Catholic Foundation of Michigan awards $120K in grants during a challenging 2020

Volunteers from the Archdiocese of Detroit and Sacred Heart Major Seminary clean out an abandoned garage in Detroit during a Life Remodeled pickup in 2017. On Dec. 1, Life Remodeled was one of 33 organizations to receive a grant from the Catholic Foundation of Michigan. (Detroit Catholic file photos)

Catholic parishes, schools and nonprofits benefit from boost to myriad projects helping build community and lifting less fortunate

DETROIT Three years in, and the Catholic Foundation of Michigan shows no signs of slowing down, even in the midst of a global pandemic. 

During a Dec. 1 virtual award ceremony — fitting for 2020 — the Catholic Foundation awarded $120,750 in grants to 33 Catholic organizations in southeast Michigan. 

“These grants are not about the money; it’s about the relationships,” Angela Moloney, president and CEO of the Catholic Foundation, told donors and recipients during the virtual ceremony. “We want to learn about them, educate them and help tell their stories. Today is about telling their stories — from diapers to food, to Catholic schools and vibrant parishes reaching out in evangelization and helping out with the challenges of being a new mom. Look around — from Gaylord to Monroe, from Jackson to Marine City, these grants will go toward making our community stronger. 

Detroit-based Catholic evangelist Richard Lane hosted the online ceremony, in which donors were encouraged to give on the aptly timed “Giving Tuesday.” 

Groups that earned a grant had the opportunity to share a video to explain their organization and thank donors. Others shared their stories in Zoom breakout rooms and answered questions.

St. Clare of Montefalco Parish in Grosse Pointe Park received a $10,000 Spirit of Innovation Grant for its “Unity in Diversity” program, a two-fold program that strives to boost the enrollment of minority students who live in the city of Detroit at St. Clare of Montefalco School, along with outreach efforts to bring together Grosse Pointe and Detroit communities to promote understanding and solidarity. 

Lane hosted St. Clare of Montefalco pastor Fr. Andrew Kowalczyk, CSMA, and school principal Ann Crowley on his podcast, “In Your Lane,” to discuss the impact of the Catholic Foundation’s grant on the Grosse Pointe Park community, which also received a St. Anne Scholarship grant from the Catholic Foundation in the spring to support Catholic education for 12 students. 

Students at St. Clare of Montefalco School in Grosse Pointe Park work on laptops during class. The school received a “Spirit of Innovation Grant” from the Catholic Foundation of Michigan to increase enrollment of minority students.

The grants will help the parish with its outreach to the neighboring East English Village and Morningside communities in Detroit, as well as the urban Catholic parishes on Detroit’s east side, Fr. Kowalczyk said. 

“We are blessed here at St. Clare of Montefalco School with a diverse group of students,” Fr. Kowalczyk said. “As a parish, we’re at the border of Grosse Pointe and Detroit; part of this parish is in Detroit, part of it is in Grosse Pointe. When I came to this parish, I said, ‘Mack Avenue isn’t what divides us; it’s what brings us together.’ For the last eight years, we’ve embarked on numerous occasions to bring celebrations and meetings to the parish hall, reaching outside the church walls to bring our parish’s joys to the community. And this grant will help us continue those efforts.” 

On the other side of Detroit, Life Remodeled received a $5,000 grant for its Durfee Innovation Society, a community hub housed at the former Durfee Elementary and Middle School building, which will “provide a dynamic environment for non-profit organizations and for-profit companies to share resources and collectively impact the community.” 

“We are super grateful to the Catholic Foundation of Michigan for its commitment to support organizations like ours,” said Chris Lambert, founder and CEO of Life Remodeled, who recorded a video to Catholic Foundation of Michigan donors. “Our organization is passionate about exemplifying the work of Jesus through our mission and values. As a follower of Jesus and a former pastor, I founded Life Remodeled 10 years ago based on four patterns of the life of Christ.” 

