Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD! – Psalm 104

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The Catholic Foundation Board, Founders’ Circle members, and friends found inspiration, hope, and healing in the “Art for God’s Sake” ministry lead by Fr. J.J. Mech and his team at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

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In 2020 our Catholic values called us to be generously empathetic, confidently transparent, and faithfully inspired.

Together as one community of faith, the Catholic Foundation of Michigan increased giving by 102%, helping our neighbors in need and strengthening a multitude of parishes, schools, and nonprofits with mission-critical funds – distributing over $2.4M.

Early in the year, in the midst of multiple crises and a time of fear and uncertainty, the Foundation team rapidly responded with clarity, faith, and love. Our trusted relationships, our operational infrastructure, and our ability to be agile allowed us to respond strategically and boldly deploy grants to ministries in urgent need.

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On Sunday, March 15, 2020 at the conclusion of his first live-streamed Mass following the suspension of public Masses, Archbishop Vigneron entrusted the Archdiocese to the care and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He also promised to build a grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes (pictured above) in gratitude and thanksgiving for her healing power. In early 2021, the Archdiocese of Detroit reached out to the Catholic Foundation to create the Cathedral Grotto Fund.

“The grotto will stand as a visible tribute to God’s mercy and love showered on us during this pandemic through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Throughout this tumultuous time, not only has Our Lady obtained for us the grace of her Son’s protection, but we have also been blessed to be able to share his Good News in both ordinary and extraordinary ways,” Archbishop Vigneron said.

“The grotto will stand as a visible tribute to God’s mercy and love showered on us during this pandemic through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” -Archbishop Allen Vigneron

The grotto, to be located on the grounds of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, will unite, enlighten, and inspire. “Priests, religious, and laity have been moved to respond generously to our mission of inspiring hope in God’s abundant and overwhelming grace during these troubled times,” said the Archbishop.

A liturgical space design team is working to create a grotto that will serve as a welcoming devotional and gathering space for all, and will serve as a “shallow entry point” for the neighborhood, residents, and visitors.

The grotto dedicated to our Lady of Lourdes is a bold project and the entire community is invited to participate. Gifts will be gratefully received and used for the creation and care of the grotto. As a corporal act of mercy, ten percent of gifts given to the Cathedral Grotto Fund will be directed to a ministry of Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan that serves the sick and suffering.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the work to “unleash the Gospel” has not been abandoned. Bearing witness to our unshakable trust in God and His providence during these challenging times can be a particularly effective means of evangelizing our friends and neighbors.

“The Archdiocese of Detroit is honored to work with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan to facilitate, encourage, and invite others to support the Cathedral Grotto in this special way,” said Jim Thomas, Director of Development Mission Support for the Archdiocese of Detroit. For more information about the Grotto, please contact Jim Thomas.

Give to Cathedral Grotto Fund

Written By M.B. Dillon.

Don Bridenstine has been gone for two years, and his widow Eileen still misses her husband of 56 years every day. But for Eileen, life is a little sweeter knowing that Don’s legacy lives on through an endowment he founded with his friend Ed Parks to benefit Gesu Catholic School, the men’s alma mater.

“Don loved Catholic education. His father instilled that in him,” said Eileen, mother of five children, all of whom attended Gesu in the 1970s. “He had a very special feeling for Gesu. That‘s one of the reasons he got involved with the Foundation, and it’s why I am still honoring him by sending money every year for the school and the endowment.”

The Gesu Class of 1954

Ed Parks graduated with Bridenstine in 1953 from Gesu. “Don and I first met as kindergartners at Gesu. We continued on at U of D High, where our friendship intensified,” said Ed. “Don went to Notre Dame and I went to John Carroll, but we ended up together at the University of Michigan’s graduate school of business. He went on to his career in the automotive industry, and I went to mine. Don began volunteering at Gesu, and we reconnected,” said Ed, a retired partner with Plante Moran.

Don and Ed got talking about the importance of Gesu and decided to partner with the Catholic Foundation in 2018. “We realized we could solicit some of the Gesu alumni we know who might be interested in giving to a permanent fund, the income of which could be used by the school,” said Ed.

