by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The theme of the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas’ Deo Gratias annual meeting and awards dinner on Nov. 11 was: “That your joy may be full,” taken from the Gospel of John (15:11).
But the theme could have just as easily been taken from another Gospel.
“I have discovered one thing,” said Bill Maloney, the foundation’s executive director during his opening remarks. “The Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas may be the best-kept secret in the archdiocese. So, I think it’s time to remove the bushel basket and let the light of the foundation shine.”
Of course, Maloney was paraphrasing Jesus’ parable of the lamp, from the Gospel of Matthew (5:14).
It was a night to let shine the success of CFNEK, and both the accomplishments and generosity of one distinguished Catholic organization — Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas — and one distinguished Catholic family — Pat and Mel McAnany of St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee.
Both Donnelly and the McAnanys received the flame-shaped, glass Deo Gratias award at the event, held in the Keleher Conference Center at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas. The award recognizes outstanding achievement, service and support of Catholic institutions that are CFNEK fund holders, as well as Catholic Legacy Society members.
CFNEK, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, provides distributions and grants to parishes, schools and institutions through the formation of endowments, donor advised funds, charitable gift annuities and membership in Catholic legacy societies.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann presented the Deo Gratias awards on behalf of CFNEK.
He started off by expressing how proud he was of Donnelly College.
“One of the most inspiring days of the year for me is the Donnelly College graduation,” said Archbishop Naumann. “If you hear the speakers at those graduation ceremonies, it’s always really edifying. I think around 80 percent of our students are first- generation college graduates. To hear some of the challenges that they’ve overcome is really remarkable.
“And always entwined in their talks is the great gift of the faith and how that’s made a difference in their lives. I call the new [campus] building on 18th Street the ‘Miracle on 18th Street.’”
Msgr. Stuart Swetland, president of Donnelly, accepted the award on behalf of the college. In his remarks, he highlighted the affordability and diversity of the college. Although founded in 1949 to serve the ethnic Catholic population of the urban core, it has now become a minority-serving institution and the most diverse college in the Midwest.
“We’re the most diverse college because we’re serving a population that might not otherwise be served, and Catholic colleges should do that,” he said. “The average price to go to a Catholic college right now in the United States is $31,000 a year. Donnelly College charges $8,500 a year, and many of our students we help . . . even with that amount. Only 11 percent of our students [graduate] with any debt at all.”
In presenting the Deo Gratias award to Pat and Mel McAnany, Archbishop Naumann held them up as examples of stewardship.
“That’s really what stewardship is about,” said Archbishop Naumann. “It’s trying to discern how the Lord is using the blessings that he’s given us.”
After accepting the award, Pat McAnany said that he and Mel have had a donor-advised fund for several years.
“I love the fact Mel and I can easily give money to various Catholic causes in the archdiocese and throughout the world,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing to do, to start a donor-advised fund, so I highly recommend it. We need to grow this foundation.
“We feel so blessed. You give a little bit, and you get so much back. It’s priceless.”
In his report on the state of CFNEK, Maloney said that during the last fiscal year, the foundation grew to 222 funds under management totaling $124 million in assets. He also noted that the Catholic Legacy Society continues to grow. It set a new record this year of 812 Catholic Legacy Society members, an 18% increase over last year.