Friday, August 17, 2018



One of the needs of the Diocese of Kingstown down the the Caribbean country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a person trained in grant writing. Last year we identified Mr. Yohance Gibson as the person who could be trained for such a job. 

One of the programs I helped implement as Director of the Saint Meinrad Institute for Priests and Presbyterates was the program outlined below. The people at Saint Meinrad were generous enough to give Mr. Yohance Gibson a full scholarship to attend this program.  We are excited about the fact that Mr. Gibson has completed the onsite part of the program and the good this could mean for the whole island country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 


lake_institute_logo_4c_500_dpi_wide.jpgIndiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy's Lake Institute on Faith & Giving is conducting its Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising (ECRF). The certificate program will be hosted by Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology from August 13-16, 2018.
The ECRF - a four-day intensive program with a practical application project - provides the research, tools and customized training to meet the growing needs of leaders in religious communities and fundraisers of faith-based organizations. The focus is on the cultural, organizational and philanthropic practices unique to religious institutions that, in turn, enable donors to experience the joy of generous giving.
Attendees include religious leaders in faith-based organizations and institutions who wish to learn more about the spirituality of fundraising and gain a core foundation in fundraising principles. Enrollment in the program is open and specifically tailored to all faith traditions. Typical attendees include clergy, laity, judicatory executives, and development leaders and professionals at faith-based organizations.

Course Description

Four one-day core courses, selected readings, online peer-group conversations, an integration paper outlining a year-long fundraising program and a final paper assessing the effectiveness of the fundraising program frame the requirements for the Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising.
  1. Nurturing Generous Congregations and Organizations -This foundational course will survey the changing landscape of religious giving with a focus on its implications for faith-based fundraising. The concept of generosity will be explored as both a religious virtue and a practice, with attention given to the social and interpersonal dynamics of nurturing generosity.
    Learning Objectives• Become aware of tools for assessing the level of generosity in participant's organization or congregation• Explore the socio-religious dynamics of generosity• Discover the keys to building an organizational structure nurturing generous giving• Learn how to institutionalize generosity: the role of values, beliefs, vision, mission and storytelling
    Learning Tools Utilized• The Generosity Checklist• The Adaptive Leadership Model• The Hedgehog Concept 
  2. Nurturing Generous Donors - An experiential and autobiographical course focusing on the giving history and philosophy of each participant. Attention will be paid to donor profiles and donor motivations for giving. This course will also provide the fundraiser with conversational tools to use in nurturing a prospective donor through a process of discernment.Learning Objectives Awaken development professionals and religious leaders to a spiritual way of looking at fundraising as an opportunity to nurture diverse donors and facilitate their application of generosity principles in a parish setting• Examine the metrics used to measure philanthropy while exploring the role of relationships and faith-building opportunities for donors in parish settings• Learn how to solicit gifts unapologetically and act on your personal assurance of God's abundance• Incorporate your theological tradition in a personalized approach to fundraising; integrating key stakeholders in planning; and promote discernment and adaptive leadership in discipleship developmentLearning Tools UtilizedThis seminar will be an interactive learning experience that includes a mix of instructional methods such as mini-lectures, interactive discussions, individual work and case study application.• The Giving Pyramid• The Constituency Model• Case Preparation
  3. Fundraising as Ministry  -  A practical course with an emphasis on fundraising principles, practices, tools and techniques.
    Learning Objectives• Understand the difference between transactional and transformational giving• Assess your personal giving and money autobiography• Explore the relationship between religious values and generous giving• Connect the role of donor care as an extension of pastoral care• Understand the world of the donor
    Learning Tools Utilized• The Philanthropic Autobiography• The Cycle of Discernment• The New Giving Paradigm 
  4. Shaping a Theology of Money  - A presentation on the theology of money and giving from a Roman Catholic perspective.Learning Objectives• Have participants distinguish concepts of stewardship, philanthropy, development/advancement and fundraising while also recognizing what these have in common • Identify scriptural references that address "the meaning of money"• Explore theological principles important to "shaping a theology of money"• Expand participants' understanding of stewardship beyond "time, talent and treasure"• Help participants shape their own theology of moneyLearning Tools Utilized• Definitions exercise: stewardship, philanthropy, development/advancement and fundraising• Scripture search: Contradictory messages and muddled meaning• Shaping your own theology of money: 1) Scriptural references that speak to me
    2) Theological principles that frame my work 3) Spirituality for daily living (and giving)
  5. Integration Paper - Upon completion of the four courses, the candidate will produce an integration paper outlining a year-round stewardship or annual giving program designed for the particular institution he or she serves. The paper is to reflect the insights of each of the four courses and outline how these practices and ideas will be integrated into the fundraising program and mission of the particular organization or congregation. 
  6. Reflection Paper - Each participant will produce a final reflection paper in which he or she assesses: (a) his or her role and personal effectiveness in the year-long fundraising program, (b) the role of the institution in the program, (c) the way in which constituents responded to this program, (d) the promise this program holds for the ongoing financial health of the institution or congregation. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole
country isn't in flames, that there are people in the country besides
politicians, entertainers and criminals.