“One benefit of having an endowment with the Catholic Foundation is that people can make contributions to it while they are alive,” added Ed, who serves as advisor to the fund, as did Don before his death. “They can also designate it in their wills if they wish.” The endowment funds are administered by the Foundation, which makes annual distributions to the school.

The late Don Bridenstine volunteered at his alma mater in 2018, the year he helped establish the Gesu Catholic School Alumni Endowment Fund. Bridenstine commented then, “Without quality education, we will never attain our potential as individuals and members of society.”

Started with $10,000 a few years ago, the Gesu Catholic School Alumni Endowment Fund has already grown to $70,000. The beauty of an endowment like the Gesu Fund is that anyone in the community can make a contribution to honor or memorialize someone they love. 

Pat McKeever, a close friend of Don’s with no direct ties to Gesu, felt called to support his old friend in this special way. “Don was always close with Gesu,” said Pat. “I wanted him to get recognition for doing something many others who have gone to Gesu could have done but have not. It’s been a real joy to be able to do this with Don and Ed.” McKeever loves how easy it is to give and invites others to consider the benefit of utilizing a required minimum distribution in such a meaningful way.

Gesu students with Archbishop Vigneron after the Catholic Schools Week mass in 2020.

The Catholic Foundation brings good news “for anybody interested in helping families living in the city to have a choice of a faith-based grammar school,” said Ed. “There are so few remaining in the city and so it’s essential to support these schools. If you are an alumnus or alumna of a faith-based school and can support them financially, it’s almost a responsibility.”

In addition to educating over 200 students each year, “Gesu is an anchor,” Ed added. “Gesu helps the community, opening its building and playground to its neighbors. Giving to the endowment held by the Foundation is a way to enable young children to have a choice, and a way to help the city.”

It’s gratifying for Eileen to see the endowment prospering. “Don took great pride in being one of the first to support it,” she said. “He was very happy to see his friends contributing to Gesu. These guys really valued the friendships they formed in the early years of their education. We are knee-deep in our Catholic faith, and it goes back many years.”

“The reward every parent hopes for is seeing their child make a difference in the world. A lot of that has to do with the education they receive.”  -Eileen Bridenstine

Open your own Endowment

Give to Gesu Catholic School Alumni Endowment Fund

The excerpt below is part of a blog post titled, “Finding Light in Loss” written by Mike Tenbusch and originally published by International Samaritan, a Catholic Foundation of Michigan ministry partner.

“Our mission is based on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching,” says Tenbush. “It’s important to us to know that our funds are being stewarded consistent with the principles that guide our work across the world. The Catholic Foundation of Michigan does that for us and with us.”

We are honored at the Catholic Foundation to support the efforts of International Samaritan and the communities impacted by their work across the world. We give thanks for this partnership and the opportunity to support this community in their time of need.


In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge visited the construction site of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. While there, an eight-year-old boy named John Vincent approached him and told him that he wanted to be president one day. 

“No. You don’t want this job,” the president known as “Silent Cal” told him.

Young John took the president at his word. He shifted his dreams to becoming a rancher, going to the hardware store in town every Saturday to try on boots “for a ranch job I have coming up” he would tell the salesmen, who ultimately banned him from their store after a slew of Saturdays spent helping John trying on boots he didn’t have enough money to buy.

Dr. John Vincent, 1919-2004

Undeterred, John decided to become a doctor instead. The road was not easy. He had lost his dad at the age of four, but the love and strength of his Irish mother inspired a resilience in him.  He studied hard in school, got married, started a family, and made his way through medical school while raising a family of eight children that grew to twelve after he became a doctor. 

Dr. John Vincent died in 2004, and his children and grandchildren continue to shine with that resilience. When his oldest daughter, Mary, read about the death of Asdrubal Barroso, one of our scholarship students, from appendicitis in January, she immediately thought of her dad and the memory of seeing him, grim-faced, carrying his own 24-year-old  son, John, in his arms, who was suffering from appendicitis. 

Asdrubal Barroso, 2004-2021

Unlike Asdrubal, Dr. Vincent’s son was able to get to a hospital and receive medical attention in time.

