What is Shepherds of Hope?

Shepherds of Hope is an extraordinary effort of the Diocese of Providence to strengthen our priestly vocations and care for our elderly priests.

How were these two priorities chosen?

The Council of Priests and the Diocesan Finance Council recognizing the pressing need the Diocese was facing regarding both priest formation costs and priest retirement funding recommended to Bishop Tobin that a capital campaign be undertaken. 

How many major seminarians does the Diocese have and how much does it cost per year to educate them?

For the 2011 academic year there were 8 major seminarians, two of whom will be ordained to the priesthood on June 25th. For the 2012 academic year there will be 11 major seminarians.  The current cost, which includes formation education room, board and healthcare is $52,266 per seminarian annually.

What is a major seminarian?

A major seminarian is studying at the masters (graduate) level, pursuing degrees in theology and divinity.  Major seminary is the final four years prior to ordination to the priesthood.

Additionally, the first four years of study for the priesthood are referred to as “minor” seminary.  A minor seminarian is studying at the baccalaureate (undergraduate) level and is usually jointly pursuing their BA in philosophy.

For more information about our seminarians or to learn about the minor seminary of the Diocese, the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence visit www.catholicpriest.com.

How many retired priests do we currently have and what is their pension? 

As a Diocese we have been blessed with many men who have answered the Lord’s call to priestly service; with many of these loyal men have been meeting our spiritual needs for 40 or more years.  As of July 1, 2011 the Diocese of Providence has 101 retired priests, this includes 6 priests who retired on July 1st.  Our retired priests receive $22,500 each in yearly retirement stipends.

When can a priest retire and what does he do in retirement?

A priest can request retirement at age 70; however, many of our priests continue to serve until the mandatory retirement age of 75.  Retirement for a priest is simply the relinquishing of parish administrative responsibilities, he remains a priest forever.  Even in retirement, our senior priests continue to serve the ministerial and spiritual needs of Rhode Island Catholics which includes celebrating Mass and hearing confessions.

How does the Diocese currently fund the cost of seminarian formation and the stipend for retired priests?

The Diocese utilizes a combination of operating revenues, “second” collections and two dedicated funds: The Most Reverend Robert E. Mulvee Seminarian Education and Formation Endowment and the Our Lady Queen of Clergy Priests Retirement Fund.

How much do we currently have in these two endowments?

As of the close of the prior fiscal year, June 30,2010 the balance in each fund is:

Our Lady Queen of Clergy
Fund                                   $9,878,369

Mulvee Seminary Education
and Formation Fund       $934,867

How much income does each fund generate and what can it support?

Following prudent financial management guidelines, the Diocese has a current endowment spending rate of 4% of a fund’s total per yearThus the two funds generate $444,527 and $42,069 respectively.

Using the costs stated earlier, the Our Lady Queen of Clergy Fund is able to fund almost 20 priests per year and the Mulvee Fund can support 80% of 1 major seminarian per year.

How is the Diocese going to address this financial situation?

The identified need of the Diocese relating to priestly formation and priest retirement is $37 million, if both endowments were to be “fully funded.” 

Shepherds of Hope will provide the infusion of capital necessary to maintain the sound financial footing of the Diocese as it relates to these two crucial aspects of the Church’s ministry. 

What is the financial goal of the campaign and how will it be allocated?

We seek to raise a minimum of $20,000,000 that will be held in separate endowments.  $13,500,000 will support priest retirement through the Our Lady, Queen of Clergy Retirement Endowment Fund and $6,500,000 will support priestly formation and education of our major seminarians through the Most Reverend Robert E. Mulvee Seminary Education and Formation Endowment Fund.

Why doesn’t Shepherds of Hope include funding for Catholic Education?

Recognizing that there is indeed a need to support Catholic Education, the Council of Priests and the Diocesan Finance Council understood the need to support our priests, both retired and future, as the Diocese’s most pressing need.

Who is asked to participate?

Shepherds of Hope seeks the participation of faithful Catholics who have an interest in caring for priests of the Church of Providence.  Those who have been blessed with extraordinary talents and gifts who have the ability to make a Major Gift ($50,000+) are being approached initially.

How is Shepherds of Hope different than the Catholic Charity Appeal and Anchor of Hope?

Shepherds of Hope is a targeted major gifts effort seeking to secure substantial multi-year commitments to strengthen our priestly vocations and care for our elderly priests for the long-term.  Both Anchor of Hope and the Catholic Charity Appeal are broad based annual efforts to address the most current social and educational needs of the Diocese.

A targeted major gifts effort is one that will approach a selected group of Catholics seeking to secure truly sacrificial gifts through multi-year commitments that are in the upper 5, 6, and 7-figure levels.  These sacrificial commitments would be in addition to any ongoing support of one’s parish or the Diocese.

Will we be supporting seminarians from other dioceses or just those from the Diocese of Providence?

We are fortunate that other dioceses send their minor seminarians to study at Our Lady of Providence Seminar;: however, they are responsible for their own educational costs, as are our minor seminarians.  The Diocese and the Most Reverend Robert E. Mulvee Seminary Education and Formation Endowment will only support the major seminarians from the Diocese of Providence.

Are contributions to the campaign protected?

Yes, Shepherds of Hope has been established as a separate 501(c)(3) organization that will receive all gifts and payments to the Campaign.  Under the articles of incorporation, the money can only be used for the purposes of the Campaign.

How can I support the Shepherds of Hope Campaign?

Respond positively with a multi-year commitment when approached by a volunteer on behalf of the Shepherds of Hope Campaign.  For those who have the ability to make a significant commitment and would like to join the effort sooner please feel free to contact the Office of Stewardship and Development at (401) 277-2121.

In addition, we ask for your prayers for the success of this most worthy initiative and the priest — current and future — of our Diocese.


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