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Countdown to our Future: Census 2020

Caitlin Furey Mayo

“The 2020 Census is here, and it is up to us to get counted and ensure that all of us, our families and our communities, are part of American’s narrative for the next decade.” – Stacey Abrams, Founder, Fair Count  

As the 2020 Census approaches its latest deadline of October 15, the Greater Washington region is inching closer to achieving a complete count, thanks to the work of community partners: Ayuda, Identity, Inc., Latin American Youth Center, Liberty’s Promise, and Mary’s Center.  These five organizations were part of the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Bridges for Census 2020 program, which awarded $60,000 in grants to expand multilingual outreach work in engaging populations that have been historically undercounted in the census.

Developed by program officer, Caitlin Mayo, the Bridges for Census 2020 program is an outgrowth of the foundation’s Bridges and Bridges for Schools communications capacity building programs. Through these programs the Crimsonbridge Foundation has partnered with nonprofits, hospitals, and schools to leverage multilingual communications to connect families with resources that will support their success and full community participation. For Bridges for Census 2020, Mayo sought out nonprofit partners within the Crimsonbridge network who were not only committed to supporting a complete count effort that included the clients, families, and communities they work with every day, but had a history of successful outreach strategies, established relationships, and expertise in working with multilingual immigrant communities.  The work has been ongoing throughout 2019 and 2020. All of the organizations have adapted in response to COVID-19 in order to continue census outreach while keeping their staff and communities safe.  During the 2020 Census, multilingual outreach has proven to be a key strategy to ensure that all people receive the information and resources needed to get counted.  Innovative strategies have included lifting youth voices through educational podcasts, setting up census “pop up tents” in outdoor spaces to provide guidance while complying with social distancing measures, and creating multilingual video tutorials to distribute widely on social media and directly with clients. 

 All over the country, nonprofit organizations have worked tirelessly to get a fair and accurate count, which can only be achieved if the census data includes populations that have been historically undercounted.  Though the Census Bureau uses the term “Hard to Count” to refer to these populations, which include immigrants, people of color, and young children, the reality is that although the census is meant to count every person living in the United States, the systems in place to do so are inadequate, which in the past has left certain populations and communities uncounted.  This is where nonprofits step in to play a crucial role in obtaining a fair and accurate count.  

“We know that the census informs how government, businesses, researchers, and communities make significant decisions, including allocating political representation, opening or closing businesses, providing social services, and allocating funding for schools, healthcare facilities, and basic infrastructure.” said Mayo. “For our region to thrive, we need this information to be accurate and inclusive.”

 The census matters.  It is a source of power in the sense that information gleaned from the census can be used to build a more inclusive and equitable Greater Washington region.  The census will impact our region’s recovery from COVID-19.  During these last two days, get out the message – we all count

To see the response rate in your community, visit the Census 2020 Hard to Count/Response Rate Map!

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Crimsonbridge Celebrates its 5 Year Anniversary with Executive Director Danielle M. Reyes

Bethesda, MD, October 5, 2020 – Five years ago, Danielle M. Reyes joined the Crimsonbridge Foundation as its founding Executive Director.  In partnership with Gabriela Smith, the Founder and President of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, Danielle has developed the Crimsonbridge Foundation to be an innovative and highly engaged philanthropic platform that is committed to working alongside its community partners to achieve impact.  In addition to designing grantmaking programs that have served more than 150 nonprofit organizations, Catholic schools, and universities throughout the Greater Washington region, Crimsonbridge has grown from one full-time employee to four, guides the investments of Crimsonbridge Group, has established an affiliated LLC, and has increased its grantmaking annually.

