Catholic Services Appeal Foundation supports 20 ministries with critical funding

| February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

Important appeal

Caring for patients and their families in hospitals; helping make a Catholic school education available to all students; and serving youth in faith ministries.

These are just three of 20 ministries the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation supports with critical funding. Take a closer look with these stories by The Catholic Spirit’s Barb Umberger. Photos by the newspaper’s Dave Hrbacek.


Families wanting a Catholic school education for their children might think tuition costs are prohibitive. “Many think it’s not possible,” said Michael Rogers, president of Risen Christ School in Minneapolis. Yet he has seen many families express surprise and gratitude when they learn that they can afford a Catholic school after all.

The Catholic Services Appeal Foundation supports thousands of Catholic school students across the archdiocese through funding and scholarships. Many students whose families otherwise could not afford tuition are able to attend a Catholic school.

“That and other funding helps us bridge the gap between the cost to educate a child and what a family can afford to pay,” Rogers said.

Formed in 1993 with the consolidation of five parish schools, Risen Christ offers all-day kindergarten through eighth grade. The school also is the only dual-immersion Catholic school in the state. This year, students in kindergarten through fifth grade are taking half of their instruction in English and half in Spanish. Another grade will be added each of the next three years. Teaching teams in each grade include one English-speaking teacher and one Spanish-speaking teacher.

With dual immersion, math might be taught in English in the morning, but later in the day, children complete math worksheets in Spanish. Dual-language instruction provides many benefits, Rogers said, including better performance in both languages.
Besides core academic courses, Risen Christ offers music, physical education, computer and religion classes for all students. Middle school students participate in weekly character education sessions, building community, developing social and study skills and exploring possibilities for the future.

Just as Risen Christ offers dual-language immersion instruction, Catholic schools throughout the archdiocese offer other, specialized programming, said Melissa Uzelac, CSAF development manager.

“Together with a focus on the faith, it all contributes to a quality Catholic education,” she said. “The CSAF is proud to provide students across the archdiocese the opportunity to receive an excellent Catholic school education.”


St. Boniface in northeast Minneapolis is home to Father Biju Mathew, where he serves as parochial administrator. But he also has four “homes away from home” — hospitals where he serves in his other role as a chaplain: M Health Fairview’s Bethesda and St. Joseph’s hospitals in St. Paul, St. John’s in Maplewood and Woodwinds in Woodbury.

Father Mathew has regular hours at St. Joseph’s two days a week and is on call at all four hospitals.

He is one of several chaplains from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who serve about a dozen hospitals in the archdiocese. Funds raised by the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation help pay the chaplains’ expenses as they serve patients and their families.

Father Mathew, for example, presides at Mass every Sunday afternoon at St. Joseph’s, which also is available as a broadcast in patients’ rooms. But his main role as chaplain is ministering in person to those in the hospital and their families, and sometimes to hospital staff.

Family members might need support in crisis situations or encouragement during a loved one’s recovery, said Father Mathew, who last year was funded through the CSAF but is now supported by a hospital grant. Some ask for a priest to be with them to pray when a family member’s death is near. “Sometimes, just having a priest there, even without words,” he said, “is a comforting presence for the family.”

Patients might need emotional support or spiritual guidance when they are dealing with a serious illness. Others request sacraments. Father Mathew hears confessions, distributes Communion and anoints the sick, which he calls part of the healing ministry of Jesus.

“It brings so much comfort as I pray over patients and anoint them with the consecrated holy oil,” he said. “It helps them offer their pain and suffering to Jesus.”

Some patients cannot speak due to intubation or a medical condition. Others cannot move. “In that case, when I provide anointing of the sick, sometimes a tear comes to their eye,” he said.

God works through the medical skills of the doctors and nurses, he said, “and God works through us and our ministry.” Father Mathew also works with other members of the clergy and Eucharistic ministers in serving patients and family members. “You have the feeling that God is working through you, and you can be a comfort to people in the name of Jesus,” he said.


Seven years ago, Joaquin Martinez suggested to his 12-year-old daughter, Adriana, that she check out the youth group at the Church of St. Stephen in Minneapolis. Little did he know that he would be joining the youth group, too.

When he made the suggestion, her response, from which he sensed confusion, not sarcasm, was, “Dad, why don’t you go?” So he did. And Martinez has now served seven years as the youth director and three years as confirmation director.

The Catholic Services Appeal Foundation provides funding for services provided to youth ministers like Martinez through the archdiocese’s youth and young adult ministry, focusing on networking, resources and training. CSAF also supports the annual Archdiocesan Youth Day and national March for Life pilgrimage.

After Adriana’s first participation in Archdiocesan Youth Day, Martinez said she developed a profound relationship with God.

“With tears in her eyes, she said, ‘Dad, thank you for bringing me down to this wonderful journey of life.’ She just needed to be shown the path.”

At last year’s Archdiocesan Youth Day, Adriana served as emcee for the women’s session, her father proudly recalled.

In addition to faith formation classes, programs offered for youth at St. Stephen’s include:

  • A “guitar group” where Martinez and another adult teach students the basics of playing the guitar; new guitar players are invited to play at Mass
  • A “skit group” called Performers for Christ; students have performed at confirmations and for the group’s core team.
  • A youth group that meets every Friday, often talking about faith.

Martinez also shepherds about 350 teens through retreats and programs that his group hosts each year. The young people raise funds with food sales to help pay for lights, a sound system and the cost of renting the space.

The youth group helps teens keep up with their faith, and believe in a life with Christ, Martinez said.

CSAF MINISTRIESAbria Pregnancy Resources
American Indian ministry
Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women (ACCW)
Campus Ministry – Newman Center
Campus Ministry – St. Paul’s Outreach
Catholic Charities
Deaf ministries
Elementary school funding
Elementary school scholarships
High school scholarships
Hospital chaplains
Latino ministry
Marriage, Family and Life
Prison ministry
Rachel’s Vineyard Twin Cities
St. Vincent de Paul Society
Seminarian tuition, room and board
Venezuelan mission
Youth and young adults

Catholic Services Appeal

Category: Catholic Services Appeal, Featured