These notes accompany the first annual accounts for the Food For Faith Charitable Trust, formed in July 2021.
The Trustees, Merv Duffy SM, Chris Fogarty and Catherine Gibbs appreciate that FFF has until now been a spare-time hobby of Fr. John O’Connor. Early last year a turning-point was reached with John’s awareness of the need for such digital ‘food for the faith’ for people who might struggle to find good local spiritual nourishment for their faith. John had also come to see that for the mission to grow and develop he needed more support, especially from those who understood online missions and who had the I.T. skills to make it happen. John was wanting to commit more of his own time and energy to the production of regular content, rather than spend time trying to master the complicated world of computer programs.
The formation of the Food For Faith Trust has achieved John’s hope, and with the financial support of many generous donors our first year has seen more growth and a new interest from subscribers across Aotearoa as well as a good following in Australia, North America, across Asia (especially Philippines) and in Europe.
Our first year was marked with a couple of new ventures (most notably the weekly Homily Studio and daily Lectio Divina), but also with a caution as we juggle the expansion of the mission with the necessary administrative requirements and financial expenses. Setting up the donation and receipting system this year saw a couple of hiccups and an unfortunate delay, but now with good structures and systems in place we are ready for the new year and new initiatives.
The notes below will give you an insight into our 2021-2022 operations, with some explanation of how your donations have been used. (Figures have been rounded to nearest ten.)
On a couple of occasions people have asked us what is needed to ensure that FFF not only continues but grows to reach even more people. John has always answered that your prayer and promotion is needed, with mention of the mission’s need for financial support. As the Food For Faith Trustees, responsible for all administrative aspects of the Trust including making sure that finances are available for the mission, we ask your prayer, your promotion, and your financial support.
Thank you to all who have given so generously in the past year. Now we ask that you continue to give generously. Thank you especially to those who have committed to contributing regular amounts monthly. If you are in a position to give a more substantial amount to the Food For Faith mission this would help us greatly in planning for the months ahead. Please contact John directly if you would like to discuss this.
Seasons of Advent/ Lent and other daily blogs
Four years ago, after seven years of a couple of posts each week FFF introduced daily reflections for Lent and Advent. These were immediately popular, and within a short time more than 2000 daily emails were being sent to those who subscribed, with more signing up each week.
Homily Studio weekly podcasts
In August 2022 FFF introduced a new initiative aimed at providing good resources for preachers, and others seeking to appreciate the liturgy readings for each Sunday. From a team of 16 people, (parents, theologians, women and men, single people and married), three or four of these spend half an hour in conversation producing a podcast which is available every week on all major platforms (Spotify, Apple, Pod bean etc.) These podcasts are followed by several hundred preachers and others in several countries, and at times have been used by parish liturgy committees in their liturgy preparation, by people for support of their personal prayer, and at times listened to by a full congregation in the absence of a preacher!
Lectio Divina daily prayer podcasts
While ongoing finance is required for the Lectio Divina platform, most of the daily work in recording the gospel is carried out by John.
Rosary promotion and video
In October to mark the month of the Rosary, FFF offered daily reflections on the twenty mysteries of the Rosary. A generous donor enabled us to offer and distribute 20,000 sets of Rosary beads, and to produce a promotional video. This was an ambitious undertaking which met with a significant positive response from individuals, groups and especially schools. View Mary: the power of prayer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3NTkX7bahg&ab_channel=foodforfaith
The total expenditure for these activities is $2,250
Website monitoring, technological support and hardware
The use of the Screenweave IT company has enabled the FFF website to host a greater variety of digital ministries, Mailchimp to manage the growing email subscription lists, Website maintenance and back-up (earlier when the website failed it might take days to correct, now just minutes).
We all know that digital resources are costly, and essential for computer users. The move to more audio FFF resources (Lectio Divina, Interviews and Homily Studio) has required the purchase of some hardware, especially for John’s use.
The total expenditure for these items is $11,850
Administration for the Trust
With the growth of the FFF mission and the requirements of our Charitable Trust status administration is necessary to ensure that all Trust and administrative aspects are attended to including data entry, emails, phone, research, minutes, receipting, postal, basic accounts, letters, payments.
After realising the enthusiasm that so many people have for the FFF mission, and their desire to see the mission grow and develop, we made a commitment to providing the FFF Administrator with hardware and software thus setting up a permanent administration structure. The purchase of a computer and software was a significant one-off expense. Other miscellaneous costs (occasional coffee/food), postage, printing/stationery, domain name, bank fees etc will be small but regular.
The total expenditure for these items is $9,580
The FFF Trustees appreciate that John is the prime provider of content and needs access to ongoing formation and resources. Among support for John in recent months has been our contribution to his 30-day retreat expenses in November last year and part payment (along with Christchurch diocese and National Liturgy Office) of a FFF share of his Professional Supervision.
A number of subscriptions are required as resources for the FFF mission. These include monthly subscriptions to iCloud storage; Dropbox monthly; Amazon books; Universalis for Lectio Divina scriptures; Zoom; Microsoft; Apple.
The total expenditure for these items is $5,980
As we near the end of our first FFF Trust year we note that some accommodation and travel expenses associated with the provision of parish and school retreats, mission and seminars were unexpected and in previous years were personally covered by John. An example is when a parish or school is unable to cover the full travel (and associated expense) cost for a retreat. The Trustees seek to ensure that John is not out-of-pocket for these ministries, and in future will ensure that parishes and schools cover all expenses associated with their use of FFF missions.
Living expenses for a diocesan priest (food, housing, stipend) are covered by his diocese with income received from the parish or chaplaincy in which he ministers. Following the formation of the FFF Trust in July 2021 it was appropriate that FFF contribute for John’s FFF mission which takes approximately ten percent of his time, alongside diocesan priestly presence and National Liturgy office work. This will be a regular contribution allowing John to give more of his time to the FFF mission. ($8,000)
The total expenditure for these items is $8,240
The trustees are pleased with the support they have received from all donors over the past twelve months. Those donations have meant that the vision of the Trust and the Food For Faith mission has been able to not only be sustained but grow in a positive direction. We are hopeful that with the donors ongoing support that the Trust’s mission will continue to evolve over the next twelve month period. If you have any questions about this content please contact one of the Trustees.
Ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou – Warm wishes to you all.
Fr Merv Duffy SM
Food For Faith Trustees
20 July 2022