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  • Writer's pictureFather Lance W. Harlow

Giving to charity can make you a saint!

This book is a great resource for Catholic fundraisers!

One of the goals of the St. Nicholas Project is to connect the Catholic community in Vermont with the Kurn Hattin Homes for Children with financial and material donations. Catholic fundraising is a ministry in itself--it is a vocation, a calling from God to help build up the Kingdom of God. For most of us involved with religious work--priests included--thinking about and talking about money seems somehow too "worldly" in light of our spiritual goals for the salvation of souls. But we live in the world and need the things of the world in order to accomplish our mission. Despite very well-known saints with heroic vows of poverty, most of us need to pay the bills on our churches, schools, hospitals, and other charitable institutions in order to keep them open. But, if we think that asking for donations is somehow "dirty" or beneath us, then we are not seeing fundraising from the perspective of being an occasion of grace for the donor. We are seeing it from the limited perspective of getting something out of somebody. In other words, by inviting people to be charitable by making donations--which is a work of mercy and an occasion of grace for them--they grow in holiness! The donor's growth in holiness should be our motivation. Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen, in his book entitled, A Spirituality of Fundraising, states that: "In fundraising as ministry, we are inviting people into a new way of relating to their resources. By giving people a spiritual vision, we want them to experience that they will in fact benefit by making their resources available to us. We truly believe that if their gift is good only for us who receive it, it is not fundraising in the spiritual sense. Fundraising from the point of view of the Gospel says to people: "I will take your money and invest it in this vision only if it is good for your spiritual journey, only if it is good for your spiritual health." In other words, we are calling them to an experience of conversion: "You won't become poorer, you will become richer by giving." We can confidently declare with the Apostle Paul: "You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity" (2 Corinthians 9:11).

Because Catholic fundraising is a ministry, it requires a lot of prayer in order to bear good fruit. We should never underestimate praying before we approach somebody to ask him or her to contribute to our charity. And if we are particularly nervous about making "the ask," God will give us the grace to do so through our time spent in prayer with Him. Ultimately, if our aim is to build up the Kingdom of God through our Catholic fundraising, and if that is God's will for us, too; then, we can't go wrong by praying, trusting and asking the donor to share our vision.

I would love for you to join me in my vision for the St. Nicholas Project: that is, engaging Catholics to support the Kurn Hattin Homes for Children. Some of those Catholic donors might just become saints one day. And maybe that saint is you!

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