What good is a mission statement if it’s never followed?

For Oregon Catholic Press, the Catholic liturgical publisher with headquarters in Portland, the mission statement includes six tenets; two of which are “to serve the Catholic Church by providing financial support, to be used for religious, educational, and charitable purposes,” and “to conduct all of our activities in accordance with Christian ethical values, Catholic teachings, and sound financial management.”

It’s not surprising, then, that the publisher donates funds to Catholic communities all over the United States through its annual parish grants.

The program was established to provide Catholic churches with financial support for religious, educational and charitable purposes. Funds distributed are to be used for enhancing a parish's worship. Starting this year, applicants also include parishes in U.S. territories, as well as Catholic Newman centers on university campuses.

“I feel very proud of OCP for what we are able to do in terms of giving back very generously to the church,” said Wade Wisler, current publisher. “Unlike privately owned, for-profit publishers, OCP is a not-for-profit that is exclusively focused on serving the church. I’m not aware of any music publisher that gives back to the church the way OCP does. That's something we can all feel good about.”

Carol Percin, special projects administrator at OCP, leads the Parish Grants committee, helping sort through applications.

Applications are submitted online through OCP's website starting in January, with a closing date of May 30. Grantees are announced in July, with checks going out in the fall.

Since the project began more than two decades ago, OCP has provided grants adding up to more than $3.3 million.

“The amount of the grant request varies by parish, and OCP's ability to provide these grants is limited by its not-for-profit status. It is rewarding to know that even the most modest grant request can impact a parish's ability to enhance liturgy and music,” said Percin. “When they call or send letters to express their gratitude, you realize how even a small amount can make a significant difference in their ability to minister to their flock.”

Grants have been used for projects like enhancing bilingual services, replacing sound systems in parishes for those with hearing impairments, purchasing equipment for livestreaming and starting a youth choir.

“Watching this money make a difference in the life of the church is the greatest,” Percin said.

John Limb, publisher of OCP from 1992 to 2017, says the idea for the grants program began at a meeting of the OCP board of directors.

Someone pointed out that a majority of OCP's income is from parishes outside of Oregon, and yet almost all of the company's charitable giving (to the Archdiocese of Portland, the Diocese of Baker, Catholic Charities, Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary, Catholic Youth Organization, etc.) was within Oregon.

“It just seemed right that we should be doing something for the larger church and not just keeping all the proceeds within the state of Oregon,” said Limb.

It is not a requirement of parish grant applicants that they be OCP subscribers.

“Our donations to the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker help enable ministries in the local church and that's doing the work of the Gospel,” said Wisler. “For us, charitable giving is not only about supporting our customers, but the mission of the church overall.”

OCP also gives to churches across the United States in a different way, according to Lisa Bagladi, director of sales, parish services, and customer success at the company.

Whenever there is an event, whether it be natural disaster, fire, or flood, a representative from OCP reaches out to dioceses that are affected and when appropriate, replaces missals and hymnals for parishes, or gives out a charitable donation.

“Parishes often have insurance to replace anything that's lost, but we still reach out [whether they are an OCP parish or not] and ask if there is anything we can do.”

Most recently, in 2021 the company made a donation to the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana, after Hurricane Ida wiped out several churches there.

“It makes me feel good to work at OCP, where we can help facilitate generosity and do something to help out,” said Bagladi. “I think we're good stewards to the church in that way. I'm proud that we're able to do that and make a difference.”

DeBellis is former news editor of the Catholic Sentinel and currently managing editor of missals and periodicals at OCP.