ARCHDIOCESAN CORPUS FUND TO ASSIST DISADVANTAGED CATHOLIC FAMILIES TO MEET THEIR HEALTH CARE NEEDS
June 17, 2015
The creation of the Corpus Fund for St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore (the largest Catholic Institution in India), owned and managed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) turned out to be a grand success - the Fund that was started with just Rs. 1,000/- is today valued at Rs. 40 crores! Cardinal Ivan Dias asked Bishop Percy Fernandez, who was responsible for the setting up of the Corpus Fund, to start a similar fund for the Archdiocese of Bombay, to assist poor Catholic families to meet the massive hospital bills that they are faced with in Mumbai. The response was positive and the action immediate! A sum of Rs. 10,000 from the personal savings of one of the Bishops was deposited on March 1, 2006, and the Archdiocesan Corpus Fund was born!
The following statistics (as on June 11, 2015) prove that when a project, meant for the poor and the disadvantaged, is born from the heart, it is bound to succeed:
1. The total amount collected along with the interest received, to date, has crossed Rs. 10 crores. The number of Catholic families that have received financial help towards hospital bills, from the interest produced by this Corpus Fund, is 343.
2. One family, which needed Rs. 30 lakhs for medical treatment after an accident, was helped through this Fund with Rs. 5 lakhs. In another case, when a mother delivered triplets and the three little ones’ survival was in jeopardy, the Fund provided the family Rs. 3 lakhs toward the Specialist’s fee and all three lives were saved.
3. The minimum help given to a family through this Fund is Rs. 1,500/- and the maximum, Rs. 5,00,000/-.
4. As on June 11, 2015, over 47,000 personal appeals have been sent to Catholic Families belonging to the Archdiocese of Bombay, the Archdiocesan Bishops and over 300 Diocesan Priests. More than 5,100 of these have responded (and more are bound to respond!), some of them with extreme generosity: One family has already contributed Rs. 7,00,000/- and continues to send their further contribution every six months! Another family has contributed Rs. 4,40,000/- . Several families have contributed sums ranging from Rs.1,00,000/- to Rs. 2,00,000/-. More than 40 families and Diocesan Priests are multiple contributors to this Fund, with one family, possibly not financially well-off, sending Rs. 500/- every three to four months as assistance to this Project of the Archdiocese of Bombay!
5. This unique collection drive, with all the work involved in typiny personal letters to over 47,000 individuals, organizing the postage of these appeals and sending letters of gratitude to those who contribute, along with the official receipt from the Archdiocese, is done by one single person in an honorary capacity. Every contribution received must be accompanied by a declaration that the amount donated is meant for the Corpus Fund to assist the poor and disadvantaged families in their health care needs. If such an undertaking is not given and the identity and address of the donor is not available, the Corpus Fund regretfully declines to receive such donations.
6. Donation cheques are required to be endorsed to the Archdiocese of Bombay (families who have no bank accounts or prefer to give small donations by cash, are given official receipts by the Archdiocese of Bombay, and their donations are recorded in the Archdiocesan Finance Office, as cash-donations). These are verifiable at any time by the donors, Chartered Accountants and Income Tax officials. The Corpus Fund, as such, is exempt from tax, but the donors do not get tax exemption, at present, as we provide the benefit of this Scheme only to poor Catholic families. From the interest received each year, 85% has to be spent for the purpose of the Fund. 15% of the annual interest received is ploughed back into the Corpus Fund, assuring its growth and strength.
7. How do we ascertain that the assistance this Fund gives goes to the poor and the disadvantaged? Each parish/unit has a committee (consisting of the Parish Priest and 3 to 4 lay persons) that decides on authenticity of the person applying for aid and the amount of financial assistance that could be given. The Parish Priests and the Unit Heads send the following three documents to the Archdiocesan Finance Office along with the request for help after first having handed over the financial assistance to the needy family: (a) Minutes of the Committee deciding the assistance; (b) Copy of Hospital Bills; and (c) Receipt from the family that has received financial help from the parish. On receiving these documents, the Finance Office refunds 50% of the aid amount to the parish and, where advice is received from the Parish Priest that further assistance may be needed, the Corpus Fund steps in.
8. How does one contribute to this Fund for the poor? Write to Bp. Percival Fernandez, St. Pius X College, Aarey Road, Goregaon East, Mumbai 400 063, mentioning your name, address and parish in the Archdiocese of Bombay, expressing your desire to help (you can also get him on land-line: 2927 0929). You will then receive an Appeal, along with the Declaration Form which you have to attach to the cheque drawn in favour of THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY. Mail this to Bp. Percival Fernandez and you will promptly receive a receipt from the Archdiocese of Bombay, along with a letter of gratitude and a note on the help the Corpus Fund has been able to give to poor Catholic families because of your concern.
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