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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

051017 McSweeney Msgr John$250,000 donation to benefit parish World Hunger Drive

CHARLOTTE — Monsignor John McSweeney is known for being direct. From upstate New York, he is a person of few words but long on action and making a difference in people’s lives. He is a pastor who gets things done, with the support of his staff and 10,000-plus registered families who comprise the nation’s largest Catholic parish.

To memorialize his efforts as pastor over the past 18 years, an anonymous donor has given $250,000 to establish an endowment for a cause dear to Monsignor McSweeney’s heart: the parish World Hunger Drive.

Each summer, St. Matthew parishioners form an army of volunteers who help collect literally tons of non-perishable food, then assemble and pack more than 300,000 meals that are shipped overseas to people in need. Agencies that benefit from the parish’s outreach include the Missionaries of the Poor, Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte and Second Harvest Food Bank.

The Monsignor McSweeney World Hunger Outreach Program Endowment Fund will help ensure an annual funding source to continue this work at the parish.

“I was humbled by the endowment that is being placed in my name,” Monsignor McSweeney said. “I see that as a tremendous love of the donors for the poor, as I do myself. The hope is that those funds will be able to assist in those times of unique need for individuals.”

Mark Creasser, coordinator of the parish’s World Hunger Drive, calls the ministry an important outreach effort by the St. Matthew parish family to serve people in Haiti and Jamaica.

“Our parishioners feel blessed that we can assist the Missionaries of the Poor and others who are helping the people in these countries,” Creasser said. “Last year, our parishioners volunteered 4,000 hours in packing, collecting and shipping of eight 40-foot containers. We have shipped over 2.2 million pounds of food and materials (to Haiti and Jamaica through the Missionaries of the Poor) since we began the program in 2003.”

Judy Smith, of the office of development with the diocese, calls the endowment “a wonderful example of how a thoughtful and generous donor can make an impact where there is great need, and one that will last for many future generations.”

The anonymous donor explained the reasoning behind setting up this endowment: “Under Monsignor McSweeney, St. Matthew World Hunger Drive has served the poor internationally and locally since beginning 14 years ago. The endowment will ensure the Monsignor McSweeney World Hunger Drive continues on as St. Matthew parishioners put into practice, ‘An Attitude of Gratitude.’ ”

The endowment will be administered through the Diocese of Charlotte Foundation. Established in 1994, the foundation has grown to encompass 246 endowments and more than $43 million in total assets.

To date, more than 900 people have indicated that they are making gifts to the Church in their estates, anywhere from the thousands to the millions of dollars.

Endowments provide an ongoing source of support, as the principal funds remain intact and the recipient entity receives funds from the income.

Recent endowments include an estate gift last year to St. Barnabas Church in Arden – the largest endowment gift the diocese has ever received. Originally the endowment was estimated to be $3.6 million, but that figure has now increased to $4.1 million upon the estate being finalized, diocesan officials said.

Also, a couple from Immaculate Conception Church in Hendersonville recently donated a condo that was sold to generate an endowment of $403,000 for Immaculata School. That means the school will be able to use approximately $20,000 annually to help fund scholarships and provide other financial help to the school.

The Monsignor McSweeney World Hunger Outreach Program Endowment Fund was a cash gift.

“This endowment means that our program can continue for years to come,” Creasser explained. “It is heartwarming to see this incredible gift in the name of Monsignor McSweeney, who has been a great supporter of World Hunger Drive. We want to thank the wonderful people who made this gift possible, and ask that the good Lord bless them and their family.”
For details about establishing an endowment or providing an estate gift, contact Ray-Eric Correia, diocesan director of planned giving, at 704-370-3364 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

— SueAnn Howell, Senior reporter