Asdrubal had also wanted to become a doctor. In his honor and in her dad’s memory, Mary recently established the Asdrubal Barroso Medical Scholarship to fund a medical or nursing school education of young people in Nicaragua. This endowed fund was created in partnership with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan to help fund the education of more medical professionals in Nicaragua in perpetuity.

“This is all about the life that comes from loss,” Mary told me. “My dad’s grandpa was an orphan in Ireland. His mom was a widow. He taught me that you can’t stop looking for life in the face of loss. I’m hopeful that this scholarship will be a light that changes lives for others.”

The legacy of Dr. Vincent and Asdrubal resounded so powerfully with me that I wanted to share it with you. Please pray that Asdrubal’s parents will find the comfort of our Lord in their loss.

How does your faith call you to give this Easter Season? 

If you feel called to support a student in a way that is meaningful to you, learn more.




St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Education Celebration

On March 3, 2021, the feast day of its patroness, St. Katherine Drexel, the Catholic Foundation held its inaugural Catholic Education celebration.  The event honored Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of Detroit, the principals and teachers that joyfully lead and serve within them, and the multitude of families who have sacrificed and benefited from Catholic education.

Over a hundred community members came together to celebrate and pray with those leading the way in Catholic education. The event began with an opening prayer led by Alexa and Bob Calleja, a father-daughter duo from St. Edith Catholic School. Alexa was one of 63 exceptional scholarship recipients from the 2020 cycle. Anthony Schena, the Catholic Foundation of Michigan’s Grant & Impact Committee Chair and Board Member, led the presentation of awards to the 2021 Amazing Catholic Educator Awards. Four principals and six teachers were surprised during the live virtual event with plaques and $1,000 awards as their fellow colleagues and students cheered. The event ended with an inspiring keynote from Kathleen McCann, Catholic Foundation of Michigan Board Member and Archdiocese of Detroit Catholic Schools Council Chair.

To learn more about the touching event and watch a live recording, see below.


Live Recording
“I am sure Jesus was smiling as big as we were during the celebration!” – Anthony S.
“I was very touched by the entire event, there were a few times that I had to block my camera because of a few tears.” – Helen V.
“Terrific job recognizing our Catholic school – we need to continue to be bold in proclaiming our faith and the role of our Catholic schools in SE Michigan.” – Mike B.
“It was wonderful to see so many educators celebrating for making a difference!”– Emily F.


The excerpt below is from “Catholic Foundation honors 10 ‘amazing Catholic educators’ with inaugural awards” written by Gabriella Patti and originally published by Detroit Catholic, a publication of the Archdiocese of Detroit. (March 3, 2021) 


On the feast day of its patroness, St. Katherine Drexel, the Catholic Foundation of Michigan honored 10 Archdiocese of Detroit principals and teachers with its inaugural Amazing Catholic Educator Award.

The award “recognizes teachers, specialists and administrators across the Archdiocese of Detroit (AOD) who are creating a school culture that is proudly Catholic, academically excellent, accessible to all, and sustainable for the future,” according to the Catholic Foundation’s website.

After being nominated via written recommendations from colleagues, students and parents, each submission was reviewed by the Catholic Foundation’s Grant and Impact Committee. The winners all will receive $1,000.

According to Catholic Foundation president and CEO Angela Moloney, St. Katherine Drexel’s work to expand Catholic education opportunities, especially among minority communities, makes her a perfect patroness for the organization, especially as it honors Catholic educators.

“St. Katherine Drexel is the patron saint of the Catholic Foundation, and she is phenomenal in so many ways,” Moloney told Detroit Catholic. “Her mission and ministry was really to support educational endeavors for Black and indigenous communities. She really focused on Catholic education and lifting people up through education.”

The first annual St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Schools Celebration was held virtually via Zoom, but the Catholic Foundation and those who nominated the educators still managed to surprise the winners. Teachers and principals were presented with their awards by their colleagues, often with their students in the background cheering them on.

During the ceremony, Anthony Schena, a member of the Catholic Foundations board of directors, said the winners spanned from the city to the suburbs, from kindergarten to high school, and had a combined 109 years of service to Catholic education.

