The Bishop Miles Society, previously known as the Catholic Foundation of Tennessee, Inc., will host its annual dinner and meeting on Thursday, April 21, 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows Church.
The Bishop Miles Society was recently renamed to honor the Diocese of Nashville’s first bishop, Richard Pius Miles, who established a formal Catholic presence in the state in the mid-19th century. “This is a fitting name to continue doing what he started in building up the Diocese of Nashville,” said Sandra Jordan, secretary of the Society and director of grants and annual giving for the diocese.
For nearly a half century, the Bishop Miles Society has been an important source of funding for small and rural parishes in the diocese that are looking to expand with new churches or parish facilities. Since the Catholic Foundation was founded in 1969, it has distributed more than $1.8 million to small parishes, schools and other organizations in the diocese.
|St. Frances Cabrini parishioners broke ground for a new church in August of 2015. The new church will double the capacity of the current church, which was built in 1953. In 2014, the Lebanon, Tenn. parish received a $25,000 grant from the Catholic Foundation of Tennessee, now known as the Bishop Miles Society, to help fund construction of the new church. Tennessee Register file photo by Andy Telli
Most often, the foundation funds land purchases and bricks and mortar projects in parishes outside of Nashville, but within diocesan boundaries. In recent years, grants have been awarded to St. Catherine Church in McMinnville for church renovations, St. Frances Cabrini Church in Lebanon for new church construction, and to the Church of the Nativity in Spring Hill for new church construction. In the past, the foundation has also awarded grants to Camp Marymount, the Korean Catholic Community, and the Carmelite retreat center, among many others.
Over the years, grants have ranged from about $3,000 to more than $100,000 to each recipient; the board usually awards grants to several parishes or organizations per calendar year. The projects most likely to receive funding are those “with the most amount of impact,” said Jordan, for which additional funds have already been raised, and diocesan approval has been received.
The Bishop Miles Society has a particular goal to foster a Catholic presence in counties outside of Nashville where Catholic churches may be few and far between. It also wants to support parishes in growing areas. “We want to provide the faithful with places to worship,” Jordan said.
Annual membership in the Bishop Miles Society now begins at $125 for an individual or $250 for a couple. “We hope to bring in more people by adding that lower membership level,” Jordan said. “With the expected growth of the diocese, the Bishop Miles Society can provide for our future needs,” she said.
The Bishop Miles Society fills a niche that helps smaller diocesan parishes and schools grow and thrive, and they are always looking for new members to contribute to this worthy cause. “We have a very active group on the board right now, but they are looking to pass the torch to the younger generation,” said Jordan. For more information, e-mail Sandra.Jordan@dioceseofnashville.com or call (615) 783-0267.