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God bless those who truly care

By Charlie Wieser
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            On Thanksgiving Day, when we gather with family and friends to celebrate our good fortune, let's remember to give thanks for the Omaha Archdiocesan Parish and Educational Foundations that have brought many blessings to our Catholic community.

            It all started 30 years ago, when Msgr. John Flynn established the Omaha Archdiocesan Educational Foundation (OAEF). His dream was for all schools to establish endowments to stabilize finances so their future success would be ensured.

            In the late 1970s, the OAEF had an estimated $100,000 in assets. It was at this time that V.J. Skutt asked John L. Maginn to assist with the investments. Today, OAEF assets exceed $18 million, with the investments diversified and managed professionally.

            Msgr. Flynn's wish was for all children who wanted to attend a Catholic school to be able to afford it. He worked diligently for contributions to increase the foundation, with all earnings paid out annually to help with current financial needs of Catholic schools. This was done to reduce the costs to students by making tuition affordable.

            In commenting on the OAEF's 30th anniversary, Maginn said, 'Monsignor Flynn (who passed away in 1997) was the "˜Johnny Appleseed' of endowments in the archdiocese and around the country. His vision and persistence are a legacy that all of us are perpetuating. By doing so, we are helping to assure the current and future financial viability of our marvelous system of Catholic schools in the archdiocese. They are our most precious assets."

            A recent dinner at the Happy Hollow Country Club celebrated the OAEF's 30th anniversary. Among the teachers saluting the trustees for the educational and parish foundations was Sue Moser, principal of Blessed Sacrament Elementary School in Omaha.

            'I've witnessed firsthand the impact your assistance has had on families, primarily large families in our schools, who needed that assistance to pay what they could afford rather than having the embarrassment of falling behind in tuition payments. Your outreach left their dignity intact. Your investment in the education of their children gave them hope for the future," she said.

            Also praising the educational endowments were: Deb Lund, director of Music in Catholic Schools; Sister Johanna Burnell, RSM, president of Mercy High School in Omaha; and Bill Gannon, president of Scotus Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Columbus. These administrators have seen the tremendous value of the OAEF in assisting students to receive a values-based education.

            In 1995, pastors requested to have their parish endowment funds managed professionally, so the Omaha Archdiocesan Parish Foundation was established. Speaking on behalf of the archdiocese's pastors was Father John Pietramale, who told the trustees attending the dinner at Happy Hollow, including Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss, chairman, and James Skinner, president: 'You, as people of vision, have helped our parish and school communities not only to survive, but to prosper. Collectively, the endowments and trust funds for the archdiocesan communities have grown to more than $147 million."

            Father Pietramale, pastor of Holy Trinity in Hartington, said the parish and school endowments in Hartington began in 1987, when Msgr. Cyril Werner and four parishioners donated $35,000. 'This seed of charitable giving has grown to over $1.5 million," he said. 'The interest from these funds is now supplying 5 percent of our total budget for Holy Trinity Parish and School."

            As can be seen, many blessings have come to the archdiocese, thanks to the trustees of our foundations who have stepped forward to guarantee the financial survival of our Catholic schools and parishes. Please remember them in your prayers on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the year.

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