Catholic Foundation provides both immediate and long-term impact in the community. To apply for the 2023 Mercy Grant cycle go to catholicfuture.org/grant-seekers/.
MERCY FUND ALUMNI – A Giving Way of Life
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP), including 22 local conferences within the Diocese of Gary Council, is working to meet social and spiritual needs and build relationships among those in need. The work of the Society models the works of mercy that are supported by the Mercy Fund of the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana. SVDP has received grant money from the Foundation through the Mercy Fund to assist with their ministries. The Foundation is a non-profit 501(c ) 3 agency that manages over 40 endowments for schools, parishes, and various ministries across the diocese. The Mercy Fund was created in 2016 to provide immediate assistance to ministries that see a social need and work to meet the needs of those who are not being served.
The St. Joseph SVDP Conference in LaPorte received one of the initial Mercy Fund grants in 2018 to teach men and women to improve self-sufficiency and restore their self-worth and self-esteem. Classes included legal assistance tips, budget and financial planning, and vocational and technology training.
In 2020, a Mercy grant was awarded to the District Council of Gary to provide emergency food for the hungry and support the food pantries at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) in Hammond and St Ann in Gary. St. Ann serves 120-150 families a month. They are the only SVDP food pantry in Gary.
Diane McKern tells her SVDP story, “My SVDP/OLPH conference serves all of Hessville: middle class families, working class, blue collar. The effects of COVID are still there. People are living paycheck to paycheck. Utilities went up tremendously. There are no rent caps, so landlords started raising rents and food tripled in cost. The regular paycheck is not doing it anymore. Jobs were lost during that time and people weren’t called back.”
“What sets us apart is that St. Vincent DePaul serves the whole person. We provide more than a band aid. Our goal is to know that person as a person. We may not be able to fix the problem but we take the time to talk and listen to what’s going on with them. That sets us aside from a lot of agencies. We are serving Christ through others so they can see Christ in us.”
The need is greatest in the far northwest communities of Hammond, East Chicago, Gary and Whiting. Local conferences that are doing well twin with conferences to share resources, physically not just financially. “Twinning is an absolutely godsend. We have many generous parishes involved in twinning, including St. Thomas More, St. John Bosco, St Paul, and Sacred Heart (Wanatah).”
Every conference provides different services. Some do assist with rent and housing. Many conferences have food pantries. They provide new bed special assistance, financial assistance for utilities, housing, medication, and clothing.
“Under the leadership of Mike Martinelli, our entire council is growing together. We meet every 3 months. We send out requests for assistance between the councils. Because of Mike there is an increase in twinning. Attendance at the Council meetings has gone up. He encourages training and mentoring programs. He filled with the Holy Spirit. He moves us to be faithful servants and to look for Christ in those we serve,” adds McKern.
McKern joined St. Vincent right after completing RCIA, “I was challenged by our parish priest to not just be a Catholic in name only. “There’s more to the church. Pray where the Holy Spirit wants you to be.” I prayed about it. God where do you want me to be? I read an article in the bulletin, ‘Do you like helping people? Come to our meeting.’ So, I went, and the Holy Spirit just plugged me in. The minute I walked in…I knew I was home.”
Leaders and volunteers are always needed. For assistance or to donate contact SVDP at 219-845-7531. For more information on the Mercy grants call the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana 219-769-9292. The 2023 grant cycle runs April 1st through August 1st.
MERCY FUND ALUMNI – HAMMOND CITY RESCUE MISSION
In 2016, the Year of Mercy, Bishop Donald J. Hying initiated the Mercy Fund within the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana. Its main purpose is to provide grants to start-up ministries in the Diocese of Gary and to support works of mercy in all corners of the diocese.
As we prepare for the 2023 Mercy Grant cycle (April 1 – August 1), now is a good time to look back and see the good that those early grant winners are doing today.
We may find it hard to think about homelessness and food insecurity in our own backyard, but for Jamie Sandona, director of religious education and youth ministry at St. John the Baptist/ St Adalbert, this is one charity that comes close to her heart. While the two churches are part of the Whiting community, they technically lay within the Hammond city limits, in Robertsdale. In 2019, the youth group, Peers Helping Youth Reach Enlightenment (PHYRE) received a grant from the Mercy Fund that was allocated for food security at the Men’s Rescue Mission in Hammond. PHYRE had initiated a relationship with the mission in 2016 as part of their Year Of Mercy ministry within the Northlake deanery.
At the time of the award the shelter was hit hard with COVID and the doors closed to new residents as well as any outside deliveries. Sandona found that the greatest need at the time was for plates and bowls that could be washed instead of tossed so the money awarded went to provide that need.
