Fr. Davies Edassery, S.A.C., from St. Catherine of Siena Congregation in Ripon receives his $20,000 Power of the Wish award from The Catholic Community Foundation President Mary Ellen Markowski. (Photos by Tim Townsend)

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, The Catholic Community Foundation looked to do a little more this year.

Parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee were encouraged to “wish big” and “ask for anything,” specifically for items that fell outside the scope of their regular budgets, for one of five $20,000 “Power of the Wish” awards.

Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki and past and present Foundation board members met at the University Club on Tuesday, Dec. 7, not only to celebrate the anniversary but to present the winners.

Forty-one parishes submitted wishes, and Foundation President Mary Ellen Markowski described how a diligent award committee read the proposals “blindly,” with all identifying information of the parishes redacted.

The Catholic Community Foundation has awarded $14 million in grants since its inception and, in the last fiscal year, awarded $1.8 million in grants for programs and projects that support four priorities. Those priorities are education (for students in Catholic schools and religious programs in kindergarten through 12th grade); community building (to strengthen families, parishes and those suffering from poverty, discrimination and violence); leadership development (forming leaders for parishes, schools and agencies that help advance the Church); and health care (for the underserved in Milwaukee).

Recipients of the $20,000 “Power of the Wish” awards were:

St. Frances Cabrini, West Bend: Though over a dozen responses were submitted to Fr. Nathan Reesman, the parish ultimately put forward a request for a new outdoor play set for the Little Saints Early Learning Center. Realizing both their “call to employ these blessings to do God’s will as Mother Cabrini did in her ministry” and the need for quality early childhood care in their community, the parish converted their old convent to a site for children from ages 6 weeks to 3 years.

St. Catherine of Siena, Ripon: For several years, vandalism and property damage have been observed at the parish. With the grant funds, St. Catherine of Siena is able to take a proactive step: installing a camera system to both deter theft and assist the police and insurance companies in the event of it occurring.

St. Charles Borromeo, Milwaukee: The grant committee noted that this parish’s wish extends beyond its parishioners and into the community at large: by replacing and updating the kitchen and parish hall, the hot lunch and meal pick-up site will be expanded, helping others in need.

St. Margaret Mary Parish, Milwaukee: Replacing a condemned playground with their grant funds will enable the parish to foster community for the parish, school and local community, with the hope of attracting more children and families to the parish.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Milwaukee: With their funds, the Central City Youth Choir will be resurrected. This youth program not only fosters greater collaboration across the city but forms young people into ambassadors of faith in the greater community.

In the closing remarks, Archbishop Listecki encouraged those in attendance to “own our faith through our charitable acts,” and shared the prayer for the mission of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which says, in part: “we humbly pray for strength and fortitude to follow your great commission: to go and make disciples of all people, living our faith through word and deed.”

The Catholic Community Foundation and its work throughout the archdiocese are made possible through the generosity of donors and the thoughtful stewardship of those who manage its portfolio, namely the Foundation’s investment committee and investment consulting firm Crewcial Partners. Mike Miller, CIO of Crewcial Partners, was in attendance and spoke of the “awesome responsibility” involved. He proudly announced that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the portfolio has gone from $107 million to $162 million, a 51 percent increase from donor support and market performance. As a perpetual endowment, the Foundation seeks ongoing growth to meet ever-growing needs.

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