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Now that I have your attention, the question is what have you done to prepare for both. I recently led a Life Planning Seminar at one of our parishes in Pinellas County and in doing so, I asked the group, "How many of you have a Will?" With an average age of 68 and good churchgoing people, I thought for sure that this group would beat the average of 60% having a Will already. In reality, though, only 25% of the attendees raised their hands.
The SMARTS Ministry group of St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in New Tampa established a new endowment with the Catholic Foundation. SMARTS (St. Mark’s Active Retired Trend Setters) originally started building this fund for a bus when the parish was fairly new to provide transportation for the elderly to get to the parish for Sunday mass. Initially, it was a great idea, but as the parish continued to grow, they quickly needed a larger bus for the number of parishioners. Within the SMARTS organization alone, they have grown from a handful of parishioners to more than 150 today. With the cost of purchasing the bus growing exponentially, along with the maintenance and upkeep, the leadership of the SMARTS Ministry needed to refocus their efforts.
After consulting with Father DeJulio and the leadership of the parish, they agreed to create an endowment with the Catholic Foundation for two purposes: to help transport home bound parishioners that may not have the means available to them to attend Sunday Mass and to help parish youth attend the National Catholic Youth Conference.
The Catholic Foundation Celebration, A Gift From the Heart 2014, our annual fundraiser in support of the Foundation's tuition assistance program, was a success beyond expectations. This year we had over five hundred people join us as we celebrated Catholic education. Because of our many generous friends who have a heart for Catholic education, we were able to raise more than $375,000 which will be used to help our schools recruit and retain other students throughout the Diocese.
The Knights of Columbus Mother Seton Council 6724 in Brandon, FL gave a $35,000 Christmas gift to Nativity Catholic School through the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of St. Petersburg to establish an endowment that will provide tuition assistance to families at Nativity Catholic Church who are in financial crisis.
Most Reverend Robert Lynch, along with the Catholic Foundation, is pleased to announce this year's Catholic Educational Leadership Award Recipient, Mr. Joseph Capitano, Sr.