By: Melissa Streit
“Minnesota nice” isn’t just a saying — it’s a way of life here, with a large percentage of Minnesotans sharing their time and treasure with a variety of charitable organizations. Our vibrant local Catholic community is particularly generous and the Catholic Community Foundation is celebrating 25 years of faithfully investing in the Minnesota community.
“Donors give through us, not to us,” explains Foundation president Anne Cullen Miller, “and Catholic values are infused in all we do.” She views her work as a ministry of the Church, teaching donors about the joy of philanthropy, and helping to unlock our human desire to give back.
The Foundation’s work is rooted in relationship — learning about each donor and understanding their philanthropic goals. “Some donors know very specifically what they want to do,” Miller shares. “Others don’t know as much yet and are open to recommendations and suggestions on how to achieve their faith-based goals, whether it is in education, social service, or other areas.” As a public charity, they earn and sustain the trust of donor partners and stakeholder organizations through intentional care, support, and transparency.
Miller is proud that the Catholic Community Foundation is the largest and only self-sustaining foundation of its kind in the country. Separate from the Archdiocese, the Catholic Community Foundation skillfully manages investments for Catholic organizations as well as individual donors via donor advised funds, endowment funds, charitable trusts, charitable annuities, and more. They are also the sixth-largest public grantmaker in Minnesota, administering $14 million in grants last year to support organizations whose missions and ministries align with Catholic values.
Despite being born and raised in Saint Paul, Miller feels a particular kinship to The Basilica. Her relative, Rev. Thomas Cullen, became rector of Immaculate Conception parish in Minneapolis only a year after his ordination. He served that parish, which eventually became The Basilica of Saint Mary, from 1902-1921. As pastor, Fr. Cullen worked with Archbishop John Ireland on initial plans for the current Basilica church.
“I really admire what is happening at The Basilica,” Miller enthuses. “The membership growth and engagement, especially with young people, is exciting.” She demonstrated this enthusiasm by designating funds from her board-designated President’s Fund at the Catholic Community Foundation to underwrite expenses for Basilica staff to participate in Parish Catalyst. Based in Los Angeles, Parish Catalyst builds vibrant Catholic parishes and develops platforms for parish excellence. Our staff attendees participated in a cohort for engaging millennials in the Church.
To mark their 25th anniversary, Miller and the Catholic Community Foundation are hosting a special dinner called Come to the Table on April 26 to celebrate the impact made possible by collective generosity and to inspire future faith-aligned philanthropy throughout Minnesota.
Reflecting on her vocation at the Catholic Community Foundation, Miller is inspired by how Catholics continually move forward, undeterred, to pass along the blessings they received due to their deep personal faith and connection to God. “I hear it from donors from all walks of life and in different forms,” she says smiling. “We can move the dial farther when we do it together.”
Melissa Streit has been an active volunteer and member of the Basilica parish since 1996.