Over the past four years, Life Remodeled has organized a four-square-mile cleanup project in the area of the city surrounding the Durfee Innovation Center — and nearby Sacred Heart Major Seminary — as part of its greater effort to transform Detroit one block, and one job, at time.  

Msgr. Todd Lajiness, rector and president of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, mows a lot during a Life Remodeled cleanup in 2017. Life Remodeled received a $5,000 grant for its Durfee Innovation Society. 

“Thirty-five of our region’s best and brightest organizations have joined us as tenants in our vision of creating a hub of opportunity for all Detroiters,” Lambert said. “We’ve renovated this 143,000-square-foot former Detroit Public School building where now thousands of children, youth and adults are served every year. 

Through the center, students participate in tutoring and after-school programs, and families have access to resources such as diapers, formula, senior services and job training, Lambert said. 

At the end of the presentation, Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron addressed the donors and grant recipients, reflecting on Fr. Gabriel Richard’s motto for the city, “We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.”

I think what we’re doing is in that tradition, building a hope,” the archbishop said, “hope not built on naïve optimism, but hope built on God’s grace and the victory of Jesus. Many of us can think of what we don’t have, or what needs to be done. But we have Jesus, and with Jesus, we have more than enough.” 

2020 Catholic Foundation of Michigan grant recipients  

Empowering Social Outreach 

  • Camp Sancta Maria, High Ropes Adventure Course Zip Line — $2,500 
  • Carinal Mooney Catholic High School, Cardinal Mooney Outreach — $1,500 
  • Christ the King Service Corps, Essential Young Adults — $5,000 
  • Felician Children’s Center, Supporting Families during COVID-19 — $2,500 
  • Gianna House, TPHP — $5,000 
  • Guest House Inc., Return to Work for Recovering Priests — $5,000
  • International Samaritan, Service Immersion Scholarship Program — $2,500 
  • Ladies of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul Oakland County, LOC Warehouse — $5,000 
  • Life Remodeled, Durfee Innovation Society Operations — $5,000
  • Livingston County Catholic Charities, Christmas Blessing Project — $3,000 
  • Mary’s Mantle, Remote Programming — $2,000 
  • Pope Francis Center, Nutrition Program — $5,000 
  • Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, Capuchin Soup Kitchen — $5,000 
  • Racquet Up Detroit, Academic Recovery & Support Program — $2,500 
  • Selah’s Center of Hope, Hope House — $2,500 
  • Siena Literacy Center, Technical Update — $3,000 
  • St. Clare of Montefalco, Unity in Diversity — $10,000 
  • St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, Leaders in Motion/Leaders on Mission — $5,000 
  • Holy Trinity Parish, “Women’s Circle of Support” – Strangers No Longer —  $5,000 
  • The Lennon Center, Maternal Help — $5,000 
  • The Servants of Jesus of The Divine Mercy, Women of Jesus’ Merciful Passion Formation & Development — $2,500 
  • Trinity Vicariate – Detroit, Men for Others — $5,000

Building Vibrant Parish Life 

  • Most Holy Redeemer Parish, “Del Dolor a la Gracia” Ministry  — $5,000 
  • St. Aloysius Church, Parish Engagement and Outreach — $2,500 
  • St. Augustine/St. Monica Church, St. Augustine/St. Monica Distanced Evangelization — $5,000 
  • St. Gabriel Parish, Flor y Canto Project — $5,000 
  • St. Lucy Church, Fanning the Flame — $500 

Fostering Catholic Education and Formation  

  • Cathedral Choir Academy of Detroit, Cathedral Choir Academy of Detroit — $5,000 
  • Catholic Youth Organization, CYO Missionary Discipleship Experience — $2,500 
  • Detroit Cristo Rey High School, Work Study Program — $2,500 
  • Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Building Great Souled Persons — $2,500 
  • La Casa Guadalupana, La Casa Guadalupana — $2,500 
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish School, Building Disciples at OLGC Parish School — $1,000