Charles Kuralt

"After the Communist invasion of South Korea, [Father Kapaun] was among the first American troops that hit the beaches and pushed their way north through hard mountains and bitter cold. In his understated Midwestern way, he wrote home, saying, “this outdoor life is quite the thing” and “I prefer to live in a house once in a while.” But he had hope, saying, “It looks like the war will end soon.”

That’s when Chinese forces entered the war with a massive surprise attack -- perhaps 20,000 soldiers pouring down on a few thousand Americans. In the chaos, dodging bullets and explosions, Father Kapaun raced between foxholes, out past the front lines and into no-man’s land -- dragging the wounded to safety.

When his commanders ordered an evacuation, he chose to stay -- gathering the injured, tending to their wounds. When the enemy broke through and the combat was hand-to-hand, he carried on -- comforting the injured and the dying, offering some measure of peace as they left this Earth.

When enemy forces bore down, it seemed like the end -- that these wounded Americans, more than a dozen of them, would be gunned down. But Father Kapaun spotted a wounded Chinese officer. He pleaded with this Chinese officer and convinced him to call out to his fellow Chinese. The shooting stopped and they negotiated a safe surrender, saving those American lives. 

Then, as Father Kapaun was being led away, he saw another American -- wounded, unable to walk, laying in a ditch, defenseless. An enemy soldier was standing over him, rifle aimed at his head, ready to shoot. And Father Kapaun marched over and pushed the enemy soldier aside. And then as the soldier watched, stunned, Father Kapaun carried that wounded American away. 

This is the valor we honor today -- an American soldier who didn’t fire a gun, but who wielded the mightiest weapon of all, a love for his brothers so pure that he was willing to die so that they might live. And yet, the incredible story of Father Kapaun does not end there. 

He carried that injured American, for miles, as their captors forced them on a death march. When Father Kapaun grew tired, he’d help the wounded soldier hop on one leg. When other prisoners stumbled, he picked them up. When they wanted to quit -- knowing that stragglers would be shot -- he begged them to keep walking.

In the camps that winter, deep in a valley, men could freeze to death in their sleep. Father Kapaun offered them his own clothes. They starved on tiny rations of millet and corn and birdseed. He somehow snuck past the guards, foraged in nearby fields, and returned with rice and potatoes. In desperation, some men hoarded food. He convinced them to share. Their bodies were ravaged by dysentery. He grabbed some rocks, pounded metal into pots and boiled clean water. They lived in filth. He washed their clothes and he cleansed their wounds.

The guards ridiculed his devotion to his Savior and the Almighty. They took his clothes and made him stand in the freezing cold for hours. Yet, he never lost his faith. If anything, it only grew stronger. At night, he slipped into huts to lead prisoners in prayer, saying the Rosary, administering the sacraments, offering three simple words: “God bless you.” One of them later said that with his very presence he could just for a moment turn a mud hut into a cathedral."


That spring, he went further -- he held an Easter service. As the sun rose that Easter Sunday, he put on [his] purple stole and led dozens of prisoners to the ruins of an old church in the camp. And he read from a prayer missal that they had kept hidden. He held up a small crucifix that he had made from sticks. And as the guards watched, Father Kapaun and all those prisoners -- men of different faith, perhaps some men of no faith -- sang the Lord’s Prayer and “America the Beautiful.” They sang so loud that other prisoners across the camp not only heard them, they joined in, too -- filling that valley with song and with prayer.

That faith -- that they might be delivered from evil, that they could make it home -- was perhaps the greatest gift to those men; that even amidst such hardship and despair, there could be hope; amid their misery in the temporal they could see those truths that are eternal; that even in such hell, there could be a touch of the divine. Looking back, one of them said that that is what “kept a lot of us alive.”

Yet, for Father Kapaun, the horrific conditions took their toll. Thin, frail, he began to limp, with a blood clot in his leg. And then came dysentery, then pneumonia. That’s when the guards saw their chance to finally rid themselves of this priest and the hope he inspired. They came for him. And over the protests and tears of the men who loved him, the guards sent him to a death house -- a hellhole with no food or water -- to be left to die.

And yet, even then, his faith held firm. “I’m going to where I’ve always wanted to go,” he told his brothers. “And when I get up there, I’ll say a prayer for all of you.” And then, as he was taken away, he did something remarkable -- he blessed the guards. “Forgive them,” he said, “for they know not what they do.” Two days later, in that house of death, Father Kapaun breathed his last breath. His body was taken away, his grave unmarked, his remains unrecovered to this day.


Father Kapaun, of the Diocese of Wichita (Kansas), was a U.S. Chaplain who died on May 23, 1951, in a prisoner of war camp in Pyoktong, North Korea. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in Unsan, where he was captured. In 1993, the Holy See named Father Kapaun “Servant of God.” Ten years later, on April 11, 2013, Father Kapaun was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously by President Barack Obama. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018



Strengthened by that food, Elijah walked
 forty days and forty nights.
First Book of Kings

One of the most satisfying things about being a priest is "being there" during the "big moment's" of your lives (a) when you are carried into the church as babies for your baptisms, (b) when you walk into the church for your weddings and (c) when you are rolled into the church for your funerals.

