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Written by Mary Wilkerson
Inspired by Joey Wilkerson

 

Growing up as a cradle Catholic of Polish and Irish descent, I am not sure I ever thought twice about the Sacred images surrounding me in Church. The vast majority of images reflected back at me saints and holy men and women who looked like me. 

As one of the great miracles of my life, after much prayer, the Lord led me to my husband Aaron. Aaron is an African American convert to our faith. We fell in love, got married, and had our first child within two years of meeting. In the Lord’s complete undeserved generosity, Aaron and I were blessed with 5 children in the first 6.5 years of marriage. These beautiful children, three sons and two daughters- perfect images of God’s goodness. Looking at my children is always amazing because they are all different shades. Not even one of our skin tones matches and through this, I get a front-row view of the beauty of diversity within the Body of Christ.

The Wilkerson Family Photo By Kindred Spirits Photography

As many people know, children can teach us in profound ways. When my children were toddlers and into the first years of school, I could see how important it was for them to have images of holiness that matched them. Representation of all shades took on a whole new meaning when I, as one of the two primary catechists of our children, saw how important it was for our kids to see images of holiness. I would notice my sons’ ears perk up when saint stories featured men and women of color. It was then I began to see how very important representation of people of color is within our Sacred spaces. 

One of my children, Joseph (Joey) often talks about feeling called to be a priest. I am not sure where God will end up leading him, but his insights into the faith stun me. When we found out about the Sacred Cultural Art Fund through the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, our Joey knew it was something he wanted to be involved with. Joey shared on social media about the importance of him seeing men/women who lived lives of holiness, and also looked like him. He shared how as a young boy of faith, seeing people of color within the church allows him to more easily picture himself as belonging to the family of God. Joseph, in his wisdom talked about vocations, and how as an African American young boy, he wants other African American men and women to know they belong in the fold of the Catholic Church. 

Joey asked our little community, our sphere of influence, to consider donating to this fund, and wouldn’t you know, our community responded. Our little community was able to raise thousands of dollars in just under a week to be donated to the Sacred Cultural Art Fund.

As a white mother of five beautiful African American children, so much of the racial dialogue of our time has been difficult to witness. Our family maneuvers our way through divisive sound bites on every side of the political spectrum. And yet, we know… Myself, my husband Aaron, and our children, Aaron, Joseph, John Paul, Malia and Julia- we know the true possibility of racial healing in this country. A healing that will only come from a deeper understanding of our loving God, the God who desires unity and peace, without sacrificing the beautiful diversity within His Body. A friend pointed out that whenever our Lady visits different countries through her apparitions, she always chooses to appear in the image of the culture she is appearing to. Our Lady, I like to think, values the importance of Sacred Cultural Images.

I will be forever grateful to the Catholic Foundation of Michigan for promoting and sponsoring the Sacred Cultural Art Fund. I deeply pray and hope men and women continue to donate to this fund, so that as my children grow, as children of the Archdiocese of Detroit, they will continue to see images that reflect back the beauty of diversity found in our church. Through the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, our children will be able to experience and see holy men and women of color, living their faith in vibrant ways. This is a blessing and a grace I will remember in years to come.

Support the Sacred Cultural Artwork Fund

Create a Fund for a Cause You Are Passionate About

 

 

Twelve depictions were revealed at St. Suzanne/Our Lady Gate of Heaven Parish on Nov. 21 as part of a traveling exhibit meant to promote Black Catholic representation in sacred art. (Photos by Dan Meloy | Detroit Catholic)
To learn more about the collaborative efforts of the Catholic Foundation, the College of Creative Studies and the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Cultural Ministries and Evangelical Charity, click here.

Sharing the joy of generosity through impactful investment is at the heart of the Catholic Foundation, and that joy is clear in the addition of the four new appointments to the Foundation’s Board of Directions for 2022. 

Learn more about each board member’s unique set of experiences and skills, and passion for building up the Church below.


