Since its inception in 1875, St. Vincent Family Services (SVFS) has been committed to supporting the well-being, safety, and social-emotional health needs of children ages 0-17 through a comprehensive full-service range of behavioral health programs. The demand for critical behavioral health care services continues to grow, especially for families living with the impact of poverty and trauma, not including the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having the facility and resources to provide quality, equitable treatment to their most vulnerable client population – children ages 5-12 – living onsite in child welfare custody and receiving acute behavioral health services was a top priority. From a workforce perspective, having a safe, functional space enhances morale, efficiency, and wellness for those who provide year-round, 24/7 care.
St. Vincent Family Services started a much-needed renovation to their Residential Treatment Center through the support of a multi-year responsive grant from The Catholic Foundation. The facility, which hasn’t been updated since the 1990s, will provide a magnitude of improved space and safety features that include updated medical spaces, classrooms, and family engagement rooms; increased safety features in bedrooms, classrooms, and corridor spaces; and employee break spaces and renovated administrative space. Sara Russell, Director of Community Engagement & Marketing, says the updated Residential Treatment Center will help SVFS continue to deliver quality care to the multitude of children and families who rely on therapy, education, and case management. “This vital renovation will improve equity of care across our programs, enhance our ability to care for the comprehensive needs of youth and their families, and support the well-being and retention of our hardworking essential workforce.”
A playground is symbolic of children in all their glory laughing, yelling for a buddy to pass the ball or dancing around making up songs to sing. Friendships are made and pent-up energy is released. Notre Dame Elementary in Portsmouth doesn’t have the luxury of a gym, so their playground is the landing spot for recess and gym classes. The school recently raised funds to renovate this high traffic area but also needed a sun shade to provide some relief from the sun.
“Enrollment is increasing, and it’s important that we maintain our facility so we can keep our school safe and continue to attract new families,” says Matt Mader, Development Director for Notre Dame Schools. Through a responsive grant, The Catholic Foundation was able to help Notre Dame elementary purchase the sun shade for its cherished playground. The grant also provided enough resources to complete further maintenance items at the school. Reconstruction to an existing fence that was damaged due to high winds once again provides privacy and protection from the outside public and residential area. Repairs to a crushed drainpipe that was causing flooding in the cafeteria after a heavy rainfall were also completed.
A couple miles down the road, Notre Dame High School was experiencing some overdue maintenance projects. All the bathrooms were original to 1952, the year the school was built, and were on the verge of a much-needed renovation. Toilets, sink fixtures, surrounding privacy stalls and plumbing need to be updated. A responsive grant helped the high school update two of the four bathrooms. Funds were also used to repair the parking lot and remove trees around the property. When speaking about the enhancements, Mr. Mader notes, “these necessary improvements enable Notre Dame High School to prosper as a Catholic faith-based school that provides our community with the best education and facilities.”
Christ the King Church in Columbus is home to a diverse, engaged group of over 1,500 believers. In addition to encountering Christ through the Mass, parishioners have many ways to get involved and grow in faith and fellowship. The property is also home to several consecrated religious, who devote their lives to serving this faithful community.
Safety is at the forefront of any organization. It’s especially important when unwanted activity takes place on your property. Over the past couple of years, Christ the King’s priests and consecrated religious were victims to a handful of criminal activity. It became crucial to enhance security measures to safeguard their care as well as provide a secure environment for anyone who visited the church.
A responsive grant from The Catholic Foundation helped to fund upgraded windows, a touchscreen security system that allows the priests and staff to monitor activity from multiple entrances, and the installation of panic buttons across the property. Former pastor Fr. David Schalk said, “The men who sacrifice day-in and day-out to serve the pastoral needs of the community should feel safe and secure in their own home. I am confident that with these upgrades our priests will flourish and that they will continue to be fruitful and build God’s kingdom.”
St. Francis de Sales in Newark is taking big steps to return to its true roots as an authentically Catholic school by adopting the Classical Education Curriculum. This program ensures that students’ Catholic identity is not simply added on, but woven through a school’s culture, curriculum, content, and instruction. Implementation of this new curriculum started in 2021-22 school year and is projected to take three years to fulling integrate throughout St. Francis de Sales. “Putting Christ at the center of all learning is the objective but the underlining benefit is our children are learning from an understanding that faith and reason are entwined,” says Edward Watson, Vice Principal of St. Francis de Sales Elementary School.
