Raises more than $100,000 to draw a $50,000 matching grant to establish endowment for seminarian education
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Confronting a chronic priest shortage in the United States Military, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA(AMS), announced today it has raised enough money to qualify this year for a $50,000 matching grant from the national fundraising organization,Catholic Extension, to establish a seminarian endowment in support of seminarian education.
Under Catholic Extension’s 2014 “Seminarian Endowment Challenge,” the AMS had to raise a minimum of $100,000 in qualifying matching gifts before the end of the year. Qualifying donations were new or increased gifts of $1,000 or more, or money raised through a special fundraising event designated for the program.
As of today, according to AMS Chief Financial Officer William Biggs, the AMS has raised more than $122,000 in qualifying donations, and an additional $77,080, for a current total of $199,149.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, said the $50,000 match from Catholic Extension will mean the AMS can open a permanently restricted, seminarian endowment fund amounting to about a quarter of a million dollars, and that total will rise even higher if benefactors come forward with more donations before the year-end deadline. All funds must be received in cash or readily marketable securities before December 31, 2014. No pledges will be accepted.
Archbishop Broglio said:
“The co-sponsorship program is the best hope for the future of the Archdiocese. I am very grateful to everyone who has participated in this effort and to all of those who will continue to support seminarians who will one day serve our men and women in uniform and their families. The endowment offers great hope for the future financial stability of the Archdiocese and its ability to provide priests for ministry in the military.”
For the AMS, the only archdiocese responsible for endorsing priests to serve as U.S. military chaplains, the Catholic Extension matching grant for seminarian support comes at a critical time. The military has seen a steady decline in Catholic chaplains as aging priests reach its mandatory retirement age of 62 faster than they can be replaced. Today, only 227 priests remain on active duty, down from more than 400 at the time of 9/11, and many more in years prior. With more than 300,000 Catholics now on active duty, that’s just one priest for every 1,300 Catholics. While 25% of the U.S. Military is Catholic, Catholic priests make up only 8% of the chaplain corps.
When Archbishop Broglio took the helm of the AMS in 2008, he made vocations a top priority and profited from the decision of his predecessor, Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, to establish the position of full-time Vocations Director. Through the efforts of former Vocations Directors, Monsignor John R. McLaughlin, Father Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv., and Father John Kaul, and current Vocations Director Father Aidan (Arthur H.) Logan,O.C.S.O., those efforts are paying off. The AMS has seen a sharp increase over the past six years in prospective chaplains entering the “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program,” a vocations partnership between the AMS and participating local home dioceses around the country. The number of co-sponsored seminarians has increased sharply, from seven in 2007, to 32 today, and more are seeking admission.
The large increase in co-sponsored seminarians is a mixed blessing, because it places a large financial burden on the AMS. Mr. Biggs said the cost to the AMS for each seminarian in the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program is $15,000 per year for five years, or $75,000. He said the current bill for all enrolled in the program is approaching $400,000 per year–up from $90,000 per year just six years ago–and the projected expense over the next 5 years is $2.7 million. That is in addition to the AMS’s annual budget of $5.1 million. The AMS must continue to raise all that money from private sources as it receives no funding from the military or the government.
Archbishop Broglio said the $50,000 Catholic Extension grant will make a difference:
“A goal of the AMS is to create a self-sustaining foundation for seminarian formation – one that will help to supply full-time priests for home dioceses and full-time military chaplains to help reach the AMS faithful. The Catholic Extension Society is one of the AMS’s most generous supporters of both vocations and other pressing needs including the provision of Charitable Gift Annuities, and once again, I express my profound gratitude. The Seminarian Endowment Challenge provided the archdiocese another way to raise much-needed funding to bring up the next generation of Catholic military chaplains at a time when the current generation is stretched far too thin.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the Seminarian Endowment Challenge before December 31, should contact Mary Lavin, Director of Major Gifts/Development at email@example.com or (440) 223-6482. To learn more about the Catholic Gift Annuity Program through Catholic Extension, visit the Catholic Extension website at http://www.catholicextension.org.