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We, the Knights of Columbus, strong right arm of the Church stand in solidarity with our priests and bishops. And therefore, our solidarity goes to their formation years. We support our diocesan vocation programs in several ways.
Conversing as we do every year with the Directors of the Diocesan Vocation Offices of the four dioceses in Iowa, we have learned that the cost to provide tuition, room, board, and stipend for a seminarian is between $35,000 and $45,000. EACH! We continuously pray for vocations to the religious life, which is the best way to ask God for more priests and religious sisters. We have to compliment such prayers with financial support.
The Pennies for Heaven program collects around $30,000 a year from the contributions of individual Councils during the State Conventions. Other council contributions to the Vocations Fund add up to over $5,000 a year. These funds are used for:
1. Give each of the four diocesan vocation directors some mad money to meet emergency needs of their seminarians.
2. Sponsor gatherings of recently ordained priests in all four dioceses.
3. Sponsor the annual seminarian gathering for all Iowa seminarians before they go back to their respective schools in the fall.
4. Sponsor discernment days and weekends for prospective seminarians.
Another way we help is by the interest on the Perpetual Memorial Society is evenly divided among the four dioceses in Iowa and destined for their educational programs, including Vocations. Last year we gave each bishop $7,519.64, totaling just over $30,000.
The additional support is the Refund Support Vocations Program (RSVP) which promotes Councils sending financial and moral support to diocesan seminarians, religious order seminarians, and novices to religious orders that require college education.
The program works by refunding up $100 for every $500 that a Council donates to a seminarian. You need to submit the RSVP Application before the end of the fraternal year (June 30th). You should receive your check by mid September. The refunded money can be your seed money for next year's donation. It's like a 20% interest! In the last few years the donations from individual councils exceed $50,000 a year!
All these efforts accumulate. The Knights of Columbus in Iowa donate over $115,000 per year to support vocations. If you think about it, this is only enough to cover 2.5 seminarians. As of today, the four dioceses combine for over 50 seminarians!
In the Fraternal Year 2015-2016, the RSVP Program is a Featured Program by Supreme Council. Councils that provide financial and moral support (minimum of $500 and unlimited amount of prayers) to at least one seminarian will receive credit for the 4 Church Activities for the Columbian Award. If you think about it, it takes about $40 per month in order to collect the $500.
The Diocesan Vocation Offices always ask that the Councils contact their local office before sending money to the seminarians. This way they can tell you who have greater need for assistance or who have maxed the gift limits established by their diocese. It is about keeping it equally spread among all seminarians. See the Resources section above for a link to your diocese's vocations office.
We are working much closer with the Offices for Vocations to make our Councils aware of their needs. Feel free to call them. Offer to sponsor an Andrew Dinner. Invite their seminarians to your council meetings and to join your council.
The core of our Church is the Eucharist, the living presence of the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is through our priests that the Mystery of the Eucharist takes place. Let us be that strong arm of the Church and help promote vocations through prayer, financial support, and most of all by telling our youth: You would make an excellent priest!
St. Jean Marie Vianney: Pray for us!