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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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