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Holy Names Sisters grant helps support The Fig Tree


By Catherine Ferguson SNJM

Since the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) began their Ministry Grant Program, they have been supporting the Fig Tree with funds ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.

In 2006, when the Sisters eliminated their four United States and Ontario Canada Provinces to merge into one Province, the Sisters wanted to continue to offer support to the many good ministries being done by Sister volunteers or by Sisters carrying out special projects. This was the beginning of the Sisters of the Holy Names Ministry Grant Program.

Sister Rosemary Delaney from Oakland, Calif., chair of the grants committee explained, "Each year the province sets aside about $100,000 for grants to Sisters connected with ministries who don't otherwise receive monetary support from the SNJM community. Even though the grants are relatively small—up to $5,000, they make a big difference in people's lives."

The grant is simple to obtain and requires little in the way of reporting.  Each year in the fall, an application form is sent out to community members and in the spring, another form to report how the funds were used is returned to the grant committee.

There are only two criteria for the grant: a Holy Names Sister has to be connected with the organization some way, and the work has to be in line with the mission and vision of the Sisters.

Before her death in 2006, Sister Bernardine Casey, one of the founding members of the Fig Tree, began applying for SNJM Ministry Mini Grants from 2002 to 2005 for website development and rural outreach projects. She saw it as a way to help provide support for the Fig Tree.  She filled out applications for the mini grants, explaining how the work of the Fig Tree supported the mission and vision of the Sisters. 

Each year since then, a Holy Names Sister connected with the Fig Tree in some way has followed in Bernardine's footsteps by submitting the grant application.  The Fig Tree has received between $2,000 and $5,000 each year for particular needs as identified by editor Mary Stamp, including capacity building, training writers and editors, supporting stipends for freelancers and interns, and resource directory community partnerships.

Because of COVID restrictions, many programs had special needs this year. Twenty-two organizations from Spokane to Peru and Haiti received grants to help support their ministries.

The grants assist programs for the homeless in Oregon and California, a community center for women, children and gender diverse people in Portland, and food pantries in Portland and Blue River, Ore. They enabled schools to offer scholarships and educational materials to needy students in Spokane, Portland and Oakland, and those offering spiritual retreats to make them available to some who can't afford them.

In Peru, because many schools were online in COVID, the grant helped support needs of children in the poorest areas of Lima and its suburbs. It provided transportation for children cut off from education to areas where they could be tutored.

Testimony from those who received grants demonstrates how important a small boost is to the work of these ministries.

In California, Sister Lois MacGillivray, an active member of the Association of Faith Communities (AFC) and a member of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Parish writes: The AFC works to feed and house the persons living in the community without shelter. This year it is working to secure Safe Spaces for people living in vehicles. It is partnering with the Warming Center, a low threshold program, taking in anyone who comes. It has added storage, laundry services and showers to its services.

She said that when homeless people have storage, they can move around the community without being identified as homeless. We believe one's own clothes are an extension of the concept of  'home.'" Lois said. 

At Our Lady of Refuge parish, a project of Sister Nicki Thomas provides scholarships for technology assistance that helped one beneficiary help in the community and another prepare a better life for her children.

In Haiti, a ministry grant is a used at Santa Chiara Children's Center clinic, a refuge and a safe harbor from the violence and hunger that exists every day in Haiti.

"The Sisters are happy to be able to provide this support and encouragement to so many worthy ministries," said Rosemary.

For information, call 535-1813 or email

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, March, 2022