Mariam Schmitz
Freelance Writer
February 22, 2018 // Diocese

A new beginning for Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana

Mariam Schmitz
Freelance Writer

The Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana has been a steady presence in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend since its inception as a 501(c)(3) corporation in 1994, but it recently underwent changes that are expected to bear even more fruit for the diocese, its ministries, parishes and schools.

The foundation’s goal is stewardship, through the establishment of endowment funds that help provide for the donor’s chosen Catholic charity within the diocese for years to come. Over the past 24 years, it has grown from about $250,000 in assets to approximately $50 million. The leadership of a board of directors that has included Bishop John M. D’Arcy, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, diocesan Chief Financial Officer Joseph Ryan and Msgr. Robert Schulte, as well as a board of advisors, guided the foundation as it grew and flourished.

Not complacent with past success, in 2016, at the suggestion of the foundation’s board of advisors, Bishop Rhoades authorized a subcommittee to explore changes in the foundation’s structure that would promote even more dramatic results. Revisions were discussed and new bylaws were approved by Bishop in August that provide for an expanded board of directors to help lead the foundation, without the need for a board of advisors, and the addition of a chief executive officer position. The new board consists of clergy and lay people from across the diocese.

Michael Shade

Retired corporate lawyer and longtime St. Matthew Cathedral parishioner Paul Schoenle serves as board president. He said the board wanted a CEO who would make the foundation “stand on its own two feet and promote this wonderful concept to the people within the diocese.” After interviewing more than two dozen individuals, it was decided that senior bank executive Michael Shade fit the bill, so Shade was hired as the foundation’s first CEO.

Shade has attended Fort Wayne’s St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish for more than 20 years. He has decades of experience working with trusts and managing departments, in addition to earning his Master of Business Administration degree and becoming a chartered financial analyst. He said that upon seeing the CEO job requirements, he felt the position would “work well with his background” and “hoped he could assist the foundation transition well.” He began working for the foundation on Dec. 1.

Schoenle commented: “We are extremely pleased with Mike’s performance so far. I think we’re moving in the right direction. We only have two months operating (with Mike as CEO), and we have already received several significant contributions to establish funds that benefit the diocese.”

Bishop Rhoades is pleased with the new direction. “The endowment funds in the Catholic Community Foundation are very important for the financial future of the parishes and schools of our diocese,” he said recently. “I am very grateful to all who have donated for these endowments and to all who include the Church’s endowments in their estate planning. These donations and bequests demonstrate the faith and charity of our people, who wish to help the Church in the present and the future to fulfill its holy mission. I am happy that the efforts of the foundation will now increase because of the hiring of a full-time CEO and the strengthening of the responsibilities of the board of directors.”

There are many possible avenues to consider when setting up an account. Donors can choose to contribute to any of the approximately 150 endowments that have already been established. This includes the St. John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education, various Catholic schools and parishes as well as other diocesan activities that are consistent with the Catholic faith. Another option would be to create a new endowment fund either by oneself or with a group. The fund could be named in honor of a loved one, a priest or religious, a family member, or a specific ministry within a parish. It also could be a one-time gift, or there could be multiple contributions.

The interest and income generated from the endowment are what is used to fulfill the donor’s wishes. According to Schoenle, “portfolio investments are in harmony with the social teaching of the Church. We have professional investors who manage where the money is invested and the board reviews their policy as to where they put those investments. There are certain companies and stock portfolios that we would not be in favor of and so we want to make sure we’re putting money into activities or funds that agree with the Catholic faith.”

The foundation’s biggest opportunity for growth comes from estate planning. According to Shade, “assisting individuals in their desire to support the spiritual, educational and charitable ministries of the Catholic Church with current gifts or through the estate planning process is a primary focus of the foundation.” Shade can also assist with the appropriate language to include when leaving a bequest to the foundation.

As the foundation continues to grow, Shade said his goals include establishing an endowment at each parish, getting a website up and running, and ultimately growing the foundation as much as possible. He said he has been in contact with other Catholic community foundations to get additional development ideas.

For more information on the foundation or to establish an endowment fund, contact Michael Shade at 260-422-4611, ext. 3348, or email him at [email protected].

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