December 6, 2011 // Local

Diocese establishes endowment fund for seminarian education

FORT WAYNE — One of the major challenges facing the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend today is the cost of college education for its seminarians. The annual cost of a seminarian’s education is roughly $45,000, reported Harry Verhiley, director of the diocesan Development Office.

There are several sources of revenue to provide the resources needed for the education of seminarians of the diocese. These include the newly established Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education, the Annual Bishop’s Appeal and the Pentecost Collection for Education of Seminarians, which brought in $278,035 last June.

“I am immensely grateful to the faithful of our diocese for their generosity in the Pentecost collection this past June,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades told Today’s Catholic. “This recently-established annual collection is necessary, given the increased numbers of seminarians in our diocese and the costs of their seminary education. I knew, in instituting this collection, that our people would respond generously because of their love for the priesthood that flows from their love for Christ and His Church.”

The Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education will also be beneficial in funding seminarian education.

According to Verhiley, “The Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education is a permanent fund invested in the Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana (CCF) to provide income for the education of our diocesan seminarians.”

“The initial donated amount of money, referred to as principal, is never spent or disbursed, but invested,” Verhiley said. “The income is there every year and can be relied upon in planning for seminarian education budgets.”

“In the interest of the donor,” Verhiley said, “it gives assurance that the gift will continue to give; and the blessings will continue to flow long after the tax benefit is received.”

Bishop Rhoades told Today’s Catholic, “Many know that the promotion of priestly vocations is one of my top priorities as bishop. This is natural since the priesthood, a gift from the Lord to His Church, is necessary for the celebration of the Eucharist.”

“Good and holy priests are needed for the celebration of the sacraments, the teaching of the faith and the pastoral leadership of our parishes,” Bishop Rhoades continued. “We have 81 parishes in our diocese and I hope that we will always have a sufficient number of priests to staff our parishes.”

“In some areas of the country,” Bishop Rhoades noted, “parishes have had to close due to the lack of priests and also for other reasons (e.g. shifting demographics). My hope is that in the future we will have more priests to continue the fine work of our many priests who are working so faithfully and diligently in the service of our people.”

“I am deeply grateful for the initiative and the generosity of the members of our Catholic Community Foundation Advisory Board in creating the Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education,” Bishop Rhoades said. “This endowment fund is needed to provide for the long-term future of our financial support of seminarian education. I think this initiative will be well received by our people in their financial planning of charitable giving as they consider beneficiaries for their wills and bequests. I think many will want to remember this need as they discern how to make a return to the Lord for His incredible goodness to us.”

Susan Dampeer, a member of Christ the King Parish, South Bend, and president of the Catholic Community Foundation, said, “When I learned of the need for additional support for the education of seminarians in our diocese I felt called to do something. My nephew was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Kalamazoo this summer and my husband (John) and I made a donation (to the Blessed John Paul II endowment) in honor of this wonderful event. Throughout my life I have been blessed to know many extraordinary priests. It is a joy to be able to support the education of these men who will positively influence the lives of my children and grandchildren.”

Bishop Rhoades selected Blessed John Paul II as the name for this endowment fund since the late pope was a great and holy model of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Rhoades said of Blessed John Paul II, “He not only wrote eloquently about the gift and mystery of the priesthood, he also lived it through his own example of self-giving love in imitation of Christ, the great High Priest and Good Shepherd.”

“It is hard for me to predict a continuing increase in the number of seminarians in the future, but I am very hopeful,” Bishop Rhoades said. “We have seen a good increase these past two years, and from my conversations with many young men throughout our diocese, I see openness on the part of many to the possibility that God might be calling them to the priesthood. This is a good sign.”

“I believe that God is indeed calling many young men to the priesthood,” Bishop Rhoades continued. “It is our job to help men in their discernment of this call. It is also our job to pray for vocations to the priesthood. Jesus Himself said: ‘Pray the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers into his vineyard.’”

“The established amount of the Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education is relatively small at $12,832, yet it is very important to initiate the fund as a means of accepting planned gifts,” Verhiley reported.

“The most common planned gift is a bequest,” Verhiley added. “A bequest to the Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education is simply a gift from the donor’s estate left in their will. Of course, other planned gifts like annuities can be established; as well as gifts of stock, mutual funds, real estate and other assets.”

If a donor wishes to give a cash donation to the Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education, gifts may be sent to:

Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education
Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
915 S. Clinton St.
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

“Certainly, we ask all members of the diocese to continue supporting the Annual Bishop’s Appeal and the annual Pentecost Collection for Education of Seminarians,” Verhiley noted. “Bequests and other planned gifts to the Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education endowment may not be right for everyone. We ask that our families discern whether a bequest, charitable gift annuity or other planned giving method may be appropriate for their situation — if so, please remember the Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education.”

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