Aaron Wilkerson is the Manager of Data at Learning Care Group, a child care provider based out of Novi. Aaron has over 15 years of experience in data & analytics and has specialized in building and driving data strategies that help companies leverage their data assets.

Aaron first learned about the Foundation five years ago, when it was in its early infancy. Intrigued by the Foundation’s mission, Aaron served as a committee member on the Marketing and Fund Development Committee. After doing committee work for the past few years, Aaron grew interested in serving the Foundation in a different capacity by joining the board.

“I’m inspired by the forward thinking and strategic vision of the Foundation. The Church has called younger Catholics like me to step up and be at the forefront of helping to shape what the future of the Church will look like. Philanthropy is a core pillar of our Catholic community that we need to continue to grow.”

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Maria Scott studied at the University of Michigan, Flint, where she earned her BBA in Marketing. For graduate education, she attended Lawrence Technological University, earned her MBA in Information Systems, and also worked at Electronic Data Systems as a systems engineer. Maria currently sits on the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s cabinet committee in Detroit.

Maria first learned about the Catholic Foundation through a friend who invited her to attend the Foundation’s annual grant celebration and was later invited to sit on the Foundation’s Grant and Impact Committee.

“What inspires me most about the Catholic Foundation is that it brings together gifts of generous people and turns those gifts into opportunities in the community, from supporting a child’s education to supporting Catholic organizations who in turn are able to reach further into their communities. My hope in the leadership role is to be able to help the Foundation grow in its efforts to be able to aid and give hope to the community it serves,” she shares.

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Nicole Franzen Kuklewski has spent the last 15 years transforming corporate real estate and workplace environments through strategy and design. Prior to joining Haworth, a Michigan headquartered commercial furniture manufacturer, she worked in Sydney, Honolulu and Detroit in commercial development, construction and architecture.

Prior to joining the Foundation board, Nicole reflected deeply on what giving back to the Catholic community could like. In 2021, she picked up the phone and connected with Angela at the Foundation to see how she could lend her talent to serve. She is incredibly eager to give back as she feels immensely blessed by the gifts she received in her Catholic education and faith formation in her hometown church St. Joseph’s (Maybee) while attending St. Patrick’s Grade School (Carleton) and St. Mary’s Catholic Central Highschool (Monroe) and now as a parishioner at St. Patrick’s in Brighton.

As a mother of two, she wants to ensure her children not only hear but see how we take care of our community through the talents and gifts that God has bestowed upon us to share.

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Scott Bennett
is a Senior Vice President at Peninsula Private Wealth of Raymond James in Birmingham. His key areas of focus include estate planning, retirement planning and business succession planning.

Scott first learned about The Catholic Foundation when it was introduced to his parish, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, and instantly felt a connection to the mission of the foundation and a nudge from the Holy Spirit to get involved.

 “Philanthropy is in the DNA of the planning we do with clients and what our team does personally. The foundation is an exciting way for Catholics to create a legacy to support important Catholic activities and organizations both now and for the future,”  he shared.

 


 

The spirit of generosity that called these individuals to deeper service to their Catholic communities was also driven by confidence in the impact and fruitfulness of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan. President and CEO Angela Moloney is excited about the growth of the Foundation’s participation, asset size, and community awareness.

“As the Catholic Foundation continues to grow, I am pleased to welcome the highly talented leadership of our new board members. I am grateful for the dynamic and unique perspectives that each of them will bring to our community,” she says.

You, too, can approach your own call to generosity with confidence when you create a fund for the charitable organization you long to support!

Join Our Founders Circle

Learn more about our Board of Directors

Your steadfast support during another unpredictable year fills us with gratitude. Our Catholic community of compassionate donors and dedicated partners continues to grow, and we are honored to serve as your trusted steward.

 

In 2021, the Catholic Foundation created meaningful lasting Catholic legacies. Together with our 200+ fund holders, the Foundation granted over $3.4 million to nearly 400 organizations, helping our parishes, schools and ministries thrive today and forever. We were especially honored to support individuals, families, and organizations in establishing 14 memorial and tribute funds to honor faithful individuals whose legacy will live on for eternity.

