by James Barrows
This past weekend, ninety JPCatholic students traveled to the gold rush town of Julian for an affordable and comfortable Winter Revive Retreat through the financial support of the Augustine Foundation.
In year’s past, Campus Ministry has struggled to find an affordable and comfortable retreat center for students. Chase said, “We used to do the retreat at Broken Rock Ranch….it was kind of run down…we had to cook, the heaters were broken in half the girl’s dorms, there was no permanent chapel.” This year, they were looking to improve the situation. Chase heard about Whispering Winds from a local youth minister at his last parish, and was lucky enough to secure a spot through a deposit, which was donated generously by an anonymous sponsor. Unfortunately, the cost for the retreat was still high for students. “The retreat cost $130 per person and we didn’t want students to pay $130.” Brother Dominic recognized the issue, and suggested the Augustinian Foundation. “It bothered me that students were having a hard time going on retreats because of financial situations…so I told Chase to apply to the foundation,” he said.
The Augustinian Foundation provides grants to non-profit organizations who are seeking resources and funding for their missions, retreats, or religious endeavors. Its purpose, as Brother Dominic said, is to “help non-profit organizations carry out the mission of Christ”. The Augustinians firmly believe in helping those persons who serve the community; They do not want ministries ending for lack of funding or resources. Brother Dominic said, “If you have an endeavor that you believe in that needs funding, we don’t believe you should be without the money if there’s a need. The Augustinian Foundation enables action towards the ministries.”
To keep the integrity of the foundation and its mission, the Augustinians conduct a rigorous application process which ensures the good will of the organizations applying. “We have to make sure that the liabilities have all been gone through… if they aren’t using it to spread the gospel and to help people and ministries, then they are abusing the purpose of the foundation…So, the application process is rigorous.”
Chase, after hearing about the grant, immediately went through the application process. Fortunately, he already had a requirement fulfilled in Brother Dominic’s endorsement and sponsorship. Chase said, “Through Brother Dominic, we got in touch with the Augustine Foundation…we applied a year ago last January. It’s this big process. Brother Dominic was our sponsor, represented us, vouched for us, we applied for $20,000 for the next three years, and we got it!” Some of the money secured a stipend for Sister Anahyd and her on-campus ministry, but the rest served as funds for Campus Ministry equipment and retreat costs this year, especially costs for the Winter Retreat. “We did some math, crunched some numbers, with the Augustine grant, with the [anonymous] donor in the summer, and then plus what the school subsidized- we only had to charge students $40.” Brother Dominic celebrated the approval of the application. He said, “The retreat, as we saw it, was a way that we could help the students there- a way to help students go on a reprieve, have time for prayer, quiet and silence, and grow closer to God.”
Chase hopes the grant will provide a solid base for future growth in Campus Ministry and its events and outreaches. He said, “The idea was that we put a lot of money into retreats this year, through the grant, and then in future years, we will ask for bigger representation from the school or charge students a little bit more… basically to show people retreats are good, we should pay for this.” Ultimately, the grants purpose is to provide that foundation, that base for non-profit organizations. Brother Dominic said, “We want the organizations to be able to be self-sufficient. We like to give it a jump start…We want the organizations to have a plan.”
Fortunately, for Chase and the students who attended, the Augustinians believe in the mission of JPCatholic and the ministry of its students and its ultimate effect on the surrounding community. Brother Dominic said, “We want to support them in their mission of evangelization and empowering young people with spiritual tools that will assist them in engaging the world in ministry.”
Photos Courtesy of SOUL Apostolate