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Orange Catholic Foundation responds to LA Times article

Let me begin by thanking all of you for your philanthropic support throughout the years, especially during one of the most trying times in recent history as we respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Be assured of my daily prayers and may the Holy Spirit continue to inspire us each day as we pray for those affected and for those in medical research to find a path forward for our communities and world.

It is with great sadness that I write to you today in response to an article that appeared in today’s L.A. Times, which falsely insinuates that Bishop Vann removed members of The Orange Catholic Foundation (OCF) Board of Directors because the Diocese was not permitted to use OCF granted funds improperly, including to pay for sexual abuse related lawsuits. As the acting Executive Director of OCF I can state for the record that, after my review of the situation, Bishop Vann and the Diocese made it clear that OCF was to comply with all donor intentions and restrictions in connection with any grants, and OCF did not and would not provide funds for any improper purpose in violation of donors’ intentions or in excess of donor and fund restrictions.

The OCF has been and remains an independent charitable foundation. The Board of Directors of OCF, acting under its fiduciary duties to the Foundation, oversees all aspects the Foundation, including the hiring and firing of the Executive Director and all other staff and consultants. It approves the annual budget. It has an audit committee, an investment committee, and an internal controller to ensure independent oversight of grants and expenditures and endowment investments and disbursements as dictated at all times by donor intent.

Moreover, OCF is governed by its own Bylaws and by applicable laws, including the laws of the State of California. Moreover, it has standing in the Catholic Church as a pious, autonomous, private juridic person “ordered for a purpose which is in keeping with the mission of the Church and which transcends the purpose of the individuals” (canon 114 §1 of the Code of Canon Law). As such, OCF acts to fulfill the philosophy, purpose and objectives of the mission of OCF, its fundraising priorities and objectives, and it does so in support of the Diocese of Orange, its mission, ministries, pastors and parishes and schools.

Recently, the Bishop exercised his authority as Ordinary by removing prior members of the OCF Board and a new Board was appointed on June 19, 2020. I am confident that replacing the prior Board members was not, as the newspaper article implied, connected to any disappointments on the Bishop’s behalf in funds granted or not granted to the Diocese by OCF.

The new members of the OCF Board are as follows:

Mr. Tom Greeley, Chairman of the Board
Mr. Richard Crawford, Vice-Chairman of the Board
Mr. Mark Doyle, Secretary
Mr. Michael Murphy, Treasurer and Chair Audit Committee
Reverend Edward Becker, Pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, La Habra
Very Reverend E. Scott Borgman, J.C.D. Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Orange
Mrs. Mary Brunson, St. Thomas More Church, Irvine
Ms. Lucy Dunn, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, Irvine
Mrs. Susan Strader, Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, Newport Beach
Reverend Bao Quoc Thai, Pastor, St. Cecilia Church, Tustin
James Normandin, Interim Director, The Orange Catholic Foundation
Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Diocese of Orange

The new Board immediately began to act on the series of initiatives that have needed focused attention for some time, including creating a Strategic Plan for the Foundation. The next regularly scheduled Board meeting is September 16, 2020, and the Board will be reviewing the progress toward achieving a common purpose, strategic alignment and the fulfillment of the philosophy, purpose and objectives of the mission of OCF and of fundraising priorities that will support its beneficiaries. The Board also immediately initiated a formal search for a permanent Executive Director, interviews are underway and qualified candidates are being identified. The Board also reviewed and approved The Orange Catholic Foundation Audit, which was recently completed by Withum Smith and Brown LP – again all part of the independence and independent oversight of OCF.

Finally, I’d like to express my gratitude for your support of the Catholic Emergency Response Fund for parishes in need and for your generosity towards the Pastoral Services Appeal (PSA). To date, even in these difficult times, PSA is at approximately 90% of its goal – a tremendous success by any standard. Our thanks to all of you who have given so generously to the PSA. It is never taken for granted.

This article was written by James F. Normandin, Acting Executive Director, Orange Catholic Foundation.