 

Our Catholic values and faith set us apart. We exist to develop possibilities for faithful people to address the needs and enhance the lives of people throughout our area. The Foundation provides the opportunity to make a forever-impact, to leave a Catholic legacy.

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Join the Founders’ Circle Today

In 2016, a group of inspired lay-leaders, endorsed by the Archbishop of Detroit, invited passionate Catholics to participate in the launch of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, forever changing the landscape of Catholic philanthropy in our area.

We invite you to consider joining us in this lifetime opportunity to make a difference in our community of faith.

Membership is a lifetime opportunity to make a difference in our community of faith. Actively engaged Catholics who want to have a meaningful impact on our community are invited to join!

Key Benefits

  • Members are publicly recognized by the Foundation, in perpetuity.
  • Invitations to participate in spiritual and social events with Foundation board members and leadership team.
  • Exclusive and unique retreats and pilgrimages.
  • Annual mass and breakfast with other Catholic leaders and the Archbishop of Detroit.

Becoming a Founding Benefactor

Individuals who contribute $5,000 per year for five years to help support the operations of the Catholic Foundation during its formative years will be invited to join the Founders’ Circle.

Join our critical mission today. Your partnership enables the Catholic Foundation to be in a position to continue to preserve and enhance our Catholic values for present and future generations. Contact Angela Moloney, President and CEO of the Catholic Foundation at Info@CatholicFoundationMichigan.org or call (248) 204–0332.

Support Today

Giving generously brings joy, and it changes lives. By sharing with those in need, we follow Christ’s desire for us and participate in bringing hope and new life in the world.

We invite all of our donors to consider a special gift of any size to the Foundation’s Legacy Endowment Fund as the Catholic Foundation expands its mission. Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to working with you to make a difference in our community of faith.

Founders Circle Membership Form

Contact Us  

 

Meet a few of our Founders’ Circle members:

Mike Vlasic
  • Investment Executive, The Discipline of Success
  • Founders’ Circle & Board Member Catholic Foundation
  • Advancement Council Chair, Archdiocese of Detroit
  • Parishioner, St. Owen, Bloomfield Hills
  • MBA, University of Michigan
  • BS, Engineering, Brown University

In my finance roles it became clear that we are blessed with countless generous Catholic benefactors, but the Archdiocese wasn’t structured to accept large gifts in a way that was easy for the giver. With the Foundation, donors have confidence that they can direct their funds and grants, through an independent foundation, long after they’ve died through a seamless administrative process. The Foundation makes it simple to be charitable.

Chris Allen, MHSA, FACHE

Chris Allen, MHSA, FACHE is a dynamic member of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan’s Board of Directors and a member of the Founders’ Circle. Recently retired, for 42 years Allen served in healthcare administration. For the past 14 years he was President and CEO of Authority Health, the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, which enhances population health through linking existing health resources and filling gaps with programs and services. During his tenure at Authority Health, he drastically increased its programming for underserved residents. At Authority Health physicians were trained in the following ares: pediatrics, internal medicine, family medicine, and psychiatry. Allen is also Chairman of the Board of the Bon Secours Health System.

There is so much more we as a Catholic Church can do. The Foundation’s grants help to make that happen.”

Learn more about our Members:

Creative, Collaborative Evangelization: Inspired Founders’ Circle Member Shares Vision

Chris Allen, MHSA, FACHE is a dynamic member of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan’s Board of Directors and a member of the Founders’ Circle ...

God Will Exceed Our Expectations

Over the course of my legal career, I have helped clients with their family and business needs, and one of the most effective tools is estate planning. Many of my Catholic clients have been looking for the Catholic version of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, but there wasn’t anything ...

In 2005, pro-life student groups from across the state of Michigan gathered together on Michigan State University’s campus to establish a coalition to protect life on college campuses in Michigan. This newly established alliance of pro-life students named their group Protect Life Michigan.

Since then, the organization has grown with a staff of trained professionals to mentor students into exceptional pro-life leaders. Currently the organization serves thirty high school groups, twenty-two college groups, and three regional networks from cities across Michigan.

