By Tim Johnson
FORT WAYNE — Julie Kenny is a noted professional in the field of stewardship, and she has been invited to apply her talent as part of the staff of the Development Office as the director of planned giving.
With 19 years experience at Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington, working with parishes and dioceses across the nation with stewardship strategies, Kenny will now “be sharing best practice strategies for promotion of parish endowments, bequests and planned giving strategies, which are vital to the future work of the Church,” said Harry Verhiley, director of the Development Office.
Growing up at Most Precious Blood Parish in Fort Wayne, Kenny and her sister taught catechism. It was there that the seed for love of service to the Church was planted. She called her experience at Our Sunday Visitor working with stewardship initiatives as a grooming experience on “how God molds you, like the clay,” for her work in stewardship.
Kenny noted that her work would involve “assisting parishes and organizations that currently have endowments in the Catholic Community Foundation. I will be assisting them with marketing and promoting their endowments so others will think about giving gifts to the endowment.”
Kenny will also work with parishes and organizations that don’t have an endowment.
She noted, “bequeathing an amount of their estate” in a will “ensures the work of the parish or school — that they have so much passion for — will continue long after they are gone.”
Kenny will work part-time as a planned giving director, on Mondays and Wednesdays, from the Archbishop Noll Catholic Center in Fort Wayne.
“The position carries the responsibility of assisting parishes to promote bequests and planned gifts to support parish endowments and other diocesan funds, such as the all- important Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education,” Verhiley told Today’s Catholic. … She will be the ‘lead agent’ for the Catholic Community Foundation (CCF), which is a collection of more than 120 parish, school and charity endowments.”
Kenny is a 1978 graduate of Bishop Dwenger High School and a graduate of International Business College and Huntington University. She and her husband, John, are the parents of two sons and grandparents of three grandsons. The Kennys are active members of Our Lady of Good Hope Parish in Fort Wayne.
“Parishes, schools and charities should be marketing their own respective endowments, yet not all are,” Verhiley explained. “They can use some assistance from the diocesan development office, and that is why Julie was hired.”
Kenny is in the process of planning two planned giving roundtables — one in Fort Wayne, one in South Bend — that will be scheduled in May. Parish staff and parish leadership will be encouraged to attend and learn techniques to market and promote the endowment if they have one or how to establish an endowment.
“Planned gifting and bequests are the most effective way to fund endowments,” Verhiley said. “Parishes should be promoting planned giving and bequests to fund their endowments because people’s hearts are in their parish and they want to see their parish thrive, long after they are no longer supporting the parish with their offertory gifts.”
Verhiley said, “We want to encourage families to consider a bequest or planned gift directed to their respective parish. A parish endowment is a great way to receive a bequest and/or planned gift, yet not all parishioners know of these giving opportunities. Julie will help parishes spread the word.”
“I want to find out (the parishes’) needs,” Kenny said. “How can I help them the most?”
She hopes to collect stories from the generous people who are creating endowments to tell their story. Oftentimes these are people who don’t want the publicity, Kenny explained, “but by telling their story, they’re giving ideas to other people to do the same thing.”
She is also searching for stories from some of the benefactors who received grants from those endowments. For example, how have they been able to afford Catholic school tuition through the endowment fund?
“God has blessed me so abundantly and I am so grateful,” Kenny said about the new job. But she doesn’t want people to think stewardship is just about money. “There’s much more to it, because God made us who we are. He has made us unique. He has purpose for us. What is that purpose and how can we serve best using our unique talents?”
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