“I wish to sow courage, hope, and enthusiasm abundantly in the hearts of all.” –St. John Paul II

St. John Paul II’s prayer for religious educators is our prayer too, and the Catholic Foundation is committed to ensuring that Catholic education is supported for generations to come. We are proud to steward nearly 40 funds that provide direct support for Catholic education.

And this year, when funding for Catholic schools is more critical than ever, we have responded to the need by launching two new scholarship funds. The St. Anne Scholars and the St. Martin de Porres scholarships will provide access to 50+ Catholic school students in the Archdiocese of Detroit for the 2020-2021 school year.

Our Catholic schools provide hope for the future. Over the past month, we have featured donors and leaders in faith formation that are helping to provide a future bright with hope.

May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace.

Help Us Grant More for Catholic Education

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.

GIVE TO THE Divine Child High School Tuition Assistance Endowment Fund

GIVE TO THE St. Linus Catholic School Assistance Fund

Create a fund to benefit a beloved school or parish.

When Michelle Kuhar’s nephew was two, a new tradition started in their family. They would take an annual camping trip which always included a stop at Camp Sancta Maria to visit Michelle’s brother, John David, at his summer job. 

Michelle Kuhar on a camping trip.

Setting up their tent, swimming in the lake, making s’mores and foil meals over the campfire, kayaking, and memory-making have been part of their lives for years now. For Michelle’s nephew, the highlight of the trip was always their side-trip to the open house at Camp Sancta Maria. There, her nephew could tramp in his uncle’s footsteps and pretend for a few hours that he was one of the campers. For years, he talked of nothing else but the day when he would be old enough to attend camp. 

Camp Sancta Maria is a Catholic camp for youth, ages 8-16, located in Gaylord, Mich., on nearly 100 wooded acres with a lake. Founded in 1933, countless generations of boys and girls have discovered God in nature and within themselves, and have made enduring friendships.

Campers enjoying Camp Sancta Maria.

Swimming, horseback riding, a ropes course, sports, arts and crafts, adventure games, and a trip to Mackinac Island are some of the activities available to campers, in the midst of an atmosphere of faith. Campers live their Catholic faith through daily Mass, Reconciliation, the Angelus, grace before and after meals, and night prayer in the Chapel.

“My nephew is now old enough to attend camp, but he doesn’t need my assistance to do so. His excitement over camp and his bi-racial heritage inspired me to create this scholarship which will provide financial assistance to Black/African American youth to attend a week-long boys camp each summer,” Michelle shares. “My hope is that other young men can enjoy the rock wall, archery courses, swimming and kayaking, campfire stories, and daily mass in the rustic chapel as they conquer new heights and learn to incorporate Christ into their daily lives.”

This scholarship will provide financial assistance to Black/African American youth to attend a week-long boys camp each summer.

Michelle created a donor-directed fund with the Catholic Foundation. 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 is distributed in accordance with the instructions provided at the time of the gift, in this case, as a scholarship for Black/African American youth with financial need to attend Camp Sancta Maria.

Bl. Frassati mountain climbing.

The scholarship is named in honor of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a mountain-climbing, fun-loving outdoorsman. “Bl. Frassati’s influence on my life and his tremendous example as a lay saint with a love of nature, the Eucharist, and practical jokes, makes him the perfect patron for young campers,” Michelle reflects. 

Michelle has provided the initial funds for the Frassati Camp Scholarship but hopes that others will join her in growing the fund to $10,000, at which point it would be endowed, to provide support for more would-be campers. She invites you to join her in giving a gift of any size to allow more youth to experience the transformational impact of a week at Camp Sancta Maria.



Create a Donor Designated Fund for a Cause You Are Passionate About

Ben Steary grew up without faith.

As a young adult, he became more aware of the “God-shaped hole in his heart.”

During a philosophy of religion class at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, he was introduced to Catholicism and St. Albert the Great University Parish and joined the Church in 2019.

The Catholic Foundation is honored to support St. Albert the Great Parish through the Evangelization Endowment held at the Foundation for the ministry’s benefit.

This summer Ben shared the Gospel with young people as a missionary with the Totus Tuus program through the Diocese of Marquette. The Totus Tuus program is staffed with young adults including seminarians and college students. The three Upper Peninsula (UP) Campus Ministries at Michigan Tech, Lake Superior State University, and Northern Michigan provide many of the missionaries as well. 

“Being able to serve in ministry as a full-time summer job has been extremely rewarding,” Ben says.

The Totus Tuus program started in the Diocese of Wichita in the 1980s and normally involves four-person teams of young adults traveling from parish to parish throughout the UP for the summer. These teams share the Gospel and promote the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Eucharistic worship, and Christian witness to youth.

The COVID-19 pandemic led Fr. Ben Hasse, Vocations Director for the diocese, to look to God for a new plan.

“The Totus Tuus program has been tremendously fruitful for us as a diocese since 2013. The prospect of having to cancel the program this summer was really discouraging. After a lot of prayer and discussion, we decided to take it online. It’s been an adventure, but completely worth the effort,” shared Fr. Ben.

Totus Tuus Digital 2020 was created. With saint skits, videos reenacting the mysteries of the rosary, lessons about the Ten Commandments, and silly songs, the missionaries have created a virtual learning opportunity for youth in the Upper Peninsula and across the country. To date, the program has subscribers in 12 states.

Totus Tuus, a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours,” was the motto of Saint Pope John Paul the Great. The phrase was taken from St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary,” and it signifies the missionaries’ desire to give themselves entirely to Jesus through Mary. Totus Tuus calls upon college students and seminarians from the Diocese of Marquette to carry the mission to children and families. 

Cassie Zimmer, a Michigan Tech and St. Al’s student, has served for three years as a Totus Tuus missionary. “I have learned how to become a better leader,” she says. “I know that I will be using these leadership skills every single day.”

The missionaries have developed original video content that is sent out each week to subscribers. These video lessons are geared toward Kindergarten through 12th grade, and are used by catechists and parents with their students.

All materials will continue to be available online for anyone to use throughout the year at mtucatholic.org/totustuus. Subscribe to the Totus Tuus, Diocese of Marquette YouTube Channel to watch all of the videos.

Support existing and expanded ministry to students at St. Albert the Great University Parish of Houghton, in perpetuity by supporting their evangelization endowment held at the Catholic Foundation. 



“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 in May 2019, 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!


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

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