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In Great Gratitude for a Firm Foundation


Mary Quilici Aumack

Chief Executive Officer
Catholic Community Foundation of
Santa Clara County, aumack@cfoscc.org


As we celebrate Bishop McGrath’s two-plus decades of service to the Diocese of San Jose in what he calls the “Valley of Saint Clare,” we know that his contributions to our ministry, and to our faith journeys has been broad, inclusive and important.

I would like to focus on his legacy as it pertains to building financial strength through endowments and planned giving.

What is a true endowment?  It is a permanent fund, focused on a specific institution or ministry, from which only a portion of the earnings are ever spent.  The most commonly known form of endowment is that of scholarship.  Think of the universities with the strongest tuition assistance programs:  Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, etc.  In ALL cases, this is because they have built large endowments, and NEVER utilized the principal.

In the Diocese of San Jose, the development of endowments is relatively recent.  When Bishop McGrath recognized that we would need significant funding to fully implement the Pastoral Plan for the Diocese, he launched the ROOTED IN FAITH campaign.  Through his wisdom and leadership, a significant portion of the funds raised were in the form of endowment.

The Catholic Community Foundation (then the Catholic Foundation) was formed to manage the endowments, and to establish a consistent grant making process.

Whenever I speak of the power of endowment, I always say this:  The ROOTED IN FAITH campaign ended in 2012.  We started granting from the endowments in 2008 and have been granting consistently ever since.  And, ALL of the funds of the campaign are larger now than when the campaign ended.  This is a function of prudent investment and appropriate grant making.

Since 2008 the Foundation has added funds and granted roughly $30 million across a broad range of ministries, including:  Parish & School Endowments, Catholic Charities, Vocations, ILM, Youth & Young Adult Ministry, Parish Outreach, Pastoral Ministry, Parish Stewardship, and Liturgical Music.  In 2018 alone we granted $2.9 million.

Statistics are good, but stories help really tell the importance of endowment-based funding:

Parishioners have told us that the establishment of a parish or school endowment was the “answer to their prayers”

Pastors have embraced endowments as another form of providing financial support for ministry

The downtown homeless support programs that started at the Cathedral and are now managed by Catholic Charities have provided food, warm clothing, healthcare and HOPE

The after-school program at Sacred Heart of Jesus provides food, games, tutoring and love for children

Deanery 6 partners with other groups to put on a summer literacy program each year

From the “Parish Repair and Refurbishment” endowment, we have granted each year to help deal with issues of infrastructure and safety

In addition to the development of endowments, under the leadership of Bishop McGrath we have launched the Society of St. Joseph in gratitude for individuals and families who have remembered Church in their estate plans, including gifts both endowed and outright.

All of this speaks to legacy, that of Bishop McGrath and of all those who have chosen to become a part of what we call FOREVER VALUE, through a gift to any endowment and through an estate gift that keeps us a part of the ministry FOREVER.

All of this is in celebration of the WHY of us: gratitude for the very real presence of Jesus Christ, that compels us to action.

There are many “perqs” of my job, but that which outdistances and outshines all the rest is the deepening of my faith.  We, the staff and board of the Catholic Community Foundation, have the unique and ineffable opportunity to learn about myriad good works through our grant making, and to work to broaden the circles of support for them.

Bishop McGrath has often said that when he launched the ROOTED IN FAITH campaign, he had no idea how soon we would see the results in terms of grant making.  He says that he thought it would be his successor’s successor’s successor who would experience the consistent touch of the endowments.  Instead, it is NOW, and it is material.

We owe the strength of these funds, and yes, this “foundation,” to Bishop McGrath.

And we will FOREVER be grateful.

For more information regarding the Catholic Community Foundation, visit www.cfoscc.org.