Endowments to Support St. John’s Parish, School & Cemetery in Perpetuity.
When the Parish of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Savage, Minnesota managed to pay off a $2 million building debt a few years early, parish leadership took the opportunity to shift their gaze to the future and lay the groundwork for coming generations.
They went to work and established three endowments at the Catholic Community Foundation designed to support St. John’s parish, school, and cemetery in perpetuity.
“We’re a very middle income church,” explained Joe Nardi, Chair of the Finance Council and a banker by profession. “We don’t have the ability to easily generate a million dollars at the drop of a hat. Our current financial position comes from many, many years of people being supportive of the church but in small donations.”
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church was chartered in 1854, making it one of the oldest parishes in the Archdiocese. “The parish started with 10 Irish families and now we have 2,200 households,” said Fr. Michael Tix, pastor since 2004. “The school is over 50 years old and is a great source of pride for the community.”
Taking the First Steps
The idea for an endowment had been discussed for the last few years, but after retiring the debt, the council took the first step by inviting representatives from the Catholic Community Foundation to a meeting to explain the process and answer questions.
Parish council member Cathy Guckeen described it as a real learning experience. “I wasn’t familiar with endowment funds and what you can do. I just hadn’t thought about it. But it really opened my eyes to the possibilities.”
“The easy part was getting it set up,” added Nardi. “What was more difficult was deciding what the funds should be used for.”
In the end, the council decided to establish endowments that would cover the essential parish ministries. “The school is a huge part of our mission, so we created a fund that would help keep tuition low,” explained Nardi. “The purpose for the parish fund is a little bit more general by design because we didn’t want to box people in, but the intent is to provide funds for special situations, whatever that may be. And the third fund will provide perpetual care for the cemetery.”
Trustee Craig Schoenecker believes the three endowments provide an important opportunity for parishioners who want to include the parish in their estate plans. “Many parishioners are looking to provide more substantial gifts,” said Schoenecker. “This offers a way for them to contribute to the long-term support of the parish, and choose which ministries to support.”
Looking Beyond Next Year
Nardi says the council has worked hard over the years to make sure the parish is in good financial shape, but he keeps it in perspective. “The purpose of our parish is about the mission of Jesus, not money,” he points out. “Yet we need money to fulfill that mission.” The endowments help us look beyond next year’s budget and guarantee future generations at this parish.”
Guckeen agrees, “Our society is all caught up in the here and now. Unless you make people aware of the possibilities, they don’t necessarily think about what’s ahead.”
“I keep thinking of the 10 original Irish families back in 1854,” said Fr. Michael. “When you look at how much we’ve grown, could they ever in their wildest imaginations have predicted what would come from their efforts? Probably not, but those families set the cornerstone that’s been built upon generation after generation for the glory of God.”
Nardi sums up a shared belief. “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but these endowments will support a strong foundation to continue the mission of our church.”