Youth Ambassadors and Catholic Service Scholarship recipients Sophia Deyden, McKenna Cassidy and Lauren Scardello, of Xavier College Preparatory and Cassidy Bayda of Seton Catholic Preparatory. (Courtesy Catholic Community Foundation)

The Catholic Community Foundation presented checks totaling $419,825 to a roomful of grant recipients at its annual meeting and grants reception Nov. 7 at the National Bank of Arizona Conference Center.

Grants were awarded to Catholic schools, organizations that work among the poor, communications efforts and Christian formation programs within the Diocese of Phoenix.

Pam Hammond, manager of programs and communications for CCF, said the money for the grants program comes from the net proceeds of the annual Crozier Gala along with a percentage of the foundation’s unrestricted fund balances.  Additional grant funding for Catholic schools and work among the poor comes from endowments left to the foundation by donors who have passed away.

Unrestricted and planned gifts enable the foundation to be more responsive to the needs of our Catholic community, Hammond said.

Sr. Mary Chinelo Nwokafor, IHM, who directs the religious education program at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glendale, said the $2,000 in grant money she received will help the almost 300 children who participate in the program every year at OLPH.

“The grant really helps us a lot because we serve more of the [underprivileged] community and most of them come without the money for the registration,” Sr. Mary Chinelo said. “This grant helps us buy some materials for them so they can be educated in the foundation of the faith.”

Fr. Chauncey Winkler, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Havasu City, was on hand at the grants reception to pick up a check for $4,000. The funds he received are to help run the parish’s soup kitchen which feeds about 1,200 people every month and serves dinner Tuesday and Thursday.

“People come in, the table is set, and their food is brought to them — a hot meal,” Fr. Winkler said. “The grant helps to purchase the food.” Although some of the food the soup kitchen serves is donated, volunteers still need to purchase additional items. “You can’t make a recipe out of just what you get donated — you need some more,” Fr. Winkler said.

Cindy Leonard, coordinator of the Office of Natural Family Planning for the Phoenix Diocese, was thankful for the $4,000 check she received on behalf of a popular program aimed at young people.

“This grant is going to help us further develop the chastity program at the Catholic Academy for Life Leadership,” Leonard said. “We’re really trying to get the high school youth to understand the issues of our time that are pivotal issues and get them a good grounding in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.”

Funds from the grant will help develop the retreat program and give scholarships for kids who can’t afford to attend retreats, she said.

Donna Marino, president and CEO of the Catholic Community Foundation lauded the generosity of donors who make the foundation’s grants possible and in turn serve so many worthy causes within the diocese.

“Our ability to make these annual grants hinges on the Catholic faithful’s support of our annual Crozier Gala and general unrestricted fund,” Marino said. “It is always our hope and prayer that each year donors will be able to do more and more for these important programs and ministries of the Diocese of Phoenix.”