The Catholic Foundation of Northwest Pennsylvania is pleased to announce during its three 2023 grant cycles, 35 grants totaling $176,310 were awarded to support 28 projects. Funded by the Foundation’s Education Endowment, Faith Formation Endowment, and Catholic Social Ministry Endowment as well as endowments established by individuals to carry out their charitable goals, these grants support a wide range of projects and needs and will have impact throughout the thirteen counties of the Diocese of Erie.

The spring grant cycle included a grant awarded to Saint Mary Parish in Saint Marys, a first-time recipient. They received a grant to assist with parish staff attendance at the Defending the Faith Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH. There is already a tradition at Saint Mary Parish to offer spiritual formation opportunities to their staff members. In her grant application, Bonnie Pearson commented that “faith building will strengthen relationships and help us to be a more effective evangelizing force for the parish and faith formation department.” Our Lady of Peace Parish, Erie, received a grant to support a parish-wide faith formation program focused on increasing understanding and appreciation of the Mass. This program is part of their Eucharistic Revival efforts.

Multiple schools benefited from grants during this cycle as well. DuBois Central Catholic, DuBois, was awarded a grant to fund school-wide student retreats, pilgrimages, and guest speakers. Venango Region Catholic School, Oil City, received a grant to support the purchase of competition robotics for the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade STEM robotic program. Applicant Greg Knox wrote in the grant application that “we want to equip our students with the skills to meet an ever-changing world. Through learning about robotics and coding with VEX IQ, we can put our students on that path to success.”

EDIT WEB Shenango Valley Check Photo IMG 4599
(l to r) Lisa Louis (Executive Director) and Roberta Leonard (Foundation board member) present grant check to Angela Surano (school board member) and Karen Ionta (President) of Shenango Valley Catholic School System.

Shenango Valley Catholic School System, Hermitage, was the recipient of two grants supporting their theology program. The first grant will fund updated theology textbooks, teacher manuals, and starter kits. The second grant will support the purchase of children’s bibles for kindergarten through sixth grade students at Saint John Paul II Elementary School. Referencing the goals of the theology program at the school, grant applicant Angela Surano commented that “our hope is that our students learn and appreciate the teachings of Christ and that they carry this with them into adulthood. We also hope that they share these teachings within their own families and communities in order to spread God's Word.” These resources funded by a Foundation grant will support these goals.

More bibles will reach the hands of Catholic school students through a grant to Saint Joseph Catholic School, Warren. They will use the grant funds they received to purchase bibles for every student. Carrie Pearson, principal, wrote in her grant application that teachers will be better able to incorporate scripture into their lessons when each student has access to their own bible and students will be able to follow along with the daily scripture readings that begin every school day.

Every Confirmation student in the diocese will be the beneficiary of a grant awarded to the Diocese of Erie Faith Formation Office. Mary Hickin, Director of Faith Formation for Catechesis and Sacraments in the Diocese of Erie, explains that “this diocesan-wide Confirmation retreat is the capstone event for the new faith formation process for grades 6 through 12 and the first of its kind in our diocese. We expect the students to come away with a better understanding of what it means to be a fully initiated and responsible member of the Catholic faith, and to have a better prayer life and closeness to God.”

Catholic Social Ministry Grants are awarded to ministries and projects that embrace and align with Catholic social teaching and are answering the Gospel call to respond to needs within the community. In 2023, the Foundation expanded the list of organizations eligible for Catholic Social Ministry grants. As a result, the ministries of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania are newly eligible organizations for the Foundation’s Catholic Social Ministry grant. Three Sisters of Saint Joseph affiliated ministries received grants totaling $19,507: the Neighborhood Network in Erie, St. James Haven in Meadville, and St. Patrick’s Haven in Erie.