Danielle came to the Crimsonbridge Foundation with over 25 years of experience in the education, nonprofit, and philanthropy sectors. Her experience in education includes several years as a public-school teacher, university instructor, afterschool program director, and as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco.  Danielle’s time as an educator working with students from under-resourced and immigrant families motivated her to take on program and leadership roles at education-focused nonprofit organizations. In 2002 she transitioned to working in philanthropy and spent more than a decade at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, where she developed grantmaking programs and communications strategies. During that time she actively pursued leadership experiences in philanthropy as a Council of Foundations Emerging Philanthropic Leader Fellow, the chair of the Metro DC Chapter of Hispanics in Philanthropy Funders’ Collaborative, and as a board member of the Taproot Foundation and Asian Americans Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.  She has been an outspoken voice challenging philanthropy to be inclusive, innovative, and intentional – principles that were very aligned with the vision of Gabriela Smith.

“Danielle possesses a unique combination of strengths and talents” said Smith. “She is a dynamic leader, deeply rooted in community, and very entrepreneurial when it comes to developing philanthropic programs and strategies.” The Crimsonbridge Foundation recognizes Danielle M. Reyes for her bold and exceptional leadership, her contributions to philanthropy, and her unwavering commitment to our work in Education, Leadership Development, and Capacity Building.

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Despite Pandemic, Latino Enrollment in Catholic Schools at an All Time High

40 students receive Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Hispanic Education Imperative Fund support

Bethesda, MD, September 29, 2020 – Through a unique collaboration of education partners called the Hispanic Education Imperative, 40 Hispanic* students will receive partial scholarships for the 2020-21 school year to obtain a quality education at six high schools and one elementary school in the Archdiocese of Washington.  Launched in 2016 by the Crimsonbridge Foundation, the initiative brings the collective strengths of Crimsonbridge, the Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Schools Office, and the Latino Student Fund to expand Hispanic family access to Catholic schools and improve educational outcomes for Latino students.

The Archdiocese of Washington encompasses 91 schools, pre-kindergarten through high school, and serves about 26,000 students. This makes them the largest non-public school system in the Greater Washington region. 

Crimsonbridge Foundation Executive Director Danielle M. Reyes, states, “Many Hispanic families are interested in the academic environment and graduation rates of Catholic Schools, yet there is a significant disparity in their enrollment numbers.”   – In the U.S. approximately 60% of Catholics under the age of eighteen identify as Hispanic, but only 17% of students who attend Catholic schools are Hispanic. “Through this partnership we are closing the gap in this region.”

Indeed, the Catholic Schools Office has seen positive growth since it identified Hispanic enrollment and engagement as a priority for the Archdiocese of Washington five years ago.  With encouragement and support from Bishop Mario Dorsonville, the Foundation’s team partnered with the Catholic Schools Office to develop a variety of complimentary strategies to achieve this goal.  In 2016, Crimsonbridge created and launched the Hispanic Education Imperative, which has invested $1.2 million in innovative linguistic, cultural, and professional development strategies in addition to scholarships.

The Hispanic Education Imperative Fund, a financial component of this comprehensive initiative, provides partial scholarships for new Hispanic students to attend Catholic schools of their choice. It also connects students to another partner, the Latino Student Fund, a regional nonprofit that administers the Fund,  walks with families through the private school application process and offers students robust academic support and college preparation programs.  Since 2016, the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund has awarded more than $550,000 in partial scholarships, which have supported 85 students.

“The Hispanic Education Imperative Fund is one piece of a larger initiative that goes beyond scholarship assistance to increase Hispanic enrollment in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington,” Crimsonbridge Foundation Program Officer Caitlin Mayo shares. “We are taking a multi-pronged, whole community approach that includes linguistic and cultural capacity building and collaboration with principals, teachers, pastors, families, and students.”

This academic year, Crimsonbridge has awarded $120,000 in partial scholarships through the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund.

*Latino and Hispanic are used interchangeably for the purposes of this article.  


About the Crimsonbridge Foundation: The Crimsonbridge Foundation is an entrepreneurial philanthropic organization that works across sectors to innovate, invest in, and create transformative solutions in education, leadership development, and capacity building to help our nation’s youth, families, and nonprofits succeed.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Abigail Galván at agalvan@crimsonbridge.org or 301-458-6000.

