To respond to the generosity of an anonymous Catholic donor, Bishop David Choby and Habitat for Humanity have put out the call for volunteers in the Catholic community to help build a home for a deserving Middle Tennessee family.
The representative of an anonymous Catholic donor recently approached Habitat with a $60,000 donation to build a Habitat house in honor of Pope Francis, for his commitment to social justice and invigorating the Church. Now, Habitat is seeking approximately 200 volunteers from local parishes, schools and other organizations who can commit to building the house this fall.
“It is certainly not a regular occurrence” for the local Habitat affiliate to receive such a large anonymous donation like this one, according to Mike Allen, director of faith relations for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville.
Since money is always harder to solicit than volunteers, Allen said, “I’m fairly confident that if we put out the call for volunteers, we usually get them.”
Jim Bryan of Christ the King Parish, who has been involved in many Habitat builds over the years, encourages members of the Catholic community to get involved. “It’s been a tremendous experience for all those who have participated,” he said of his parish’s experience with Habitat.
Typically, Christ the King joins forces with three other parishes once a year to participate in a “Catholic build,” donating $15,000 to the cause and 50 volunteers to work one full weekend on the house.
“When we work on the build, we work alongside the husband and the wife,” Bryan said, framing, painting, and landscaping the house together. “We also invite the family to come to Christ the King so they can meet the parish community.” That way, the family and the parish get to know each other a little better, he said.
For a single organization to participate in a Habitat build, they must donate $60,000 to cover the cost of the materials and subcontractor labor, as well as supply 200 volunteers. The anonymous donation gives smaller parishes who do not have the financial resources to contribute that amount of money the opportunity to simply volunteer for the cause.
The recipient of the “Pope Francis” house will be a Coptic Christian family from Egypt. Families chosen to become Habitat homeowners must meet qualifications, including attending 70 hours of classes that cover topics such as household budgets and maintenance; save up the required $2,500 for a down payment, and work at least 100 hours on Habitat houses including their own. They then make a monthly mortgage payment that fits within their budget.
While efforts are under way to find hundreds of volunteers for the “Pope Francis” house, Allen is also seeking one more parish to join Cathedral, Christ the King, St. Stephen and St. Edward parishes on a second “Catholic build” this fall. The two houses will be constructed side by side at the same time and will both be dedicated to Coptic Christian families. “Undoubtedly, both of these families are deserving of the opportunity to own a home in America,” Bishop Choby wrote in a letter to pastors, principals and parish leaders, seeking volunteers to help build the two homes.
For the upcoming “Catholic build,” Cathedral, Christ the King, and St. Stephen parishes have each committed $15,000 and volunteers for one of four weekends of the build, while St. Edward has committed $7,500 and one day of volunteer service from their parish. Habitat is still seeking one additional parish that can donate the final $7,500 and 25 volunteers for one day of that build.
The Pope Francis house and the other Catholic build house will be built side-by-side in the “Hallmark” subdivision in Antioch from Oct. 24-Nov. 15. “We will try to figure out how to celebrate together both of these houses built by the Catholic community,” Allen said.
The anonymous donation, Bryan said, “is a great opportunity for the Catholic community to get behind that and provide the labor.”
For more information about the upcoming Habitat builds, contact Allen at Habitat for Humanity at (615) 942-1251 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Matt Hawkins at (615) 942-1255 or email@example.com. Also visit