2023 CSM Maria House
Lisa Louis presents grant check to Robert Boeh (board president) and Joe Tarquinio (Executive Director) of Maria House Project

Maria House Project in Erie was grateful for this new grant opportunity. Maria House Project is a drug and alcohol counseling and recovery facility for men. They also house men released from correctional facilities that are in need of a new way of life. They provide care for not only the residents’ physical needs but also their spiritual needs. Maria House was awarded a grant that will support the residents’ spiritual development. Funds will be used to expand the program’s library and spiritual resources and will also be used to provide the men with a personalized religious medal upon completion of the program. Remaining funds will support staff training and updating and replenishing drug testing equipment to ensure residents are maintaining their sobriety.

The Kinship Ministry of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Erie helps prepare new homes for refugees who come to Erie. They received a grant to purchase supplies to make first aid kits, a federal requirement for refugee households, as well as a meal for the volunteers who assemble the kits. Applicant Jessie Hubert, Director of Parish Community Engagement at Sacred Heart Parish, shared that any federally required items not donated to the houses must be purchased by the family through their modest start-up budget. “Every donation we make, such as first aid kits, puts more money in their pockets.”

Prince of Peace Center in Farrell has a mission to strengthen families, build community, and reduce poverty. Their grant funds will support their Hope and Faith programs, which help clients in crisis learn strategies that help prevent reoccurring emergency situations. Saint Martin Center in Erie similarly helps those in crisis through a variety of programs. The grant funds received will provide mortgage assistance to those in immediate need. Both Prince of Peace Center and Saint Martin Center received grants from the Foundation’s Robert M. Gallivan Charitable Endowment to support these projects.

2023 CSM Rural House of Mercy
Lisa Louis presents grant check to Sr. Trish Tyler and Sr. Margaret Park of Rural House of Mercy

Rural House of Mercy in DuBois, a first-time grantee, is a traveling ministry sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas that serves rural people in the area with spiritual and material needs. They were awarded a grant which will impact their community in multiple ways. By partnering with people of Bethany Evangelical Covenant Church, parishioners from the DuBois Catholic Community, The Salvation Army, and local businesses, the sisters work together to provide a healthy, balanced meal twice a month for people in need, many of whom are elderly and poor. Grant funds will be used to purchase earth-friendly containers and food for these outreach dinners. Funds will also be used to purchase food cards which will be used for children with special dietary needs to supplement an already existing community backpack program. Collaboration with the local Methodist community will benefit from the grant in the form of the purchase of discounted clothing for those in the local area who are under the poverty level.

Finally, the Diocese of Erie Office for Women Religious received a $13,850 grant to support the work of Catholic Rural Ministry in Oil City. This project specifically will provide funds for families who are in immediate crisis and need assistance with rent, utilities, medical treatment, or transportation. Applicant Justine Geiger, RSM, said the aid provided will stabilize families. Their “financial crisis will be alleviated, and the family will have a plan of action for future self-sufficiency.”

The fall Education Grant cycle awarded grants to parishes and schools seeking technology, spiritual opportunities, and other unique projects. Blessed Sacrament School in Erie, seeking to implement a Financial Literacy pilot program for middle school students, turned to the Catholic Foundation for support and was awarded a $7,000 grant for the program. This program will benefit middle school students at both Blessed Sacrament School and Saint James School and will be offered in collaboration with the Youth Literacy Project and B&T Erie. This advanced level program is intended to enhance the student's financial experience by learning and adopting the necessary financial knowledge and best practices that are essential for success. The program's teaching professionals have been trained to emphasize the importance of financial education, decision making skills, how to locate, create and utilize financial resources and other soft skills necessary to succeed in all areas of a participant's financial life cycle.

Holy Redeemer Parish in Warren was awarded two grants. The first will help fund the creation of an outdoor seating space, including a concrete pad, a large fire pit, and furniture for seating. This area can be used for faith formation, youth groups, and other group prayer activities. The second grant awarded to Holy Redeemer will fund the purchase of Hallow app subscriptions for catechists of Warren Catholic Community Faith Formation and teachers at Saint Joseph Catholic School. When commenting on the potential impact of this resource, Jennifer Wortman, Director of Faith Formation, said, "We believe it is so important to take advantage of new and innovative resources. The Hallow App full subscription will provide spiritual nourishment to our school teachers and catechists. It will also allow for the use of new, creative, colorful, educational and prayer filled lessons to supplement our religion curriculums. It will give inspiration and ideas to leaders as they educate and ignite many generations in the faith and teachings of the Church."