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Innovative Outreach for the 2020 Census

Caitlin Furey Mayo August 2020

For more than 50 years, Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) has offered multi-cultural, comprehensive, and innovative programs that address youths’ social, academic, and career needs.  As an organization with deep knowledge, established relationships, and expertise working with multi-lingual immigrant communities, LAYC is uniquely positioned to increase participation of typically underrepresented groups in the 2020 Census in the Greater Washington region. 

In early 2019, LAYC crafted a plan for census outreach that would leverage one of their most innovative programs – the Teen Center Media Program.  After researching the impact completing the census would have in their community, DC youth worked in LAYC’s Media Arts Lab to develop bilingual outreach material on census facts and myths and executed an outreach campaign in DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood.  When the COVID-19 crisis erupted in the spring, community organizations all over the country were forced to adjust their census outreach plans, many of which rely significantly on in-person networking and education.

In mid-March, the media program transitioned to a virtual platform and LAYC staff focused their efforts on the immediate, food, rent, technology, and mental health needs of the community.  Youth in the media program continued to meet virtually after school hours to learn graphic design skills. Many youth completed the work directly through their phones as they did not have computers.

As Lupi Quinteros-Grady, LAYC President & CEO, reflects on the last few months, she says “It is critical that our youth continue to be engaged and exposed to learning. More than ever, we must be intentional about ensuring our youth are connected and engaged so they can have a sense of community, support, belonging, and a safe space to learn and grow with their peers. The Teen Center Media Program has been one of these spaces for our young people.”

Youth designed bi-lingual census flyers to place in grocery bags that are delivered weekly to LAYC families. LAYC staff and youth worked to address the new challenges to completing the 2020 Census and even added podcasts to their digital outreach strategies.  Recorded by LAYC youth, podcast episodes focused on how the census intersects with race and immigration.  In the episodes, youth interviewed each other as well as people in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.  When asked, “Why is the census important to you?,” one youth participant shared her understanding of how the census will impact her community: “The census determines how much funding public facilities such as schools and medical centers in certain areas receive. Schools such as mine need funding to modernize and increase the quantity of materials like laptops and textbooks. Old laptops make it hard to get work done quickly and old textbooks don’t always have up-to-date and accurate information.” The interviews also highlighted the challenges that arise when completing the census, including difficulty navigating questions on race and ethnicity, as well as perceptions of fear and mistrust in the process.  Several youth participants shared that they had encouraged their parents to complete the census online and helped them through that process. 

Amidst novel and challenging circumstances, LAYC Teen Center staff and youth not only creatively kept media arts programming and their sense of community alive, they effectively elevated youth voices in “getting out the count” for the 2020 Census.  With the current self-response rate at just over 60%, we must all do our part between now and September 30th to ensure that every person in the country is counted.    

Listen to LAYC’s 2020 Census podcast episodes here!

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Latinos’ Degree Completion Has Increased but Acceleration Is Still Needed to Close Equity Gaps

Washington, D.C. –  On August 12, 2020, community partner, Excelencia in Education, released new research and benchmarks to close equity gaps in Latino education attainment and to ensure Latino student success in higher education. Latinos make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population. This number is projected to increase in the coming years. If the U.S. is to have a competitive workforce and robust civic body, increasing college completion rates for Latinos is critical.

Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, shared that Crimsonbridge supported this analysis because it, “provides valuable data and resources, and creates the opportunity for funders, policy makers, and higher education leaders to take action towards increasing and supporting college student success.”

The research analyzed the top Latino enrolling and graduating institutions at the national and state level (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico).  Excelencia has been analyzing and releasing information on Latino college completion rates since 2009. They are excited to break down the data to assess results from two- and four-year institutions separately for the first time this year.

In addition to making the research available for free online, Excelencia will host a webinar on September 2, 2020 to discuss the implications of the research and to share a tactical plan for institutions to close the equity gap in education attainment and reach the goal of Latinos earning 6.2 million degrees by 2030. To register, click here.

Read the full article: Latinos’ Degree Completion Has Increased but Acceleration Is Still Needed to Close Equity Gaps

Read the Latino College Completion US-National Fact Sheet. For the complete findings, click here.