Their mission to build a new generation of leaders is threefold: to recruit passionate young people and train them for pro-life leadership, to educate youth on life issues and pregnancy resources, and to connect students to strengthen their impact.

Protect Life Michigan is building an army of pro-life defenders in places where the pro-life message is typically silenced. In colleges and high schools around the state, students are being equipped to defend the pro-life position and change the minds of their peers. Their presence on campus shows pro-life students that they are not alone and helps them turn their convictions into effective action to save lives.

Many student activists are transformed by the work and connections made through the training and advocacy provided by Protect Life Michigan. “As long as I have known Protect Life Michigan, I have never felt alone in this movement. Protect Life Michigan has taught me to know, love, and serve the person in front of me,” shared Mary Payne, a student. 

In the 2020-2021 year, Protect Life Michigan reached over 316,543 people with the pro-life message, provided training to 4,135 students, and led 365 hours of outreach.

College students, however, are not the only ones getting involved in Protect Life Michigan’s work. To help sustain Protect Life’s ministry and amplify its growth, an anonymous donor generously created the Protect Life Michigan Endowment Fund.

“The gift of this endowment was made possible through the estates of my father and grandmother. In the midst of a long depressing season, including a miscarriage, other deaths in the family, health concerns, a drastic change in family circumstances, and professional setbacks, I recognized that a portion of the wealth in these estates should be used to help restore a vibrant culture of life.”

The donor wanted to ensure that the pro-life message and the mission of Protect Life Michigan continues for generations to come. “My life began through an unplanned pregnancy in a college town, and the reason I’m alive today is because of pro-life advocates,” the donor shared.

An endowment fund is an investment for the future. The charitable contribution is invested, grows, and each year, Protect Life Michigan can receive a portion of the investment. The remainder is then reinvested to provide ongoing resources for the future.

“Protect Life Michigan is proud to partner with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan to manage our endowment fund and allow us to ensure the pro-life message is brought to campus for years to come,” shared Christen Pollo, Executive Director.

“Having an endowment means that Protect Life Michigan has a steady stream of support for years so it can continue to build a pro-life community in the Mitten. Donors give to the fund through the Catholic Foundation and they, in turn, ensure it is only invested in life-affirming means,”  shared Christen Pollo, Executive Director 


Please join the Catholic Foundation in supporting this vital mission by donating to this life-giving fund. By giving to the Protect Life Michigan Endowment Fund, you’re ensuring that voices for the unborn are raised up for generations.

Support the Protect Life Michigan Endowment Fund

Create an Endowment Fund for a Cause You Are Passionate About

Brian V. Hill Education Foundation for Marriage and Family Granting Fund

“Every Christmas, our family would watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’,” shares Angela Hill. After losing her husband, Brian, over six years ago, she still gets tears in her eyes talking about this tradition. “He loved the movie and would weep while watching it. Brian felt like George Bailey at different points in his life, and would remember the gift of life we received in 2005 when our oldest daughter received a heart transplant just before Christmas.” 

The year 2014 was the last Christmas that Brian Hill watched this heart-warming movie with his wife and three children, Andri, Ally and Vincent. On March 28, 2015, Brian was diagnosed with cancer in every major organ in his body. Just six weeks later, on May 14, 2015, God called him home.  

“Although everything was progressing so fast, every moment seemed to happen in slow motion as we tried to process what was happening to our family. We made it with our faith, our extended family, and our parish community,” shares Angela. 

As a way to honor Brian, Angela opened the Brian V. Hill Education Fund for Marriage and Family with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan. By opening this granting fund with the Catholic Foundation, Angela hopes to give monetary assistance to Catholic schools, men’s and women’s groups, marriage and marriage prep ministries, and youth ministries who will benefit from the gift of the teachings of John Paul II Theology of the Body. The grants can help fund bible study materials, guest speakers, retreats or any other forums to teach Theology of the Body.

