By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published October 18, 2019
SMYRNA—The Catholic Foundation of North Georgia held its first-ever luncheon for professional advisors to promote collaboration and legacy giving among their Catholic clients.
Estate planning attorneys, financial planners, wealth managers and insurance advisors gathered at the Chancery of the archdiocese Sept. 26 to learn about the work of the Catholic Foundation.
Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, provided a prayer before the meal thanking God for his blessings and to find ways to direct his generosity for a “greater mission.”
The Catholic Foundation attracts, manages and invests gifts to support current and long term needs of parishes, schools, charities and other ministries and is independent from the archdiocese.
Nancy Coveny, president of the Catholic Foundation, said the foundation has awarded $18 million in grants since 1997.
The goal of the foundation is to link donors with needs.
“We are connectors. We first and foremost gather,” Coveny explained.
There are currently 335 funds under professional management.
Coveny told the stories behind some of the funds including the Francis M. and Margaret Mary Hartman fund for St. Thomas Aquinas Church.
The couple had no children and wanted their parish to benefit from their life’s work and savings.
“The church was his life,” said Coveny about Mr. Hartman after the death of his wife.
Coveny got to know him, spent time with him and supported him during a hospitalization. “What we do is also a ministry. I was there when he came out of surgery. He didn’t survive the recovery,” shared Coveny.
She also shared the story of an anonymous donor who wanted to give in memory of her late husband. The woman donated her husband’s coin collection to the foundation valued at $106,000, which funded the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Fund for Scholarships.
His lifetime hobby was used for good.
“She was really excited,” said Coveny about the donor.
Other funds highlighted by the president were the Conrads Family Education fund for grants to schools and the Sandra Ward Gibson Fund to help people with developmental disabilities.
“People want to give back to God,” said Coveny to the advisors.
When giving to the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia, donors can be confident that the money is invested in accordance with Catholic teaching. The Catholic Foundation complies with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines.
“So that’s a real good fit for many,” said Coveny.
The Catholic Foundation distributes four types of grants: Catholic Community Grants, Parish Enrichment Grants, donor advised fund grants and designated endowment fund grants.
The community and parish grants are awarded through a competitive process with applications taken twice a year. The 2020 spring deadline for grants is Feb. 28.
Other speakers at the network event included John Ripoll of Wells Fargo and parishioner of All Saints Church; Brent Herrin, attorney with Small Herrin, LLP and St. Peter Chanel parishioner; and Rob Ortner, president of the St. Benedict Conference of St. Vincent de Paul.
In the spring, St. Benedict received a $1,000 parish enrichment grant from the foundation to upgrade the computer system to communicate the St. Vincent de Paul ministry and to provide annual tax letters to donors.
Ortner talked about the importance of the St. Vincent de Paul ministry and how the support from the Catholic Foundation has been helpful.
“We definitely see the face of Christ in those we serve,” he said.
Most of those turning to SVdP at St. Benedict have jobs, but live pay check to pay check, said Ortner. A medical bill will set an employed, single mom back and often times those seeking assistance are having to choose between medical treatment or the electric bill.
“Rents are rising four or five times the pace that salaries are rising,” said Ortner about housing in the metropolitan Atlanta area.
In addition to providing immediate help, St. Vincent de Paul also works with clients to encourage additional job or educational training and provide long term resources to help families break free from economic struggles.
Herrin, who recently joined the foundation’s board of directors, said he finds sometimes that people have “no idea the Catholic Foundation exists.”
Herrin shared that he and his wife set up a memorial fund “for a child of ours who passed away.”
“We just wanted a way to honor our son. I can speak from personal experience how important the Catholic Foundation is,” he said in an emotional testimony. “People still give. It’s just amazing to us that people are still remembering our son.”
For more information on the Catholic Foundation or North Georgia, go to www.cfnga.org.