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How Organizations Can Support College Students in their Return to Campus

Robyn Attebury Ellis August 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended higher education and is posing unique challenges for nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping first-generation college students succeed. Organizations continue to show courage and creativity as they adapt to meet new challenges and provide timely support for the students and families they serve. In June, the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative partners – the Scheidel Foundation, the Crimsonbridge Foundation,  Capital Partners for Education, College Success Foundation DC, Generation Hope, New Futures, CollegeTracks, and Collegiate Directions – met virtually to brainstorm and share strategies to support college students’ return to campus during the pandemic.  

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Crimsonbridge Founder, Gabriela Smith, Recognized in Washington Life’s Philanthropic 50

July 2020

Each year, Washington Life Magazine recognizes the philanthropists and philanthropic foundations that are making an exemplary difference in the Greater Washington region. This year, Crimsonbridge Foundation Founder & President Gabriela Smith, was recognized for her innovative approach to philanthropy through the work of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.

We are happy to share with you the full interview below.

Education, Gabriela Smith believes, is the pathway toward racial and economic justice. Smith created the Crimsonbridge Foundation to focus on education, leadership development, and non-profit capacity building, with a particular lens towards serving the Hispanic community in a tribute to Smith’s own formation and heritage.

“It was thanks to scholarships that I was able to advance my education,” she says. Hispanics are expected to account for 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2060. “These will be our future service providers and career professionals, our future leaders, scientists and inventors, and this is the generation that we need to help educate now,” she added. Smith is proud of the impact she and her team have already demonstrated in the foundation’s short five year history.

An anonymous donor for many years, Smith was a founding investor in Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), the organization that utilizes a business approach to giving. As she put it in a recent interview, “VPP helped develop best practices for investing in the social sector, and, with this, the importance of outcome measurements and results.” Smith is also a former member of Georgetown University’s board of regents and of the Harvard Kennedy School’s dean’s council, her alma mater.

This interview appears in the July 2020 Edition of Washington Life Magazine.

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Abigail Galván Joins Crimsonbridge as Communications and Program Officer

June 2020

Washington, DC – The Crimsonbridge Foundation welcomes Abigail Galván as its new Communications and Program Officer.  Since its inception, Crimsonbridge has invested in and advocated for the key role that communications plays in amplifying impact and helping advance an organization’s mission. Galván, who most recently served as the Religious Freedom Institute’s Development Director, will lead the foundation’s internal communications, while also working to support the foundation’s innovative communications capacity building programs, which focus on increasing effective and inclusive bilingual and Spanish language communications for nonprofits and schools. She will also work to design and initiate new programming to increase Hispanic community engagement and Spanish language communications with parishes.

In her most recent position at the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), Galván was critical in helping launch the start-up and establishing the systems and relationships necessary to set it up for long term success. As Development Director she worked closely with RFI’s Communications Director to develop the institute’s tone, messaging, and branding in order to communicate its impact to diverse audiences and stakeholders.

Prior to joining RFI, she helped devise, finance, and launch the Bethlehem Museum for Heritage and Culture as the special program coordinator of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation. Galván has also had the privilege of participating as a region IV delegate in the V Encuentro, a significant ecclesial process by which bishops come together with the Hispanic/Latino community to interpret and to project into the future the Hispanic/Latino identity, presence, needs, and contributions to the Church and to U.S. society as a whole. Since the process, she has been involved with the execution of the strategies and recommendations from the V Encuentro and looks forward to continuing this work in a professional capacity at Crimsonbridge.

“The foundation has been intentional about building a team rich in nonprofit work and leadership experience” says Danielle M. Reyes, executive director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation. “Abigail’s interests and impressive background are remarkably aligned with the foundation’s programs and mission.”

Galván, who resides in Washington, DC, received her bachelor’s degree in International Politics with a concentration in International Law, Norms, and Institutions from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She is also a proud scholar of the Georgetown Scholarship Program, a community partner program of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.


