I was Baptized in a United Church of Christ congregation in Park Ridge, Illinois where my parents both grew up. I was raised in a Lutheran Church in Mount Prospect, Illinois where I took my first communion and got confirmed. In recent years, my religion has faded and it seems as if none of my religious training stuck. (Note to self: I wonder if I can get a refund? I should check into that.) However, in recent weeks I’ve been bombarded by all things Catholic thanks in large part to our news media who is stuck in overdrive. All of this coverage compels me to write a little something about our Catholic brothers and sisters, who work by our sides in the non-profit trenches.
Pope Francis: A sight for sore eyes
This Pope’s namesake is Francis of Assisi, who is one of the better known saints. He is the patron saint of animals and the environment, and is synonymous with the concepts of poverty and humility. In taking the name “Francis,” it is widely believed the Pope is sending a message to the world. Many have speculated this message is that one of the church’s major initiatives will be its focus on social justice and its work with the poor.
As someone who has spent almost his entire life in the non-profit sector working in the social services/human services sub-sector, this is welcome news.
You don’t need to be a Catholic to appreciate this development. I am excited about the future and can’t wait to see where this all leads. I hope you are, too.
As I confessed in the opening paragraph of this post, my Baptismal water didn’t take and the church that I now attend on Sunday morning is Meet The Press on NBC. David Gregory is my pastor (which is kinda funny since he is Jewish). Go figure!
This last Sunday one of the roundtable participants was former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, who is a Catholic and served on one of the church’s child abuse task forces. During my hour-long mass, I heard Keating saying something that really caught my attention:
“In the United States, 50 percent of social services are provided by the Catholic church.”
This declaration stuck with me for days until I couldn’t resist Googling around in my free time in an effort to fact check this statement. I guess I wasn’t the only person who was bothered by this statement because PolitiFact has already done the research and posted an article titled “Does the Catholic Church provide half of social services in the U.S.”
If you have a minute or two to spare in your busy schedule today, I strongly recommend that you read the PolitiFact post. It is super interesting and a quick read. It drives home the point that we all need to beware of false prophets. Damn politicians . . . you can’t believe a word of what comes out of their mouths! LOL
Here is the long and the short of what PolitiFact found out:
“So by our estimate, Catholic-affiliated charity amounts to 17 percent of the funds spent by nonprofits on social services — well short of the 50 percent Keating cited. Even doubling this share to create a generous margin of error brings it to 34 percent — still well short of half. But even this may overestimate the footprint of Catholic-supported charities, since it doesn’t include social-service expenditures by the government. In his comment, Keating didn’t specify that he was only talking about social services funded by private groups.”
Truth be told . . . I knew that Catholic-affiliated charities did a lot of work, but I never understood how much work it does. I am still impressed with 17 percent! I think you should be, too.
One of the core tenets of the Catholic faith is that “good works are done to glorify God and are done in honor of him.”
There is a lot of confusion around this concept and what it means to Catholics. I found a really good blog post that explains it really well. Click here if you want to learn more.
As a non-profit professional, I really appreciate the fact that there is a network of 1.2 billion people who dedicate their lives to doing good things for other people.
With the media in overdrive about all things Catholic, I encourage all non-profit professionals to take a moment out of their busy day to appreciate the good works of the church and its members. When you’re in the car commuting, simply ask yourself the following questions:
- I wonder how many of our board members and volunteers are Catholic?
- I wonder how many of our donors are Catholic?
- I wonder how many of our clients have been impacted by other Catholic-affiliated charities?
After scratching your head and contemplating these questions, simply end your thought with a simple “Thank goodness for good works!”
Did the “Festival of All Things Catholic” by our news media inspire other non-profit related thoughts for you? If so, please share those thoughts in the comment box below.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC