Bishop Donald J. Hying accepts an award and a $1,900 donation to the Diocese of Gary by Sister Michele Dvorak (at podium) and other members of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ during the religious order's Coming Home NWI weekend event Oct. 22-23 at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond. The donation will be used, Bishop Hying has announced, to establish a Mercy Fund endowment to award grants to agencies and organizations performing Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy. (Provided photo)

MERRILLVILLE, November 20, 2016 – The Jubilee Year of Mercy may be officially ending today, but it has inspired a new Mercy Fund being established through the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana to continue supporting works of mercy in the Diocese of Gary.

Bishop Donald J. Hying is using a $1,900 donation from the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ to create the Mercy Fund, an endowment whose annual earnings will be awarded through competitive grants to organizations and institutions sponsoring programs that perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. In addition, the bishop has announced an additional contribution of $10,000 from his personal funds to encourage other donations.

“Recently, Pope Francis invited each diocese to imagine a creative way to continue the legacy of the Year of Mercy,” Bishop Hying explained. “This Mercy Fund, sponsored by the Catholic Foundation of NWI, will allow all of us to contribute to that legacy. Once we have it up and running, I encourage everyone to contribute to it.”

The goal, added the bishop, is to raise an endowment fund of at least $500,000.

“The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ are very happy that our contribution will serve as seed money for this special fund Bishop Hying is creating,” said Sister Judith Diltz, PHJC provincial, who participated in the Oct. 22-23 Coming Home celebration that featured an award presentation honoring a number of individuals and organizations who have worked with the PHJC in Northwest Indiana over the years, including Bishop Hying and the Diocese of Gary.

“We chose the amount because it represents that year (1900) that we Sisters first came to minister in Northwest Indiana,” added Sister Judith. “So we celebrate the ongoing presence that we’ve had in the diocese, and we are delighted that the money will be part of a fund that will continue to keep ministries alive and addressing needs, especially our (focus), which is with women and children though education and health care and social services.”

According to Bishop Hying, “On an annual basis, earnings from the Mercy Fund will be distributed to organizations and institutions right here in our own diocese that heroically and generously live out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. . .it is important work of the diocese.”

The Mercy Fund will be officially unveiled Dec. 1 at an invitation-only Friends of the Foundation Reception, according to Liz Metts, executive director of the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana.

“I am really excited about the Mercy Fund,” she said. “This will be the foundation’s first restricted fund. . .our first grant-making endowment fund.”

Through investments, income will be earned and five percent of the total endowment will be distributed each year by way of competitive grants. Metts said eligibility criteria for grants will be established by the foundation board, a formal application and timeline will be developed, and a board subcommittee will be named to review applications and choose the grantees – which could vary year-to-year from one larger grant amount to several mini-grants.

“Until now we have been just an endowment foundation, like a third-party removed,’ Metts explained. “Someone really supportive of Catholic Charities can give to them, and Catholic Charities decides to put those funds in their endowment fund with the foundation, then withdraw it as needed. Nativity of our Savior parish has two funds with us – one for the parish and one for the school – and they take a monthly collection, but that money is (invested) just for Nativity.”

Metts said the hope is that the Mercy Fund “will really attract our parishioners and lead them to us as a hub for the needs of the diocese. We hope they will really be on the lookout for works of mercy in our diocese. With a grant-making fund like this, we can capitalize each year through publicity and share with the donors how their funds are being put to good use.”

The foundation will publicize the Mercy Fund through individual correspondence to potential donors, “getting out to the parishes to talk about it, and holding a workshop to educate potential donors,” she added.

“With this unifying support for acts of mercy in the diocese, people will know that they can make a donation and it will be there forever,” Metts said. “It saves the donor having to do the leg work and research on different ministries, and they can trust us to put their money to the best use.”

This article was written by Marlene Zloza, of Northwest Indiana Catholic.  Please visit them at NWI Catholic Online.

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