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FADICA-sponsored research identifies keys to Catholic parish vitality

Four key areas studied, eight characteristics identified

Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities June 2020

A COMMUNITY PARTNER PRESS RELEASE:
(Washington, DC) — Catholic parishes that are welcoming and missionary create real vitality in the life of the parish says a major new study titled, “Open Wide the Doors to Christ: A Study of Catholic Social Innovation for Parish Vitality.” The research was commissioned by FADICA, a unique peer network of philanthropists supporting Catholic activities, and conducted by Marti R. Jewell, D.Min. and Mark Mogilka, MSW, MA.

“Parishes with vitality send people out in service to others in the community, letting go of parochial barriers,” Dr. Jewell said.

“Without denying the challenging realities for many parishes, what we also found was hope-filled parishes, whole communities excited about their parish and their future,” said Mr. Mogilka.

“We are pleased to be releasing the findings of this timely study,” said Alexia Kelley, FADICA President & CEO. “Perhaps one outcome from this period of pandemic could be that as parishes begin to re-open, pastors and parish leaders equipped with the study’s findings might find life-giving strategies relevant to their own context,” said Kelley.

FADICA’s member Working Group on Church Vitality focused on how Catholic social innovation might foster vitality in U.S. Catholic parishes.  In 2018, FADICA produced a groundbreaking study titled, Catholic Social Innovation in the Global Refugee Crisis.  This second study on parish vitality further articulates the concept of Catholic social innovation.

FADICA’s working group chose to focus the research on best practices and innovation in four distinct areas: Welcoming, Young Adults, Lay and Religious Women in Leadership, and Hispanic Ministry. The research entailed a review of more than 200 initiatives, websites and books, and more than 65 interviews with pastoral leaders and innovators across the country.  The research team also explored more than 20 different metric tools designed to measure parish vitality.

“We believe there are amazing assets in the diversity of the Catholic community, said Gabriela Smith, President and Founder, Crimsonbridge Foundation, a funder of the study. “By learning from dioceses and parishes experiencing parish vitality in these four areas of focus, we can share and replicate successful practices and communication strategies that support active and inclusive parish communities,” she said.

Based on this in-depth study, the report highlights seven key characteristics which together generate vitality in Catholic parishes, as follows:

  • Innovation. Pastoral leaders engage in a variety of innovative processes to address difficult challenges they face.  Use of digital tools like the parish website and social media are considered important ways to connect with people, especially young adults.
    • Have excellent pastors. These pastors have a desire, qualities and skills to work collaboratively and co-responsibly with staff and parish leaders. 

    “One of the most important findings is that pastors need to be ‘relational’ in every sense of the word,” said Jewell. “They need to be adaptive and open to new ways of doing things and being relational can be a learned skill,” she said.

    • Have leadership teams. The essential contribution of lay leaders – both staff and volunteers, share responsibility for the life of the parish with the pastor. 

    “Pastors realize that they can’t do it all and they need a team,” said Mogilka.  “In parishes with much vitality, we found pastors who are collaborative, servant-pastoral leaders who know how to identify gifts and talents, to affirm those gifts and talents and to empower lay people,” Mogilka said.  

    • Possess a holistic, compelling vision. Pastoral leaders have a vision for parish life that includes engaging in relational ministry, fostering authentic relationships within the parish community.
    • Place priority on Sunday experience.  An importance is placed on gathering for Sunday Mass to hear God’s Word, celebrate and share the Eucharist, and being sent forth in service.
    • Foster spiritual growth and maturity.  A variety of entry points are provided for all people to build their relationship with Jesus that sustains them on their journey.
    • Live the faith in service. Parishes live out the call to form missionaries by enabling parishioners to meet the spiritual and human needs of the marginalized, hungry and homeless; and to care for our communities and creation.
    • Utilize online communications tools. The parish website is the doorway – the first place people “check out” the parish. Good, interactive, and culturally sensitive websites are critical, as well as the proper use of social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

    Researchers Jewell and Mogilka studied the four specific areas of parish life selected by the FADICA working group and drew these conclusions:

    Welcoming Parishes.  Not surprising, parishes with vitality have a welcoming spirit and are intentional about the “process of welcoming,” starting with trained greeters, identifying special opportunities to publicly welcome newcomers, e.g., at weddings, baptisms and funerals, outreach and invitation initiatives found on the parish website and offered via social ministry.

