With fund-raising dinner, summer gala and endowment gifts amount could exceed $5 million
By Dave Jolivet
FALL RIVER, Mass. — The St. Mary’s Education Fund was inaugurated in the Diocese of Fall River in 1991, with the intention of providing need-based scholarships to families of students who couldn’t otherwise afford a quality Catholic education.
The fund had its start with the closing of the St. Mary’s Orphanage in New Bedford, with assets from the sale transferred to create the St. Mary’s Education Fund.
Throughout the years, donors were sometimes confused about the fund’s name, and in 2015, with Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V.’s recommendation for a name change, the fund became the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education — FACE.
There’s an adage that claims, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but that doesn’t mean things can’t be tweaked along the way.
With that in mind, along with a name change, the bishop and James A. Campbell, diocesan director of Development, whose office is responsible for the FACE operations, saw the need to revamp the fund and breathe new life into it.
“We recognized the need to revitalize the board of directors, bring in new members and revamp the whole structure,” Bishop da Cunha told The Anchor.
“The bishop has been very proactive in his approach to Catholic eduction in the diocese,” said Campbell. “We have recruited new people for the board, and the bishop instituted a new Task Force on Schools to come up with directions to ensure the successful future of diocesan schools.”
With the completion of the recent Fall Dinner to benefit FACE, its 2016 fund-raising totals reached $2,752,000, and news recently came into the Development Office of a gift to FACE from the estate of a recently-deceased member of the diocese that could exceed $2.2 million, bringing this year’s total to more than $5 million.
“This is incredible news,” Campbell told The Anchor. “Such an extremely generous gift will go a very long way to assisting families to send their children to our outstanding Catholic schools.
“Earlier this year, we received another extremely generous donation from the Carney Family Foundation of $1 million, asking FACE to match the contribution. Also, FACE received a $1.1 million endowment from another recently-deceased faithful member of the diocese.”
“The name change and the revamping of the whole structure seem to have borne good results,” the bishop added. “Now we have an active board, we have new members and we have seen a very successful year in 2016. With the generosity of many of our benefactors we have been able to give hundreds of scholarships to children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend our Catholic schools. These fund-raisers and gifts from generous benefactors, help to keep some of our schools open and serving the Catholic population of our diocese.”
Campbell echoed the bishop’s optimism, telling The Anchor that 2016 was a good beginning for the “turnaround for FACE.”
“The goal is to raise awareness of the benefits of a Catholic education and to make it more accessible.”
He noted that changes to some schools are necessary to enhance them and boost enrollment. “We need to continuously improve our schools,” he added.
Campbell had kudos for Bishop da Cunha’s involvement in the education process since he was installed more than two years ago. “He is not working so hard at improving our education system for any reason other than he is doing it for the greater good,” Campbell told The Anchor. “I admire the serious methodological way he is approaching issues, and that is going to attract more supporters and leaders.”
The very first St. Mary’s Fund Scholarship Dinner took place at White’s of Westport in November of 1995. Leading the charge for the inaugural fund-raiser were then-Fall River Bishop Sean P. O’Malley, OFM, Cap.; diocesan director of Education, the late Father Richard W. Beaulieu; with the now-retired Msgr. John F. Moore as master of ceremonies. The dinner chairman was Thomas J. Flatley, assisted by Patrick Carney.
The event raised $110,000. In 2016 the Fall Dinner and Summer Gala have tripled and doubled that amount respectively.
“All the members of the FACE board and staff from the Office of Development have worked very hard this year to make it a very successful year,” said Bishop da Cunha. “For this I am very grateful to all of them. I am also grateful to all the members of the Task Force on Schools for their many hours of hard work evaluating our schools and making recommendations on how to strengthen them for the future. We will all be better in the future because of the talents and generosity of so many people who have joined us and embraced this mission of Catholic education. God bless them all.”
“We realize the sacrifices that parents make to send their children to Catholic schools,” said Campbell, “and we also know the great sacrifices made by those who donate to FACE. We are grateful to all of them and will continue to work to make a quality Catholic education more accessible.”
The bishop added, “Our Catholic schools are here not only providing a quality education to many of our children, they are also serving the future of our Church and our communities. No other learning institutions provide the faith-based quality education as Catholic schools do. Our mission is indispensable to our Church and to society. All of us will benefit from the good that we do today to make our schools remain solid and vibrant for the future.”
To learn more about the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education, visit face-dfr.org, or call 508-675-1311.