Angela knows Brian would want this fund set up. “Starting this fund in Brian’s name is about celebrating the work that God does and wants to do in broken people. Theology of the Body is about learning how to be human and understanding God’s plan for sexuality and marriage, ” shares Angela.  

“Our children’s children and all children should learn about Theology of the Body. We need to also provide learning opportunities for adults who have never heard about Theology of the Body. To live our greatest life we must know how to be human,” says Angela.

“Despite all the health challenges and trials we faced in our marriage, family life was by far Brian’s greatest gift. He always wanted more for his family, not materially, but foundationally. Don’t we all want that?”

Creating a granting fund with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan gives funders the opportunity to target their contribution to the area most important to them. These funds are broad in scope, yet targeted to meet the persistent needs of the community–in the case of this fund, around education about Theology of the Body. 

After a fund is established, the Foundation’s granting team identifies, evaluates, and awards grants to the most qualified and deserving organizations in the funder’s area of interest. This allows a funder to ensure that the professional management of their fund is aligned with Catholic values, and allows the funder to have peace of mind while the Foundation takes care of fund promotion and visibility, and all administrative aspects of the granting process. 

In the case of the Brian V. Hill Education Fund for marriage and family, the granting fund is also a unique opportunity to remember and honor Brian Hill’s life while making an impact in the community.

Angela’s prayer is that this granting fund will not only honor Brian as one of the original founders of the “Regular Joes Mens’ Prayer Breakfast” at Our Lady of Good Counsel parish in Plymouth, but will also keep his memory alive as he loved to learn and serve. A gift to The Brian V. Hill Education Fund for Marriage and Family will impact young couples preparing for marriage and provide opportunities to bring hope and healing to families that want to understand God’s greatest gift.

“Starting this fund in Brian’s name is about celebrating the work that God does and wants to do in broken people. Theology of the Body is about learning how to be human and understanding God’s plan for sexuality and marriage,” shares Angela Hill.

Support the Brian V. Hill Education Foundation for Marriage and Family

Create a Fund In Honor and Memory of Your Loved One


The Catholic Foundation distributed over $138,500 on December 7th during the annual community grants celebration.

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In 2019, as a direct response to the Archbishop of Detroit’s message in Unleash the Gospel, the Catholic Foundation was called upon to create the Spirit of Innovation granting fund. The Spirit of Innovation Grant called for Catholic parishes, schools, and organizations in the archdiocese to develop, launch and grow new initiatives, ministries and approaches that share the Good News with all, forming joyful missionary disciples. 

The 2021 Spirit of Innovation Grant was awarded to St. Aloysius/Our Lady of the Rosary community in Detroit for their Outreach and Mission Hub project. The focus of the project is to create a space for young adults to grow and flourish through the partnership of Detroit Catholic Campus Ministry and Young Adult events through St. Aloysius Parish.

The grant project hopes to develop an underutilized courtyard space between the church and rectory into a gathering space with seating, bonfire pit, yard games, overhead lighting, and dining tables to create a Mission Hub Outdoor Gathering Space. The goal is for the space to be an attractive, eye-catching place of radical hospitality, a place for friendships to be formed and fostered, and a place of invitation to a relationship with Jesus. Part of this re-envisioned mission is to connect “un-churched” or lapsed Catholic millennials in the area to a life of faith, worship, and community.

In addition, the project hopes to support the senior citizen population served through St. Aloysius Neighborhood Services by offering them a chance to cultivate their passion for gardening and foster intergenerational collaboration through hosting a dinner for seniors, served by young adults, and gardening opportunities for seniors and young adults to work together.

“We are so grateful to the Catholic Foundation of Michigan for awarding us the Spirit of Innovation Grant for our Outdoor Mission Hub at Our Lady of the Rosary church. We will be creating an outdoor space in the courtyard for community gatherings, Bible studies, and a place for our seniors to garden,” shared Fr. Mario Amore, pastor of both St. Aloysius Parish, Detroit and Our Lady of the Rosary Parish.

Learn more about this inspired project by watching the video below.