RSZ Saint Michael School check
Lisa Louis (Executive Director) and Roberta Leonard (Catholic Foundation board member) present check to Emily Mahoney (Teacher), Emily Zgonc (Principal), Jackson Ribley, Kolt McAfoose, Mia Wisnyai, Erika Quinn, and Cabella Fry (students) of Saint Michael School in Greenville.

Technology upgrades continue to be an ever-present need in our parishes and Catholic schools. The Saint Marys Interparish Faith Formation program in Saint Marys received a grant to purchase a new laptop for the Confirmation Coordinator. The newer computer will have the ability to use Zoom and hook up to a larger screen, providing an improved experience for the Confirmation class of over 85 students. Saint Michael School in Greenville received a grant to purchase laptops for their teachers, as well as six document cameras. Saint Joseph Parish in Force received a grant to support the purchase of upgraded technology for their faith formation classrooms, and to provide a Formed subscription for the parish. “Technology can bring the faith to Catholics in new and exciting ways,” Fr. Mark Mastrian, pastor of Saint Joseph Parish, wrote in his grant application. “Our goal is to provide faith formation students and the parish community as a whole the resources to more fully engage with and become educated in our faith.”

Two parishes were awarded grants to provide unique spiritual opportunities to their parishioners and staff. Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Harborcreek received a $3,500 grant to support a three day parish mission, which will include presentations by Tricia O’Mahony Hoyt as well as professional and spiritual development for the parish staff. Saint Joseph Parish in Warren received a $4,000 grant to fund a concert and presentation by Fr. Ricky Manalo, a composer of liturgical music. “This is a unique opportunity for hundreds in the Warren Catholic community to deepen their love for the Catholic faith, music, and the Eucharist,” Betsy Williams, pastoral associate and advancement director, wrote in her grant application. This opportunity was partially funded by a grant from the Foundation's Michael C. McCloskey Memorial Endowment.

Two school systems received grants to purchase SMARTboards and other technology to enhance their classrooms. Venango Region Catholic School received a $10,000 grant to purchase six SMARTboards with carts and laptops for students in grades 1 through 6 at Saint Stephen Elementary School. DuBois Central Catholic School received a $12,000 grant to fund the purchase of two SMARTboards, teacher laptops, a laptop charging cart, two digital microscopes, and lab materials for science classes. “Technology is critical for the successful execution of new and existing curricula in the modern classroom,” Sandra Sherry, advancement and admissions assistant, wrote in her grant application. “A solid, faith-centered, technology-forward education sets our students up to be future leaders in a wide variety of career and life paths.”

“It’s wonderful to see these endowments funding impactful projects throughout our regional Catholic community,” says Bob Crowley, Chair of the Catholic Foundation board of directors. “As steward of these endowed funds the Catholic Foundation is carrying out the wishes of faithful Catholic donors who came before us. We celebrate them along with the good works made possible by these grants.”

Click below for a complete list of grantees:

Be the Spark to light the fire of faith in others!

The Catholic Foundation has been blessed by generous donors who give with their heart in support of the mission of the Catholic Church now and forever. Thanks to these committed Catholics, the Foundation manages over 100 funds that provide grants and distributions to parishes, schools, and Catholic ministries in northwest Pennsylvania. The 2023 Catholic Foundation competitive grants were made possible through our Education Endowment, Faith Formation Endowment, and Catholic Social Ministry Endowment, as well as the Michael C. McCloskey Memorial Endowment, Robert M. Gallivan Charitable Endowment, Bishop Donald W. Trautman 'Feed My Sheep" Endowment, and Bishop Lawrence T. Persico Endowment for Pastoral Ministry. Donations in any amount designated for these funds increase our capacity to award grants for impactful projects today and for future generations.

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