Sandona shares their story, “The men that live there are at the mercy of others for their daily nutrition. Food is only one part of the entire picture. These men had bed mattresses that were duct taped with infestation issues and personal hygiene needs that are solely provided by donors.“
PHYRE Ministry held a fund raiser for the men to purchase new mattresses. “The community came together to donate pillows and bedding. This was about 4 years ago, so the need is ever evolving. The community is far reaching and always willing with help from private donors and local grocery stores. With about 30 men living there and about 45 persons daily for meals the needs are high.”
Four years later, the need is even greater. Sandona is a driving force in supporting the homeless ministry. The men’s shelter is in great need of repairs. “They’re stuck there with no way to get rent or move out. They only eat if someone is providing meals and the men always feed the (homeless) children and women first.” Sandona estimates there are at least 100 homeless living on the streets in the downtown Hammond area and the only shelters available for women are for those in abusive relationships or addiction recovery. The homeless, even those in shelters never know when they will receive their next meal.
Financial support for the ministry comes from word-of-mouth and there is no shortage of volunteers. For more information contact Jamie Sandona at St. John the Baptist, 219-659-0023. The Mercy Fund awards several thousand dollars each year to support home-grown ministries, which in the past have included the Wheelchair Ramp ministry, Centers of Hope, Walking with Moms, Blessing Bags, Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Sojourner Truth House, Prison Ministry, Food Pantries, Soup Kitchens and many others.
To make a donation to the Mercy Fund go to https://www.catholicfuture.org/donate/. Your gift to the Catholic Foundation provides both immediate and long-term impact in the community. To apply for the 2023 Mercy Grant cycle go to catholicfuture.org/grant-seekers/.
The Mercy Fund is one of over 40 endowment funds within the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana. Endowment funds allow the Catholic Foundation to channel and reserve funds in perpetuity to support the needs of Church ministries. Donations to the CFNWI endowments are preserved and semi-annual distributions of 5% come from earnings, dividends, and market growth.
MERCY FUND ALUMNI – WHEELCHAIR MINISTRY
At one time or another, each of us have given a gift of time, talent or treasure to someone we know. Do you ever wonder what impact that gift had in that person’s or family’s life? Were they able to turn that gift around like the Good Steward in the Gospel of Matthew (25: 14-30) and increase the value one hundredfold?
In 2018, the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana initiated the first of many grants through the Mercy Fund, which was established in 2016 by Bishop Donald J. Hying to celebrate the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. Over the next several issues of the Northwest Indiana Catholic we will introduce you to several different ministries that have been assisted by the Mercy Fund and give you an opportunity to get to know the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana.
As we prepare for the 2023 Mercy Grant cycle which begins April 1st, now is a good time to look back and see the good that those early grant winners are doing today.
From being an electrician and electronics technician, Jim Koeling never thought he would be the founder of a growing care ministry in northwest Indiana. Hearing about a ramp ministry in Porter and LaPorte county started by the Kiwanis, Jim felt called to start a ramp ministry in Lake County. Without hesitation, his pastor Father Marty Dobrzynski agreed to have their parish, St. Michael the Archangel, sponsor the Mercy Grant application.
Koeling was very moved when his application for a wheelchair ramp project was funded by the Mercy Fund, “This was the thing that validated this ministry. When we received the grant for $1,000 it was God showing me that this is my mission. This could never have happened if the Holy Spirit were not involved. I am humbled to be a part of it.” Within 2-3 days everything started to fall into place. Koeling got his first ramp and before long he was receiving referrals from hospitals and social workers. He started applying for other grants. Jim continued to scour his sources to locate used and donated ramps. Recently they installed a ramp and chair lift at St. Ann’s parish in Gary.
The Mercy Fund is one of over 40 endowment funds within the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana. Money was collected by personal gifts and fund-raising events, and the needs continue to grow every year.
Endowment funds allow the Catholic Foundation to channel and reserve funds in perpetuity to support the needs of the Church’s ministries. Donations to the CFNWI endowments are preserved and semi-annual distributions of 5% come from earnings, dividends, and market growth.
“Never in my wildest imagination could I imagine the success,” said Koeling. The ministry recently installed its 50th ramp. As the ministry continued to grow, they partnered with Catholic Charities to administer the program. One of their biggest challenges right now is to find storage as they continue seeking used ramps. Koeling is a graduate of the Lay Ecclesial Ministry program, or LEM, one of the many endowed programs in the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana. Earnings from the LEM fund makes scholarships available for potential LEM students.
To make a donation to the Mercy Fund go to https://www.catholicfuture.org/grant-seekers/ or call the Foundation at 219-769-9292, ext 268. Your gift to the Catholic Foundation provides both immediate and long-term impact in the community.
The Mercy Fund is one of over 40 endowment funds within the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana. Endowment funds allow the Catholic Foundation to channel and reserve funds in perpetuity to support the needs of the Church ministries.
This year’s Mercy Grant award cycle runs April 1 through August 1, 2023. Go to Mercy Fund for more details.