to the Catholic faith 16 years ago.

During his address to the students at the ribbon-cutting, Durant reminded them of their role in the Church’s future. Durant challenged students to find him in the future and tell him what they did with their lives, and how Holy Redeemer prepared them.

“Every one of you is being prepared to be a vessel of love, even for strangers,” he explained, encouraging students to pass along their blessings by taking steps to do good for others and not just themselves. “Your lives will change our community from darkness to light.”

Angela Moloney, president and CEO of Catholic Foundation of Michigan, said the organization was honored to facilitate the donors’ generous gift for the benefit of Holy Redeemer students.

“The Catholic Foundation’s mission is to make it easy for individuals, families and groups to be generous on projects such as this,” Moloney said. “It is a joy to steward this gift on behalf of so many generous donors.”


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Author: Jim Dudley
Republished with permission from Detroit Catholic. 

Catholic Foundation of Michigan’s founding CEO says nonprofit has supported $7 million in giving since 2017, and is just getting started

DETROIT — Seated in a booth at a busy Panera Bread one late-September morning, laptop open and coffee in hand, Angela Moloney is fresh from an executive committee meeting with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, where she serves as founding president and CEO.

“Lots of good news this morning,” she says with a smile. “Just this quarter alone, we’ve had 16 new charitable funds established.”

A longtime leader in the Catholic nonprofit community, Moloney is passionate for philanthropy work and fully invested in increasing the impact of Catholic ministries, parishes and schools by inspiring charitable giving and managing assets to grow the Church for generations to come. For 10 years, Moloney served as domestic director of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, a Catholic organization connecting young volunteers with opportunities to serve in marginalized communities.

Angela Moloney, pictured front left (in blue), is seen with others at the newly established Center for the Works of Mercy on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. The center, sponsored by Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, helps low-income clients with a variety of material and spiritual needs.

“While I wasn’t trained in the Jesuit tradition through school, I definitely got the entry to Jesuit spirituality through running JVC Midwest in Detroit,” she said. “We eventually merged and became one national organization.”

Her work included cultivating major gifts, leading regional development and fundraising efforts, and acquiring grants to support the program.

“I grew up in Livonia the youngest of 12 kids. My family is Catholic, and my uncle is Msgr. Jim Moloney, the pastor of St. Anselm Parish in Dearborn Heights,” Moloney said. “My dad was with the Jesuits for 10 years but in the end, it wasn’t his calling. We just had that rootedness in our family life. Community has always been one of our core values.”

Despite her Catholic upbringing, Moloney didn’t have the opportunity to attend a Catholic school until college, when she enrolled at Madonna University in Livonia.

“I fell in love with Madonna, and it was because of the sisters there and their commitment to faith, service and justice,” Moloney said. From there, she went on to earn a master’s degree in theology from Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C.

“I was on fire to do good work. My first job out of grad school was as a high school campus minister at a Holy Cross school just outside of D.C. called Bishop McNamara,” Moloney said. “I was responsible for all the community service, planned the retreats and led Masses. During that time, I got married to my husband, Bill, and we fell in love with the places where we took our students to do service work.”

Teens from Nazareth Farm, a Catholic community in rural West Virginia that offers service retreats, are seen in this file photo. Moloney’s experience serving at the farm with her husband, Bill, for three years helped form a lifelong love of charitable service

Foremost among them was Nazareth Farm, a Catholic community in rural West Virginia, whose mission is to transform lives through a service-retreat experience. Nazareth Farm is devoted to living out the Gospel message through community, simplicity, prayer and service.

“Bill and I left what we loved in D.C. and decided to do three years of service work with Nazareth Farm,” Moloney said. “We worked in Appalachia. It was awesome and a pretty unique experience doing it as a married couple. We loved it, and after three years came home to Michigan.”

Moloney said her husband, who is from the Baltimore area, is “still surprised that we’re Michiganders,” along with their two boys, 11 and 13.

The experience of celebrating the richness and people of Appalachia stayed with the couple.

“After Nazareth Farm, we had the ability to identify our values and talk about our core values as a family,” Moloney said. “It also helped deepen my work at JVC. Our kids know our values and our community. It’s about simple living, prayer and our faith, and finally, service.”

Moloney said the family remains committed to service work; Bill leads community engagement efforts for students at the University of Michigan’s Michigan Community Scholars program, and “we’re a pretty service-focused family,” she said.

“We make sure we’re always attentive to doing service. Our work has always come from those values,” Moloney said. “My boys have been known to do service with us, but it’s been a tough year for that.”

Moloney has been bringing her “fire to do good” to the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, which was established in 2016, from its earliest days. The foundation helps connect donors to charitable causes in the Catholic community through planned giving, scholarships and donor-advised funds, among other efforts.

“I love the opportunity to be with individuals and families in particular as they discern what their heart is passionate about,” Moloney said. “We prayerfully discern where and how (funds are dispersed), and where and how we can give service to the community.”

Moloney, second right, is pictured with a group of Livonia-based Felician Sisters. Moloney’s first experience with a Catholic school was her enrollment at the Felician-run Madonna University, which she says instilled in her a love for helping others.

Moloney is passionate about her work, and she’s grateful for that. But her focus never wavers; and she’s always on to the next thing, spotlighting the work of others.

Moloney credits Pat Fehring, president of Level One Bank, with inspiring the creation of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan after arriving in the state and noticing an opportunity.

“He moved here from Ohio in the early 2000s and said, ‘Well, where’s the Catholic Foundation?'” Moloney said. “In Columbus, they have a model where everyone gives through their Catholic Foundation as a stand-alone 501(c)3 lay-led organization.”

The foundation is separate from the Archdiocese of Detroit, but supports the work of the archdiocese by inviting donors to create and give to funds that bolster ministries, parishes and schools throughout southeast Michigan.

“When Pat moved here, he approached other business leaders and said, ‘We need something that’s lay-led and easy to use,'” Moloney said. “He got the blessing of Archbishop Allen Vigneron, and now we have a board of about 30 to 40 business leaders. They are a dynamic group who are so faithful, so committed, so passionate and so generous.”

Moloney would love to continue talking about the mission of the Catholic Foundation, but there’s another meeting to attend, so she begins gathering her computer and things to move to another area of Panera where it’s quieter.

“The Catholic Foundation of Michigan has given about $7 million back to the community since 2017, and that’s not too bad,” Moloney says with a smile. “But there’s still so much more work to be done.”

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