    Young Adults.  Keys to engaging this group of parishioners include really listening to young adults, building relationships and responding to their needs, ensuring that young adults are integrated into the leadership groups at the parish, paying attention to the engaged and married couples and young families, and using social media and personal contact to build relationships.

    Women and Women Religious in Leadership. Parishes with vitality hire lay and women religious at all levels of leadership responsibility, support and affirm their leadership and ensure balanced representation by women and men on councils and committees. The researchers encouraged bishops to deploy Canon 517.2, which allows the appointment of “deacons and others who are not priests” to provide pastoral care of parishes in cases when there is a shortage of priests. The study pointed out that over 3,300 parishes lack a resident priest, but the number of dioceses using this option is declining.

    Hispanic Ministry.  Parish diversity is seen as a grace for parishes with vitality.  Pastoral leaders are sensitive to the variety of cultures present, provide cultural sensitivity training for staff and volunteers, offer bi-lingual liturgies, as well as printed and digital materials, and specific devotions and celebrations for feast days for the entire community.

    “The recommendations of the parish vitality study are practical, relevant, and speak directly to the success that investments in communications capacity building can have towards building thriving, inclusive, and engaged parish communities,” said Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director, Crimsonbridge Foundation.

    “The pandemic has really caused pastors and parish leaders to stretch themselves and to be open to new ways of doing things,” said Jewell. 

    The study concluded that parishes with vitality are open to listening and designing new and creative ways to respond to the changing culture with enthusiasm, intentional hospitality, and who welcome diversity as a grace.  To read the Executive Summary, click here. To read the full report, click here.

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    Media Contact
    Tom Gallagher
    Religion Media Company
    (203) 561-3585 / tleogallagher@gmail.com

    About FADICA
    Since its establishment in 1976, FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities) has become the leading philanthropic peer network which serves as a catalyst for a vital Catholic Church, Catholic ministries, and the common good. The organization promotes the growth and effectiveness of Catholic philanthropy inspired by the joy of the Gospel and the Catholic social tradition.  For more information on FADICA, see www.fadica.org.

    About the Researchers
    Marti R. Jewell, D.Min. Dr. Marti R. Jewell, Associate Professor Emerita, served as an associate professor of pastoral theology in the Neuhoff School of Ministry at the University of Dallas and was named the University’s 2017 “Michael A. Haggar Scholar.” She directed the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project, a national research initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment designed to study excellence in parish leadership, and was a diocesan director in the Archdiocese of Louisville. Her books include Navigating Pastoral Transitions: A Parish Leaders’ Guide, The Changing Face of Church, and The Next Generation of Pastoral Leaders. She received the Called and Gifted Award from the Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry for her contributions to the field of lay ecclesial ministry, and the Lumen Gentium award from the Conference for Pastoral Planners and Council Development for her work and research with parishes and pastoral leaders. She continues to write, consult, and teach. Dr. Jewell holds a doctorate from the Catholic University of America.

    Mark Mogilka, MSW, MA Mark Mogilka serves as Senior Consultant for Meitler, a Church planning and management consulting firm located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Prior to his retirement from diocesan ministry in June 2017, Mogilka served for 42 years in diocesan office ministries in three dioceses and served seven different bishops. He has master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin and Religious Studies from the University of Detroit. He has done workshops, consulting and planning projects in over 60 different dioceses in the United States and Canada and continues to serve the Church as a workshop presenter, pastoral researcher and consultant. He co-authored a book entitled “Pastoring Multiple Parishes.” In 2007 he received the Yves Congar Award for “extraordinary service, initiative, creativity and sharing” from the Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development. In 2017 he was given the Rev. Louis J Luzbetak Award by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University “for exemplary church research”.

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