Chalice gives kids a chance in life

By 
  • December 23, 2010
Fr. Pat CosgroveIn the 25 years since he became a priest, one accomplishment Fr. Pat Cosgrove looks back on with particular fondness is the establishment of Chalice.

“When I started doing this, I never thought that we needed another developmental organization in the world,” Cosgrove told The Catholic Register. “What I really thought we were doing was expressing God’s love and passion for the poor and I still feel that more than anything else. We try to give Catholics in Canada a way to express their faith and their love for Christ.”


Founded in 1996, Chalice is a Catholic sponsorship and development agency that was originally run out of the basement of St. John the Baptist parish in Springhill, N.S., with only a few volunteers. Today, the organization sponsors 43,000 children in 15 countries and has about 35 employees.

Originally called Child Care International, the organization changed its name to Chalice about four years ago to express its Catholicity, said Cosgrove, who is also pastor at St. Ignatius parish in Bedford, N.S.

Through child sponsorship and community projects, Chalice’s main goal is to help families cope with the stresses of poverty, he said.

“We do this by helping them educate their children, providing emergency medical care and proper nutrition. We’ve helped families in situations where they’ve lost their homes, we’ve built schools and we’ve built wells to provide water in areas in which we work,” said Cosgrove.

“For many of these families, they wouldn’t be able to afford to send these children to school, they’d send them to work. So sponsorship gives children a chance to read, to write, to get by better than they ever would without it.”

But Cosgrove said Chalice is about more than the giving of money.

“I just came back from Bolivia and the sisters, priests and lay people were all doing a work of love. It was beautiful to see… it’s the work of the Lord.”

And last June, Chalice was recognized by MoneySense Magazine in its list of top 100 charities — a list whose aim is to show how effective charities are at making sure money goes to the actual cause, as opposed to fundraising and administrative costs. In the international aid category, Chalice ranked first.

Archbishop Martin Currie of St. John’s and Grand Falls, Nfld., has been a member of Chalice’s board of directors for the past 10 years. But Currie’s relationship with Cosgrove goes back even further — at least 30 years, said Currie.

“The genius of it is that he has deacons go across the country and speak on Chalice (in parishes) and then they leave brochures for sponsors and it has continued to grow and grow,” said Currie, who worked as a priest with Cosgrove in Nova Scotia for years before becoming a bishop.

Cosgrove said there are about a dozen deacons who live in different parts of the country who speak at parishes about Chalice. In fact, Cosgrove said it is because of the work of the deacons that the organization has seen such growth.

“It’s marvellous,” said Currie. “Fr. Patrick is very committed to it and he deserves a lot of credit... He’s been a good pastor and he’s been able to mobilize people to get things done, no matter what situation he finds himself in.”

And Cosgrove said it’s incredible what a huge difference sponsorship can make on the life of a child and their family.

“The difference is a sense of giving people hope, it gives them a sense of people caring for them and, when there’s an emergency, there’s someone there that helps them. Sometimes, it takes the edge off of poverty.”

Sponsorship costs $33 per month for a total of $396 annually. For more information, see www.chalice.ca.

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