St Bernard’s Advice – How to Run a Catholic Apostolate

You and I both know how successful St Bernard of Clairvaux was in doing the will of God – founded numerous monasteries, composed many written works, advised Popes, and helped reform the Benedictine order.

Today, he is a household name among Catholics.

He also offered wisdom to anyone wanting to launch an apostolate.

This advice is especially pertinent to anyone wanted to run an apostolate and fundraise. Check it out:

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The Practice of Christian and Religious Perfection – Fr Alphonsus Rodriguez – free digital copy | print copy | Amazon link

Additional Vlog: Saint Bernard’s advice to Catholics who fundraise

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Question: Which saint, Catholic document, or Church teaching has given you great advice on how to raise funds? Please leave your comment below.


Today we’re going to be looking at three recommendations from Saint Bernard on how to run an effective Catholic apostolate.

Welcome, my fellow Catholics, to, the podcast, vlog, and website 100% dedicated to helping Catholics — just like you — with their fundraising. So whether you’re starting out or you’re just looking for new ideas and you’re already on the path to raising what you need, you’re still going to get some great tips today, specifically from Saint Bernard, on how to run an apostolate and how to connect that with your fundraising. 

Now, before we dive in, let us make sure that you download absolutely for free my book, The 10 Commandments of Catholic Fundraising, which outlines 10 actions that I’ve been taking over the course of practically a decade of fundraising, that have made fundraising successful for me. It’s also my compilation of a lot of great advice from other successful Catholic apostolates and fundraisers. So please make sure that you download my book, absolutely for free. Just click the link below.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux was a French monk who, during the 12th century revitalized Benedictine monasticism through the Order of the Cistercians. So a very famous French Saint (and bestowed, in 1830 by Pope Pius VIII, as Doctor of the Church).  He was a prolific author, including outlining the Rule of the Knights of Templar, devout Mariologist, and had deep Benedictine roots.s The Benedictines are really good at structure, order, and getting things done. 

So here are three steps you should take. A Catholic apostolate, run correctly, will rarely have issues with fundraising. So that’s why we’re looking at, how do you run it? And how is it going to improve your fundraising? Well, if you run your apostolate correctly, more likely than not, you’re going to do very well with fundraising, just because they go hand-in-hand.

I’m reading this great book, The Practice of Christian and Religious Perfection, by Father Alphonsus Rodrigues, written several hundred years ago but he was a really smart guy. I’ll put a link to this book as well, as he references a lot of saints, and today I’m looking at Saint Bernard. 

First off, Saint Bernard references the parable of the talents (a talent was a measure of gold or silver, roughly weighing the same as a person), specifically Luke 19:12-27. The master summons 10  of his servants and gives out 10 gold coins (talents), telling them to engage in trade with the money until he returns. So, the parable of the gold talents, as we know, is about risk/reward, and how every step should take you from good to better to best. That God has given you talents. God has given you “coins.” You’ve got to know what to do with them. Saint Bernard references this as a constant exchange, in trading in the gifts God gives you. Don’t worry so much about what you don’t have. Be “engaged in trade” with the things that God is giving you today. It’s really, really important with fundraising that you use whatever “coin” you have right now to execute, execute, execute. That’s point number one 

Point number two from Saint Bernard is to have great care in promoting your industry as a business person would. Saint Bernard talks about never losing an opportunity to gain in virtue and holiness. We often hear about the greed of money. In today’s world, we look around, people are racing for money, status, power, physical goods. We see it all over the place. Meanwhile, Saint  Bernard is saying that your commitment to your work must outpace that of such merchants and business people, and day-to-day people, in that (obviously) we’re not going for what they are hunting for but you should be as fastidious and full throttle in your intent with things of virtue (as they are in greedy business). You and your apostolate have a mission: You’ve got to go as full throttle (or more) than people who are going in the wrong direction. So number one, you’ve got to focus on doing what you have. Remember the parable of the talents. Use the coins God has already given you. Then secondly, you’ve got to take your talents and work harder to turn them into “currency” than other business people.

The third point that Saint Bernard makes is, do not let worldly men be more earnest than you. This is again a reference to point number two, but I thought this was a great quote, so I wanted to set this out specifically as one of the recommendations. Saint Bernard says, ‘They run faster to death than we do to life.’ I’m going to repeat that. They run faster to death than we do to life. We can’t let them run faster in the wrong direction. And we are in the right direction. So rather than just pointing a figure at the finger at all the bad that you see around us, you have to remember to run faster. You’ve got to run faster. You’ve got to make them, in their meaningless pursuits, look lazy in comparison. 

You’ve got all the resources you need to put all this together. God has already given you your talents. It’s a recipe for success with fundraising. And if you go to my website, there are more articles on how to incorporate what we’ve learned today into your fundraising. 

I hope that you found this helpful. Share this with a friend. Share this with an apostolate or nonprofit that you think might benefit. Thank you so much for your attention. God love you and I look forward to speaking with you next week.

Want to fundraise more for your Catholic apostolate?

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Click here to subscribe


Brice was born and raised Catholic. After enjoying a successful career in technology consulting with Accenture and PriceWaterhouseCoopers in cities across the United States (Dallas, San Francisco, Paris, Abu Dhabi, and London) around the world, he left it to help his Catholic diocese in London, England with a fundraising campaign. The campaign went on to raise over $60 million, the largest sum ever raised for the diocese and in the United Kingdom.

Learning from professional fundraisers, he figured out the basics and then left the diocese to focus on what he loves most: building Catholic charities that change the culture, save lives, and save souls.

Brice currently lives in Texas and travels the world helping Catholics fundraise. This website is where he shares what he is doing and how he is raising funds for Catholic causes and missions. That way you can move more quickly with your next appeal.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Mother Mary and Saint Joseph, protect us as we announce the good news of God's beloved Son, Jesus Christ.