Vermont Catholic Community Foundation annual meeting
The eighth annual meeting of the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation took place at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Hall in Shelburne Oct. 19; nearly 100 people attended from parishes around the state to learn more about the foundation’s impact in Vermont.
The foundation investments adhere to the Catholic social teachings and investment guidelines set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and provide a safe, affordable option for Catholic investments. Funds in the foundation are restricted and support 22 cemeteries, five Vermont Catholic Charities programs, 11 diocesan ministries, 29 parishes, 36 Catholic school financial aid and operation funds, and four VCCF charity grants.
Msgr. John McDermott, administrator of the Diocese of Burlington, opened the meeting with a prayer. He acknowledged Hartford Co-adjutor Archbishop Christopher Coyne, 10th bishop of Burlington, for establishing the foundation eight years ago and thanked Ellen Kane, executive director of the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation, for her efforts to grow the foundation.
The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation was established in 2015 to support the apostolic ministries of the Catholic Church in Vermont and support parishes, schools, cemeteries, and charities that help those in need.
“When I started shortly after the foundation was established,” Kane said, “I realized that no funds had been established yet in the foundation, and that is when I adopted the motto ‘with God all things are possible.’”
As of the end of the fiscal year — June 30, 2023 — there were 107 funds and almost $23 million invested.
David Mount, a long-time board member, reported on the investment management of funds in the foundation, celebrating positive returns even in unpredictable markets. “We have had increases of 11.3 percent. This is an amazing amount when we consider the fluctuating market. In the spring of 2023, VCCF distributed earnings to the beneficiaries of the foundation. The distribution was $1,227,328. This was a record distribution for us, exceeding all previous years.”
According to Kane, one of the primary goals of the foundation was to provide a pathway for individuals to leave a legacy of faith for the next generation. She thanked people like Christopher and Delana Braves who recently established two funds honoring family members to support Holy Rosary and St. Mary cemeteries in Richmond and Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland. She also celebrated the tripling of the Christ Our Hope Legacy Society with the partnership of FreeWill, a confidential and easy software available to the Catholic community to create a legal will.
“Nearly 70 percent of people do not complete or update their will, including their Catholic burial wishes,” Kane said, “And unfortunately, if family members are not practicing the faith, they may not give their loved one a Catholic burial if it is not requested. And that is why we decided to offer this resource to the Catholic community.”
In addition, the software has an optional prompt to leave a bequest to a Catholic parish, school, ministry, or other charity. “We have been notified about 18 bequests since launching in August,” Kane said. “We are only notified if the individual wants us to know, and we have been overwhelmed by this generosity that is mostly benefiting parishes. This gives them hope for a bright future, and even if the bequests is small, it has a great impact in combination with others.”
Another priority of the foundation is to give back to the community. “I am happy to report that this year we were able to make grants to 13 parish outreach programs that serve the needy in their community ranging from food pantries to migrant worker outreach to meals for shut ins,” Kane said. “We were also able to grow emergency-aid funds that help thousands of households in financial crisis each year through Vermont Catholic Charities.”
Beneficiaries and grant recipients from several ministries shared the impact of the support, including Andrew Nagy, principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington. “We have nearly $2 million endowment funds invested in the foundation, many being financial aid funds,” he said. “Nearly 40 percent of our students receive financial aid, and I am grateful to the foundation and the individuals who established these funds to help make Catholic education accessible.”
Jennifer Patenaude, coordinator of the Mater Dei Parish Food Shelf in Newport said, “With the recent discontinuation of the Covid-19 aid, we have seen a rise in requests for food. We are so grateful to the foundation which has helped us meet this need.”
Patty Lewis, chair of the Catholic Migrant Ministry of Addison County, said the county has Vermont’s largest population of migrant workers. The VCCF grant helped provide monthly Masses in Spanish and meal gatherings for migrant workers and their families.
“We help those in need because we are Catholic not because they are Catholic,” said Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities.
Kane concluded the event thanking the community for their trust and generosity to the foundation and the ministries it supports.
For more information about the foundation, go to vtcatholicfoundation.org.