This past weekend I visited the Institute of Notre-Dame de Vie, a worldwide group of laypersons and diocesan priests who strive to bear witness to Christ while fulfilling the duties of their professions and ministries. The insitute itself is based outside the town of Venasque in Provence, France.
Father Marie-Eugene of the Child of Jesus founded the institute in 1932 to spread the teachings of the Carmelite saints, particularly Saint Therese of Lisieux, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Saint John of the Cross. Himself a Carmelite, he traveled the world and wrote books (his most famous book is, I Want to See God – click the link to check it out), spreading the charisma of these great saints and religious order.
My Trip to Notre Dame de Vie (and bump-in with 2 nuns!)
Fr Marie-Eugene was so popular that Pope Pius XII made him an Apostolic Visitor (a papal representative). Within the Carmelite Order, he was elected Definitor General (the head honcho) for seven years. With all these high-profile positions, there is no doubt this monk was doing God’s work.
He was beatified by Pope Francis in 2016.
I speak about Fr Marie-Eugene because I am interested in how Catholics like him did so much in their life. His story is particularly incredible because he lived at a time when his country overcame two world wars.
As a fundraiser, I find that saints offer us the best examples for how to follow God and inspire others to support us. The saints give us reference points on how to achieve the impossible.
During my visit, I asked myself, “How was Fr Marie-Eugene able to do all of this, impacting the world with his Catholic faith?” Three lessons came to mind which can help you move forward with your ideas, goals, and fundraising.
Lesson 1: Take action and keep moving forward
Fr Marie-Eugene was a man of action. He became a Carmelite late in life (28 years old) because he had to put his religious life on pause to participate in World War I. During the hiatus, he was inspired by the great Carmelites (John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of the Child of Jesus) who helped him grow in his contemplative life.
After the war, he traveled throughout France and attended seminaries for becoming a priest and then a Carmelite.
His mentality was to keep going, especially during difficult times, both physically and spiritually, would undoubtedly help him later as a Carmelite when founding the Institute.
Additional Resource: How to Keep Your Fundraising Going in Good and Bad Times
By the way, check out his phone. How old-school is that?
Lesson 2: Spread your message
Fr Marie-Eugene wrote, “I want to become a priest,” on many occasions and shared his dream with everyone around him. He wasn’t shy about what he wanted to do. When he eventually wanted to become a Carmelite, he told the people even though he knew they would disapprove. He was not going to be stopped.
This act of continually spreading his message would eventually catch like wildfire, spreading across his community, region, country, and ultimately the world.
Constant spreading your message is important because you cannot assume people will know what you want. You also cannot think they will remember. You have to keep telling them. Eventually, with the help of providence, your idea catches on, and people want to support your work.
Additional Resource: How to Spread Your Message and Reach Potential Donors
Lesson 3: Be attentive and listen
Fr Marie-Eugene wanted to spread Carmelite spirituality across the world, but he knew that he could not do it alone.
Though he was a man of action, he was also a man that watched who God placed in front of him. God brought people into his life in the oddest circumstances. If Fr Marie-Eugene had not noticed them, he might have never met the people who helped him found the Institute of Notre Dame de Vie.
When looking for funding and resources, you can focus too much on your work that you don’t watch who God places in your life.
To be successful at fundraising means paying attention to the people that God brings in your life. It’s unlikely you will receive a check in the mail for a million dollars. You will however meet the people who will want to help you move forward. You have to pay attention as Fr Marie-Eugene did to know when these people show up.
Additional Resource: How to Find the People Who Will Support You
Conclusion – Take action, share your message, and be attentive
God is calling you to do something beyond what you think you are capable. You may be unsure how to do it, but I recommend following in the footsteps of Blessed Fr Marie-Eugene. Keep moving forward. Share your message consistently with everyone around you.
Keep moving forward. Share your message consistently with everyone around you.
Be attentive to who God puts in your life.
By doing these three actions, you will move forward with your fundraising and gather the resources to move you forward.