OCY missionaries with their new Ford Focus, donated by Fr. Scott Burchill outside of Serra House. From left, Francis Yoo, Burchill, Veronica Stach and Andre Tyson. Photo by Meggie Hoegler

Car donation a 'Godsend', gives mobility to youth missionaries

  • November 2, 2017
Fr. Frank Portelli can attest that God works in mysterious ways. In his case, in the form of a 2007 Ford Focus.

Portelli is the director of the Office of Catholic Youth in Toronto. His organization needed a new vehicle to transport its missionaries to youth events around the archdiocese. As luck would have it, Fr. Scott Burchill was looking to donate his old car. The rest is history.

Although people generally think of giving to the Church in terms of money, non-monetary gifts can also make a difference.

“That was the first car I ever bought,” said Burchill, director of Serra House at St. Augustine’s Seminary. “I didn’t want to get rid of it but I needed something larger. I’m very tall so driving for long periods of time got to be quite uncomfortable.

“I could have traded it in or sold it but I figured the best thing to do was donate it. I knew OCY was in need of a new car and that it would benefit so many people so I said to myself, ‘That’s it! That’s what I’m going to do with the car.’ ”

The transfer went smoothly. Burchill decided to donate the vehicle in mid-September. By the end of the month, OCY missionaries were behind the wheel.

The donation was well received by the youth missionaries, who travel to high schools across the region presenting on Theology of the Body as part of their Re:Generation mission. With the cooler weather, the missionaries are especially grateful that Burchill’s former vehicle has heating.

“The car truly is a Godsend,” said Andre Tyson, one of the OCY missionaries.

“And it has heat!” said Veronica Stach, also an OCY missionary.

This is the third vehicle that has been given to OCY, which was created in 1991. Previous cars have been donated by the Sisters of Life and parishioners, but this was the first car donation from a priest.

“It was shocking how quickly the whole thing came together,” said Portelli. “Fr. Scott is a proactive decision maker. Before I knew it, we were driving it.”

Burchill, who was a city planner before he joined the priesthood, says his philanthropy is about getting creative.

“Sometimes city planners will donate land to the archdiocese. People also donate retirement savings or stocks to help benefit the Church,” said Burchill. “I always tell people it never hurts to ask. Talk to your priest or contact the archdiocese and see what they need.”

Even old household items can be of use to the Church or affiliated organizations.

“You can donate books or clothes to a shelter or a day program, you can even donate counters and kitchen cupboards to Habitat for Humanity. If you have something laying around, there could be a use for it within the Church. You won’t know unless you ask.”

The OCY is in search of more permanent housing for their missionaries.

“Right now they’re renting a house and a lot of donations go towards paying their rent. If we owned a house, we could use the space to hold meetings around Theology of the Body for young adults as well,” said Portelli.

Portelli says every little bit counts.

“For the youth missions office, we are always looking for donations, sponsorships and volunteers.”

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