From September 12-14, members of the General Finance Commission, along with several SCJ fundraisers from around the congregation, met at the Provincial Conference Center in Hales Corners (USA). Organized by the General Treasurer’s Office and hosted by the US Province, it was a time for participants to better learn about what is already being done in the congregation in regard to fundraising, and to look toward the future: how can the congregation best meet the financial needs of the Priests of the Sacred Heart and its ministries?
The last General Chapter included discussions about fundraising and the need for it to be further developed at the general level. “Then the COVID stopped everything,” said Fr. Luca Zottoli, SCJ, general treasurer. “That’s why we are so ‘late’ in gathering to discuss this topic.” One of the tasks of the meeting was to develop “possible and doable” proposals regarding fundraising to bring forth to the next General Chapter, added Fr. Luca.
Dehonians serve people in some of the most challenging areas of the world, but prayers and goodwill alone cannot feed, educate, shelter, or provide other vital services to those in need.
Fundraising, emphasized meeting participants, is not simply about accumulating money. It is a vital component of ministry itself.
The conference began with a presentation by Dr. Jeremy Blackwood on Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical “Fratelli Tutti.” Dr. Blackwood is associate professor of Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. The encyclical calls for a greater sense of human fraternity and solidarity in which all countries and all people feel that they are a part of one human family.
It is in this spirit, this sense of solidarity, that financial discussions in the congregation have been based. It is found in the words of General Chapter presentations, and in the letters of the general administration.
“We recognize that fundraising is very diversified in the congregation,” said Fr. Luca Zottoli, SCJ, general treasurer (pictured at the top of the page listening to Fr. Piotr Chmielecki of Poland. Differences depend on history, social contexts and the legal parameters of the countries in which Dehonians serve. However, amidst these varied needs the general administration has an important role in facilitating communication between and about the financial needs of the entire congregation.
One of the last tasks of the fundraisers’ meeting was to draft a letter to the general administration with suggestions for enhancing that communication, as well as the mechanics of fundraising itself.
Besides Fr. Luca, participants in the Hales Corners’ meeting included Aldo Ivaldi (assistant to the general treasurer), Fr. Gerd Hemken, SCJ (Germany), Fr. Vincent Dinh, SCJ (Vietnam), Fr. Piotr Chmielecki, SCJ (Poland), Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ (Philippines), Fr. Jesús Valdezate, SCJ (Spain) and Dn. David Nagel, SCJ (treasurer of the US Province). Representatives from the Province Development Office and St. Joseph’s Indian School were also present for part of the meeting.
“As Fr. Luca said during our gathering, communication is vital when it comes to finances and fundraising,” said Dn. David. “It is good to work together to not only look at ways to better support our ministries around the world, but to also continue to work in a spirit of collaboration and transparency in use of our resources in service to the Church.”