“You are building the foundation for the next generation of faithful Catholics, and we are so very blessed to have you in our schools,” Schena said.

Although the event was the Catholic Foundation’s first celebration of this kind, Moloney said the foundation hopes to continue the tradition.

“We plan to celebrate Catholic education every year,” Moloney said. “Last year was a really unique one for everyone. Our world was rocked by the uncertainty of all we faced. So generous individuals and families reached out to the Catholic Foundation to see how they could show their support for Catholic schools, students, families and staff.”

This outburst of generosity led to the establishment of two unique 2020 scholarships: the St. Martin De Porres Scholarship and the St. Anne Scholars Fund. The new funds benefited 63 worthy families at 23 different archdiocesan schools, allowing them to afford a Catholic education for their children.

As the ceremony came to a close, Kathleen McCann, chairwoman of the archdiocese’s Catholic Schools Council and a Catholic Foundation board member, shared her congratulations to the winners and shared how, although she didn’t benefit directly from a Catholic education, she still experienced their indirect impact through her own parents, who both went to Catholic schools in Metro Detroit.

“Most years we were either on the waiting list for Catholic school, or the ‘couldn’t afford it’ list,” McCann said. “Nonetheless, there is no doubt that we all were indirect recipients of the gift of our parents’ Catholic education. It is a gift that keeps on giving.”

McCann acknowledged that the reason anyone is able to enjoy the gift of Catholic education is through the generosity of others, whether through scholarships and grants, parents who make sacrifices, or educators who dedicate themselves to a life of Catholic teaching with little pay.

“We are all aware today of the mounting challenges in our culture and in our children’s schools,” McCann said. “Truth is elusive in many circles, and belief in (God) is thought only to belong to the ignorant or naïve. We know better, of course, and it takes love, courage and boldness to speak to truth to a hostile culture and to guide our little ones to truth and a God who loves them. You literally change lives every single day through your vocation, and you save souls through your work.”

2021 Amazing Catholic Educator Award recipients:

  • Bethany Beyer –– Teacher at Brother Rice High School, Bloomfield Hills
  • Gregory Reichert –– Principal at Everest Collegiate High School and Academy, Clarkston
  • Deborah Sylvester –– Teacher at St. Stephen School, New Boston
  • Melissa Hunt –– Principal at Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Plymouth
  • Mary Elizabeth White –– Teacher at St. Clare of Montefalco School, Grosse Pointe Park
  • Ann Diamond –– Principal at Regina High School, Warren
  • Kathryn Farkas –– Director of Student Services at Our Lady of the Lakes School, Waterford Township
  • Joseph Zmikly –– Principal at St. Joseph School, Lake Orion
  • Anneke Houbeck –– Teacher at St. Catherine of Siena Academy, Wixom
  • Bridget Schick –– Teacher at Gesu Catholic School, Detroit

Leaving your Legacy.

For some of us, the idea of advanced planning brings about the fear of the future. What participations found during a conversation with our friends at Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services, Fr. Day and the Catholic Foundation is just the opposite.

Faithfully planning and preparing for our final resting place brings about the opportunity to joyful consider what is most important for us today, to ensure we and our loved ones are leaving a legacy of love. The dynamic conversation went over many important questions that every family needs to know when it comes to end-of-life services and financial

You are invited to view a replay of the conversation below, both in Spanish and English. You can also view the slides to the presentation by clicking here.

To learn more, contact us at (248) 204-0332 or the Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services at (313) 879-3731.

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English and Spanish:


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Featuring Merrill Lynch Bank of America 

The Catholic Foundation was honored to have a dynamic lineup of speakers to provide a faith-filled market forecast for the current year on February 11th, 2021. Fund holders and friends gathered for the hour-long information session hosted with our friends at Merrill Lynch and other leaders across the country. Panelist dialogued and presented on the state of the market and the impact on values-based Catholic investing.

Our Catholic community is grateful for our fundholders who commit to faith-based investing. When we prioritize Catholic values as a community, we set an example and pave the way for a more just and hopeful world.

Get involved: the Foundation team can share what has worked for others in similar situations — or help you formulate a unique strategy just for you.

See below for some additional documents to help:

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