GRAVESEND — When Patricia Faint attended Mass at Most Precious Blood Church in Gravesend on May 30, that day’s reading, from the Book of Sirach, struck a particular chord with her.
It read, “In a generous spirit pay homage to the Lord, be not sparing of freewill gifts. With each contribution show a cheerful countenance, and pay your tithes in a spirit of joy. Give to the Most High as He has given to you, generously, according to your means.”
“I try to live by that,” said Faint, a retired operations manager for Verizon who lives in Bensonhurst.
If you were to ask the folks at the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens, they would probably say she does more than try — she fully lives by it.
Putting her faith in action, Faint has established a $250,000 endowment for the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens to provide funding for children whose families need financial assistance to pay to send their children to Catholic school in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The Paul and Catherine Faint and Children Scholarship Endowment Fund, established in honor of Faint’s father Paul and mother Catherine and her siblings — Bobby, Paulie, Kathleen, and Mary Jane — will provide scholarships for 10 students a year.
The scholarships are administered by the organization Futures in Education through its “Be An Angel to a Student” program, which pays tuition for children from families in need. The two organizations, the Catholic Foundation and Futures in Education, work closely together.
“People give back because they believe that God has blessed them and they are thankful. Patricia Faint is one of those people,” said Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, vicar for development for the Diocese of Brooklyn and the head of Futures in Education.
Faint, a senior citizen who grew up in Clinton Hill, is a product of a Catholic education — having attended Sacred Heart School, Bishop McDonnell High School, and St. Joseph’s College for Women — and said she wanted to give that same opportunity to today’s youngsters.
“I know the value of a Catholic education,” she explained. “You can learn your ABCs anyplace. But what you learn in Catholic school is above and beyond. You learn something that no one can ever take away from you, like kindness, consideration, and humility. It’s an atmosphere of caring for the whole child.”
Faint decided to name the endowment after her late parents because she wanted to honor their memory. Paul and Catherine Faint served as examples to their five children by dint of their hard work and always encouraged their kids to help others.
“My father made a living as a mechanic. He worked in the streets. He always helped the Sisters of Mercy in our school. My mother was a homemaker. They raised five children and my grandmother lived with us. We were not loaded, believe me. But we always had enough food. My parents made the decision that we would go to Catholic school and that has made all the difference in my life,” Faint recalled.
Faint is also pleased to be honoring the memory of her father, who she called “the best Catholic I’ve ever known.” Paul Faint did not belong to any religion as a young man but converted to Catholicism in order to marry his wife Catherine. “Once he became Catholic, he lived the faith fully,” his daughter said.
Faint, who retired from her job at Verizon 25 years ago, had been and still donates every year to the diocese’s Annual Catholic Appeal, but felt the urge to do something more.
She approached a friend, Msgr. David Cassato, the pastor of St. Athanasius Church at the time, after Mass there one day and asked him for advice. He pointed her to the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens and before long, she met with officials from the foundation and Futures in Education to work out the details.
But it was more than just his words that moved her. She saw him in action. Msgr. Cassato is also the vicar for education for the diocese.
“My inspiration was seeing Monsignor interact with the children of St. A’s. The care and concern he had for each child was wonderful to see. It’s in his heart. It’s in his soul,” she explained.
The fund is well-timed with the 25th anniversary of the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens, foundation officials said.
Calling Faint “a wonderful generous person with a tremendous love for children,” Msgr. Cassato also praised Faint as a person who sees the big picture in life. “She believes very strongly in seeing the faith grow. And the best way to do that is through Catholic education,” he explained.
For Faint, the donation makes perfect sense. “I don’t think of it as my money. It’s God’s money. He has enabled me to live a good life,” she said.
The endowment isn’t the only example of Faint’s generosity. She is also a participant in The Tablet’s Membership Program, in which readers are invited to donate at different tier levels and become active partners in the newspaper.