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$14.7 million in grants earmarked for faith-based humanitarian projets in Africa, South America, Asia and Eastern Europe announced by Dave Savage
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$14.7 million in grants earmarked for faith-based humanitarian projets in Africa, South America, Asia and Eastern Europe announced by Dave Savage

In the late 1980s, Pope John Paul II lamented to his friend Cardinal John Krol, who was then serving as Archbishop of Philadelphia, that many worthy requests for financial assistance poured into the Vatican from every corner of the world. Due to the volume of requests, and the resources available, it pained the Holy Father that he couldn’t answer all these needs. Cardinal Krol decided something needed to be done about it.

He gathered generous families he knew – those willing to donate a $1 million gift to the Church’s charitable works of mercy – and The Papal Foundation was born in 1988.

Thirty-six years later The Papal Foundation, headquartered in Chester, Delaware County, is the only charitable organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to fulfilling the requests of the Holy Father for the needs of the Universal Church.

Through this institution, more than $200 million has been awarded in grants and scholarships all over the world.

The Papal Foundation refers to its benefactors as “Stewards of St. Peter,” as they are in service to the Pope, the Successor of Peter.

“Being a Steward of St. Peter is a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with laity, clergy, and hierarchy within the Church to have a positive impact on the lives of those most in need around the world,” says Eustace Mita, President of The Papal Foundation Board of Trustees.  He and his wife Sue have been Stewards of St. Peter since 2005.

“Serving the needs of the Church that are of particular significance to Pope Francis and his papacy is a blessing we all hold very dear to our hearts,” Mita says.

Currently 140 families are stewards. They come from across the United States and Canada.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston, is The Papal Foundation’s Chairman. The board also includes four bishops and archbishops.

During the week of Divine Mercy Sunday, a contingent of 125 people from The Papal Foundation – stewards and their family members, staff members, and clergy – attended an annual pilgrimage to Rome, where they had an audience with Pope Francis.

At this time, The Papal Foundation presented the Holy Father with a gift of $14.7 million for grants, scholarships, and humanitarian aid to serve the Catholic Church throughout the world.

“The Church is the only resource to help sometimes. We really have to help the poorest of the poor.  We are the arms and legs of the Holy Father around the world,” said Dave Savage, Executive Director of The Papal Foundation.

Much aid, Savage says, goes to Africa, South America, and Asia, and some goes to Eastern Europe.

This year, The Papal Foundation received 166 grant requests, and was able to fund 118 of them, or 71 percent, in more than 60 countries.

The Papal Foundation will distribute $9,921,000 among the 118 projects selected, including:  providing for basic needs such as access to clean water; constructing schools and renovating classrooms; translating Church teachings for evangelization; restoring churches, convents, and seminaries in desperate need of repairs; providing students in remote areas with transportation to further their education; and building healthcare facilities.

The Papal Foundation also provides humanitarian aid through its Mission Fund, allocating $4 million in emergency funds in times of crisis to feed the hungry, tend to the sick, and shelter the homeless.

The Papal Foundation’s Saint John Paul II Scholarship will provide $819,000 in scholarships that will enable more than 100 priests, women religious, and seminarians to study at a Pontifical University in Rome.

“The goal is to bring these resources to the places that need it most,” says Savage.

Savage says that The Papal Foundation is looking for more people who are interested in becoming stewards, and the hope is that The Papal Foundation can double their grant money distribution in future years.

“As Stewards, we grow together in faith, drawing strength from the witness of the Holy Father and his humble example,” said Mita.

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