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Perpetual Care Fund supports Vermont Catholic cemeteries

“Operating a cemetery is very expensive in today's world, and for that reason we need to be good stewards of all cemetery funds to provide a sacred place for those who have placed their love ones in our care,” said Robert E. Brown, director of cemeteries for the Diocese of Burlington. “The Catholic faithful expect our cemeteries to be a place of reverence, a peaceful area for prayer and reflection.”
But maintaining them is expensive.
The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation provides pathways for Catholics to leave a legacy that will shape the future of the Catholic Church in Vermont. “One of those pathways is the Perpetual Care Fund which enables our Catholic Parish Cemeteries to place their perpetual care monies together for an opportunity of a higher return on their investment,” Brown explained. “The foundation will manage these funds and distribute them on a percentage based on the principle invested. This will provide our cemeteries much needed funds for their operations.”
Perpetual Care by definition is the continued maintenance and care of the burial spaces, roads, buildings, equipment, tools, compensation for employees and record keeping.
Parish cemeteries are "not all that uncommon" in the Midwest, said Grant Emmel, who is charged with keeping tabs on the 125 cemeteries in the Madison Diocese.
"The parish cemetery is like a business. You've got to approach it with that kind of mindset," Emmel told Catholic News Service. "You've got inventory, you're selling things, you've got customer service, a lot of record-keeping — more so than a general nonprofit might think about. Then you've got the whole ministry side. ... You start adding that in, there's a lot to learn, but it's not overwhelming."
He explained the dual nature of cemetery as business and ministry: "Like catechesis, like religious education, like the Catholic school, the cemetery is a ministry. In some situations, you say: 'Listen, the cemetery has to be self-sustaining. It has to pay its own way.' That's not an unreasonable thing to say, but at some level, there's going to be some level of expectation that this is important to us, and it's worth it to us to expend some of our resources to keep this up and running.”
Learn more about The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation.
--Catholic News Service contributed to this article.
  • Published in Diocesan

Vermont Catholic Community Foundation tops $10 million

The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation has completed its first year of providing the Catholic community with a choice to establish endowments for what matters most to them and leave a legacy of faith for the next generation.
The foundation currently includes 32 funds and more than $10 million supporting Catholic ministries throughout Vermont, an increase of 12 funds and $2.5 million since June 30.
More than 70 people joined the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation Board of Directors and Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne to celebrate a successful first year at an Oct. 25 meeting at Shelburne Museum’s Pizzagalli Center for Arts and Education. 
Ellen Kane, executive director of the foundation, said that it was only because of the “support and trust of so many people in the room and the grace of God who makes all things possible” that during its first year the foundation was able to establish 20 funds and $7.5 million to support Catholic schools, parishes, cemeteries, ministries and charities throughout the statewide Diocese. 
Kane added that most Catholic Dioceses have a community foundation separate from the Diocese to support the growth of their ministries and ensure the vitality of their parishes, schools and charities, because of a lack of funding sources for religious organizations. Out of 181 dioceses nationwide, 143 have a Catholic foundation. Many were begun in the 1980s and have grown from a few funds to several hundred.
“Imagine how the Catholic faith could grow in our state if every school, parish and ministry had an endowment fund that matured over time and provided a reliable source of annual income so they could focus on other things,” Kane said, “like providing scholarships to more students, increasing youth ministry and adult formation programs, providing more emergency aid to families in financial crisis, meeting the needs of more low-income elderly in our assisted living programs, and the list goes on.”
Jon Pizzagalli, newly appointed chair of the foundation’s board, said the foundation offers “an opportunity for the lay community to get involved in a way that wasn’t possible before.”
The foundation is comprised of a volunteer, mostly lay, voting board that will grow over time to represent every region of the state and give voice to the unique issues impacting each area.
“The days of the Catholic Church retreating are over,” Bishop Coyne said. “We have something to offer to the community, and we are here to stay.”
The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation is a separate 501(C)3 from the Diocese of Burlington and provides donors with a way to establish endowments for ministries that matter most to them and to leave a legacy of faith for the next generation.
To view the annual report and learn more about The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation visit: vtcatholicfoundation.org or contact Ellen Kane at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Published in Diocesan

Diocese of Burlington launches new foundation aimed at supporting Church activities and helping needy

A new Catholic foundation in the Diocese of Burlington is aimed at supporting Church activities and helping people in need.

Mission and purpose

The mission of the new Vermont Catholic Community Foundation is to support and serve apostolic activities of the Church and make grants to nonprofit organizations in the statewide Diocese of Burlington that reflect the compassion of Christ in service to the community.