Sometimes, we are even privileged to "be there" as you leave this world. I don't know how many times I have “been there” with your families - in hospitals after failed surgeries, in nursing homes at the end of very long lives, in their own homes under the guidance of Hospice or even in morgues after suicides or tragic motorcycle or car wrecks- as you say goodbye to your loved ones, amid great weeping and wailing. It's something we never get used to and something that is always emotional. Even if we don't know you all that well, it is still a privilege to be "allowed into" that sacred space and those solemn moments.

In those situations, death sometimes comes quickly and sometimes very slowly. If it comes slowly, you have time to pray with the family and help them get used to the idea of letting go – as well as helping the dying get ready to leave this world and enter the next - by hearing their last confession, anointing them and giving them holy communion. When you give a dying person their last "holy communion," that holy communion is called viaticum. The word viaticum comes from three Latin words, via (the way), te (you) and cum (with), meaning "that which you take with you” as you go on your way. In this case, that which you take with you on your way is "the bread of life," "the body of Christ." It is given to the dying to strengthen them on their final journey to heaven. It is sort of like a "packed lunch" for the "big trip."  It is a beautiful thought because the last bit of food they will ever eat in this life is the flesh of Christ himself. Who better to take with you to meet your creator? 

One of the most moving experiences I have ever had in this regard, happened at University Hospital a few years ago. A farmer from my hometown, whom I knew well, had been in a terrible tractor accident. His tractor had flipped over on him and crushed him. After several days on a respirator, and having been declared "brain dead," by the time I got there the family had already decided to turn off all the machines and let him go, but they wanted to wait till I got there. He was unconscious, his head crushed and swollen. I knew he could not swallow, so an idea came to me at that moment. As they were turning off the machines, I placed the gold container with the "viaticum," which I had brought, on his chest, over his heart. With "heavenly bread," "the body of Christ," over his heart, we prayed for his safe journey into eternal life as his life here on earth gradually faded away before our very eyes.

Several years ago, I went down to Meade County to have Mass for my niece and her husband in their living room. He was about ten days away from death from Lukemia and it was their 30th wedding anniversary. I had married them as well. I anointed him for the last time, renewed their vows for the last time and gave him communion, “bread for his final journey home.” I left there knowing that I would never see him again here on earth, knowing that that was their last anniversary, knowing that the next time I would be with them was at his funeral Mass. I left there knowing that I had given him “bread for his journey home.”   

Friends! We don't just give viaticum to people when they die, we give it out every Sunday when we gather in here to celebrate the Eucharist. We receive "heavenly bread" from this altar to strengthen us for the week ahead - something we have done ever since Christ's "last supper."  Like the bread that the angel gave Elijah, in our first reading tonight, bread to strengthen him for his forty day walk to the mountain of God, the bread that we eat here is meant to strengthen us, as disciples of the Lord Jesus, us in the next seven-day journey ahead of us.

We do two things, really, when we come here. We come, first of all, to thank God for last week - for all the blessings bestowed on us and all the lessons we learned - even the hard ones.

Second, we come for nourishment - and we get that nourishment in two ways. We get nourishment from hearing the Word of God read to us and explained to us. We get nourishment from "feeding on" the body and blood of Jesus under the forms of bread and wine. Just before we come up here to receive that nourishment, we pray together that our loving God will "give us each day our daily bread" and so he does!

Fellow Catholics, just as we would not accept an invitation to someone's house for a special dinner and then pay no attention to them when we got there, we cannot come here every Sunday and pay no attention to the one who invited us to feast at his table - Jesus Christ himself. We must teach ourselves to focus our attention completely on what we hear, what we say, what we do and what we eat and drink. Full, active and conscious participation during our weekend Masses is bsolutely necessary if we hope to “get anything out of” this experience.

After almost 49 years of priesthood, I have come to believe that those people who say they "get nothing out of mass" are mainly those who “put very little into it.” They do not pay attention to what they are doing when they come here. As Henry Miller once said, "The moment one gives close attention to anything, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."

For years, I celebrated Sunday Night Masses at Bellarmine University with Melanie Prejean Sullivan my fellow campus minister. Melanie's e-mails always said at the bottom, quoting Thomas Merton, "One must attend carefully to everything. If you apply yourself carefully to what you do, great springs of strength and truth are realized in you."  

Those who do not pay attention to what we are doing here are like those Jeremiah described. "They have eyes but see not. They have ears but hear not."  Let's train our eyes, ears, voices and bodies to "pay attention" to our prayer so that we can "get something out of it" and leave here “nourished” so that we can be all that God has called us to be!  All athletes know that they need to be nourished well if they hope to win their upcoming game! Just so, all of us need to be nourished on the Bread of Life if we hope to handle all that will come our way in the week ahead!