The Catholic Community Foundation (CCF) has a question for the 200 parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

“If you had a wish, and we could fulfill it with $15,000, what would it be?” said Ann M. Rieger, a CCF board member.

The best five answers, as judged by a committee of CCF board members, are worth ccfoundation$15,000 each to the parishes whose wishes are granted.

“We don’t want this to be a burden. We want this to be a fun contest,” said Mary Ellen Markowski, president of the CCF. “We want to build awareness (of CCF) but we also want the parish communities to have fun with this.”

Markowski said the contest came out of a CCF board of directors’ executive committee meeting.

“We want to reach the people in the pews. How do we do that?” she said of the discussion that led to the “Grant a Wish!” contest.

CCF is sponsoring the contest in celebration of its 15th anniversary and to create awareness of its work.

Founded in 2001, the foundation has allocated 1,063 grants totaling $7.1 million. The dollar amount of grants varies, but the maximum is $20,000.

With $84 million in assets, the not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization provides investment management services for parishes, schools and Catholic organizations. It also works with individuals and families that wish to provide perpetual support for Catholic causes.

“We just want people to know about us. We can help the parishes, too,” Markowski said. “If you’re not talking about ways to keep funding coming to you, you better know there are other organizations out there talking to your parishioners and trying to get them to leave those funds to them.”

In exchange for making parishioners aware of the CCF and its work, parishes have the opportunity to fund projects on their wish lists.

According to Rieger, an attorney and member of St. Dominic, Brookfield, the awareness building “is an important part of the program.”

“We’re providing an incentive for parishes to spread the word about The Catholic Community Foundation,” she said.

Fr. Daniel Janasik, a CCF board member and pastor of St. Leonard, Muskego, added, “What better way to spread the word about The Catholic Community Foundation?”

Noting the demands pastors face when it comes to money, Fr. Janasik said this is an opportunity for parishes to “dream big.”

“Be creative and imaginative with this,” he said. “It’s not just the pastor doing this; it’s the parish doing this.”

Among the bulletin insert options available to parishes for promoting the contest is one that includes a form for submitting an idea to the pastor or parish director.

“When we were talking with the person who was helping us, I said, ‘What if we put something in the bulletin where they can cut it out and send in their wish list to the pastor?’” Markowski said about the form. “We really want the parish communities to be engaged with us.”

That engagement includes the youngest members of the parish, too.

“We’re timing this now so that the kids, through the schools, will have the opportunity to be able to give some ideas to the pastor,” she said, noting the timing of the invitation.

Contest information was mailed to pastors this past Monday.

Noting the maximum number of entries vying for the five awards is 200, Fr. Janasik laughingly said, “The odds are slightly better than winning the Powerball.”

Fun, simple road to $15,000

Emphasizing fun and simplicity for parishes to participate in the “Grant a Wish!” contest, The Catholic Community Foundation (CCF) has limited it to five rules:

  • A short description, provided by the CCF, is to be read at all parish Masses on one weekend in May or June, informing the congregation about the CCF, the contest and how parishioners can be involved by submitting ideas to their pastor or parish director.
  • A CCF-provided insert informing parishioners about the contest must be included in all bulletins on a particular weekend.
  • Pastor or parish director is responsible for submitting the parish’s idea in writing to the foundation before Monday, Aug 1, 2016. The CCF will consider only one request per parish.
  • Idea should not be part of parish’s operating budget or a current program. It has to be a “wish list” idea.

Requests will be reviewed by a committee of the foundation’s board members who will decide the recipients of the five awards. Awards will be announced Thursday, Dec. 1.
Further information available by calling Julie at (414) 431-6402 or at