Since the implementation of the Classical Education Curriculum, there has been an awakening to the Catholic faith and a sense of closeness to the fellowship of the Church. This has led to more students becoming altar servers, singing in the choir, and developing a deeper love for the sacraments and Eucharist. St. Francis de Sales is also seeing an increase in engagement among families. Some students’ desire for a deeper faith is actively bringing parents back to church or into the Church. In the past, 10-15 students were present at Sunday mass. Now, the numbers are closer to 50-60 at the 11:00 am mass alone. “The ripple effect that is taking place from school to home is truly a thing of beauty,” notes Mr. Watson.
Enrollment is up at St. Francis de Sales and there is a genuine excitement around the transition to a Classical Education Curriculum that is transcending the classroom. Most importantly, there is peace of mind knowing all learning stems from our Catholic faith.
A responsive grant from The Catholic Foundation helped fund the pilot years of the Classical Educational Curriculum at St. Francis de Sales.
St. Patrick Church is situated in downtown Columbus surrounded by warehouses and a secular community college. It has no neighborhood or school that would naturally connect the faithful to its pews. Instead, the 1,000 families that make up St. Patrick go out of their way to be a part of this vibrant community rooted in the efforts of the Dominican friars who feel a strong sense to carry forth the tradition of Catholic education and worship. One way the friars bring Catholics closer to Christ is by fostering vocations through their youth faith formation programs.
About nine years ago, a group of St. Patrick parishioners got together to understand how they could keep momentum going with the parish’s youth ministry programs. John Schlater was involved with these initial discussions. He and his wife, Deb, have been involved with St. Patrick’s for over 20 years. “There is a genuine vigor from the Dominican friars when it comes to working with our young people. We needed to find a way to ensure that resources would be available to sustain current and future youth ministries,” said Mr. Schlater. What came about from these gatherings was the creation of The St. Patrick Parish Vocations-Youth Endowment Fund.
The Fund helps support a variety of programs, including youth ministry programs, weekly catechesis (CCD) and sacramental preparation, campus outreach to Catholic students at Columbus State Community College and Columbus College of Art and Design, and St. Patrick’s altar server program. Currently, there are over 100 active members in youth ministry programs and over 250 children participating in CCD.
In addition, over the last 15 years, more than 20 young men and women have entered formation for the priesthood and religious life from St. Patrick. “If there are resources to support youth ministry programs, there should be a logical transgression to religious life for young Catholics,” notes Mr. Schlater. He also credits the Dominican friars and their efforts to educate and inspire the youth. “The children see them living with a sense of purpose and the happiness that stems from the Dominican way of life.”
The importance of a proper burial is stressed throughout the Gospel. Showing compassion for others and treating everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve is at the heart of the corporate works of mercy, and our deceased loved ones are no different. “Our cemeteries represent the tradition that accompanies burying the dead and their perpetual care until Christ returns,” says Deacon Jeffrey Fortkamp, Director of Catholic Cemeteries of Columbus.
The Catholic Cemeteries serves around 1,000 families each year by helping the faithful accept death in the context of our Catholic faith and provide a dignified burial and eternal resting spot. Mt. Calvary, St. Joseph, Resurrection, and Holy Cross’ daily operations, including the maintenance of the scenic grounds, are covered by an existing fund. Deacon Jeffrey wants to ensure these properties are protected from any unexpected, extraordinary expenses, which is the purpose of The St. Callistus Catholic Cemeteries of Columbus Perpetual Care Endowment Fund that was recently established at The Catholic Foundation.
The St. Callistus Fund will help with costs that, for example, are incurred outside of warranty work on fixing broken equipment, road repairs due to excess weather damage, and deteriorated buildings that result from age and harsh weather. “Knowing an unforeseen expense will be covered under The St. Callistus Fund gives me and my team the peace of mind to focus on what we do best which is ministering to the faithful in their time of need and grief,” says Deacon Jeffery.