St. Mary’s Catholic School Bolstered by Endowment Gift

St. Mary’s Catholic School Bolstered by Endowment Gift

Pictured Above: Father Sebastian Kavumkal and Deacon Romeo Cappella celebrated the Feast of Saint Blaise by blessing the throats of students at St. Mary Catholic School.

St. Mary’s Catholic School (SMCS), in Sault Ste. Marie, received a wonderful Christmas gift this past December to its school endowment fund. St. Joseph Parish (Sault Ste. Marie) made a donation of $25,000 to the school’s SMCS Staff Support Endowment Fund.

St. Joseph Parish recently sold the former Nativity of Our Lord church building, which was closed in 1996. The sale was for $75,000 and St. Joseph’s finance council approved $25K from the sale to be given to SMCS.

Father Mike Chenier, pastor of St. Joseph, said, “That closing must have been such a trial for the parishioners who were part of that community. But, while it doesn’t take away the sadness of a closed parish, it does mean that the work that went into it was not in vain; that it continues to bear fruit and have meaning. This sad thing that happened is now transformed, years later, into a blessing for our students and teachers.”

The SMCS Staff Support Endowment fund was opened in 2018 with the Catholic School Endowment Challenge. SMCS school administrators were concerned that young, talented teachers often received 1-2 years of training at SMCS but then left the school for higher compensation in neighboring districts. By establishing the endowment fund, St. Mary’s hopes to secure long term financial stability to pay their teachers a better wage.

“It is our hope the staff support endowment will assist us in retaining new teachers and show our great appreciation of seasoned staff who love sharing their faith with the next generation of Catholics,” said SMCS principal Hedy Yanni. Since its establishment, more than 130 gifts have been made to the SMCS Staff Support Endowment Fund. A distribution from the fund last fall, along with a tuition adjustment, allowed for an increase to St. Mary’s teachers’ pay already this school year.

Nativity of our Lord Parish began as Algonquin Catholic Mission in 1934. In 1941, Bishop Francis J. Magner blessed and dedicated the newly built church. It was closed on July 1, 1996. The Church was sold to a well-known Upper Peninsula organization, Great Lakes Recovery Centers, which helps people to be free of addiction.

Terri Gadzinski, executive director of the Upper Peninsula Catholic Foundation, which manages endowment funds for all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Marquette, pointed out that “Donations to endowment funds are invested, so contributions made to the funds live on into perpetuity.” To make a donation to your favorite Catholic school endowment fund, visit the UPCF website at, or mail a check made out in the endowment’s name to: 1004 Harbor Hills Dr, Marquette, MI 49855.