“Our purpose is to provide pathways for caring people to leave a legacy that will shape the future of our Catholic Church,” said Ellen Kane, executive director of the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation. “Whether donors wish to support their own parish, a specific ministry or Catholic education, VCCF is the mechanism that will bring the Catholic community together to build the foundation for generations to come.”

The foundation will allow the Catholic community a choice to support what they value most and to shape the evolution of the faith in Vermont.  

Why there is a need

There are limited resources available in Vermont to support Catholic activities and education; many of the existing foundations in the state will not make grants for religious purposes or to religious organizations. Often parishes and schools compete with one another for support from the same few donors.

Developing a Catholic foundation that meets the needs of the community and furthers the mission of the Church is not a new idea. There are 181 Catholic dioceses in the United States and 143 Catholic foundations — many of which formed in the early 1980s. Eight-five percent of these dioceses (122) use a foundation separate from the diocese. 

Foundations act as both a fundraising resource and investment management vehicle. “Just like colleges and universities, dioceses have recognized the importance of building endowment funds for stability and future mission of the Church as well as provide accountability to the community,” Kane said.

There are numerous state and federal regulations in order to become a community foundation that require accountability to the donor and the community, including an annual meeting, report and audit.  

Support for the Catholic community

Vermont Catholic Community Foundation has applied to become a 501c3 separate from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, and the funds will be separate. The foundation will support Catholic and other social service programs across the state that align with the mission and social justice teachings of the Church at the direction of donors. The foundation will respond to the needs of the donors by offering more choice about what they want to fund and will offer planned giving options such as bequests, endowments, trusts, charitable gift annuities, insurance and specialty assets. 

“In addition, our investment policies reflect our faith,” Kane said. All investments meet the Catholic ethical standards required by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops guidelines. 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has opened two funds in the diocese to support Catholic Schools and seminarian education. Just like the parishes and schools, the RCDOB has annual appeals, such as Bishop Fund, to support specific ministries. An endowment in the foundation will provide steady income and less reliance on the annual appeal to raise it all.

Types of funds

The fund has experienced staff that will meet with donors seeking faith-based investment opportunities that benefit the mission of the Church. A minimum gift of $10,000 is necessary to start a fund, but after a fund is established, there is no minimum contribution to grow the fund.

A donor or organization may choose to open a restricted fund, designated to a specific parish, school or region, and the money will be distributed annually based on the designation. In the case of an unrestricted fund like the Catholic Schools Fund, schools seeking funds will apply for a grant based on the purpose and criteria set forth in the fund agreement.  

Current funds

The foundation was incorporated in December 2015. “In July 2016, we finalized our articles, bylaws and fund agreement documents. Now we are ready to serve the community,” Kane said.

 At the end of August, three funds were opened and an additional four funds are expected to open by the end of the year:

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington 

• Peter A. Nolin and Bertha A. Mooney Fund: $1,419,427.77

Education of young men to the Catholic priesthood
from the Diocese of Burlington.

• Joseph C. and Marie L. Turk Fund: $665,623.64

Papal See support and Roman Catholic schools and
charities of the City of Burlington.

Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.

• Gokey Fund for Catholic Healthcare: $1,011,729.09

Catholic health care to persons in need of such
assistance within the Diocese of Burlington.

Board of directors

The board is seeking members so all regions of the diocese are represented. Current members are: Brydon Beasant, realtor, Pall Spera Company; Richard Cote, assistant vice president of advancement and chief of staff at Dartmouth College; Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne; Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Healthcare Business Executive; Msgr. John McDermott, vicar general of the Diocese of Burlington and pastor of Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish in Burlington; David Mount, Westaff owner; Jon Pizzagalli; and Kane. 

Bishop Coyne wholeheartedly supports and encourages the work of the foundation: “I thank Ellen Kane and Rick Cote (board member) for all of the hard work and time they put into making VCCF a reality, and I want to encourage parishes, organizations and the people of the diocese to be generous to the Foundation by establishing endowments that will serve the Church here in Vermont now and the future.”

Kane has served as CEO of the Fanny Allen Foundation, a Catholic foundation, and has more than 20 years of fundraising experience for non-profit health, social service and educational organizations. “I’m excited to use my unique combination of skills to benefit the Catholic community in Vermont,” she said. “I believe the Catholic community needs to come together and support each other to ensure our future — this is long overdue.” 

For more information about the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation, please contact Ellen Kane: (802) 846-5837 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic content editor/staff writer.
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