Wanted: Patron Saint of Fundraisers



You take this stewardship stuff seriously. You share your treasure regularly with your parish and diocese, as well as a host of other worthy entities. You spend an hour every Thursday in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and you serve chicken dinners at the Summer Social. Your life revolves around Church, and it is a beautiful life.

Then one Sunday after Mass, Father sees you across the parish hall and makes his way over.
“I’m so glad to see you today! You are such a model of stewardship, and I am grateful for all you do.”

Then it happens.

“By the way, we need a new roof on the church. Would you be on the fundraising committee?”

You shrink away from the scene, aghast at just the thought of asking people for money. You’ve never even considered saying “no” to anything your Church has asked of you – until now.

Most people hate asking for money. It has an invasive feeling to it, like you’re prying into business that isn’t yours. And what if the people you ask say no? Rejection can be very personal.

But there’s another side of it.

Saint Felix Cantalice was a Capuchin brother who lived in Rome in the 16th century. His responsibility to his friary was as the questor – the one who went out into the world to ask for money and food for sustenance for both his community and the poor. He greeted everyone he met with “Deo Gratias,” and he became known throughout Rome as “Brother Deo Gratias.”

Saint Felix had no trouble asking for money, and he was just as popular with the rich as he was the poor because he helped change lives for the better for both rich and poor. While not the official patron saint of fundraisers, it sure feels like he should be.

The job of a fundraiser is to connect the resources of the people of God with the mission of the Catholic Church. People want to share, and transformational moments take place for donors far more often than they do for beneficiaries. When we show people that they can use their gifts from God in such a way as to help build His kingdom on earth, they respond so generously as to stretch the imagination beyond belief.

If we frame our fundraising request in such a way that it looks and feels like begging, or shows our reluctance to ask, we will receive tepid responses. However, if we invite people to join us in serving the Lord through their gifts, they will answer that invitation with a resounding “yes!”

There is a group of Carmelite monks in northwest Wyoming. Their community was begun in 2003 with very humble means, and today they number around 30 men. They had the outrageous idea to build a monastery on remote mountainous land near Cody, Wyoming, and they needed to raise tens of millions of dollars to do it.

They engaged people in their mission as donors, with no other promise of benefits than their prayers. They visited a wealthy Catholic woman in her home in a large east coast city and asked her to join in their quest. She was less than enthusiastic about the project, or about having the monks in her home. To get them to leave, she offered to write a check for $50,000 right there, asking “Is this enough for me to never have to see you again?”

The monks turned her down. They didn’t want a check, they said, they wanted her to help them build the kingdom of God. If she was going to give them money, she was going to be in a long-term relationship with the community. She ended up giving them several million dollars and becoming deeply involved in their efforts. Those humble monks transformed that woman by accepting her gifts.

So don’t be afraid to serve on the fundraising committee like Father asked you. Say yes, and embrace it as a chance to bring people closer to the Lord.

St. Felix Cantalice, pray for us. Deo Gratias.

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