Refund Support Vocations Program (RSVP)
Chris Johnson, Programs Director
The Supreme Featured Program initiative highlighted this month is the Refund Support Vocations Program (RSVP). By completing an RSVP program for this fraternal year, a council fulfills all Columbian Award requirements for the Church category on the Columbian Award Application (Form SP-7).
CHURCH ACTIVITY Church activities are essential to the parish and the pastor. Not only do they benefit the parish, they give the council visibility among the parishioners and provide recruitment opportunities for the council.
FEATURED PROGRAM - Refund Support Vocations Program (RSVP) Since the inception of the RSVP program in 1981, councils have provided over $50 million in financial support to more than 80,000 seminarians, postulants, and novices. A well-planned vocations support program allows Knights, prospective Knights and other parishioners to provide both material and moral support.
HOW TO CONDUCT THE RSVP PROGRAM Councils and assemblies receive a $100 rebate from the Supreme Council for every $500 in financial support provided to an individual seminarian, postulant or novice, and up to a maximum refund of $400 per individual for $2,000 in contributions. Columbian Squires Circles receive a $20 rebate for every $100 of support provided.
• Identify a seminarian to support. Contact your pastor or diocesan vocations director if you need help.
• Determine how the support money is to be raised. Involve prospective Knights and other parishioners in the fundraising effort. Determine how the money will be presented to the seminarian. Notify the diocesan vocations director in advance when presenting money to an RSVP candidate.
• After a seminarian’s name and address is secured, prepare and send a letter of introduction from the council.
• RSVP assistance also involves prayer and moral support. Make a least one personal visit to each seminarian and send at least four letters (i.e., birthday, Christmas, Easter, and welcome back to school greetings) each fraternal year.
• Encourage members, their families, and other parishioners to keep the seminarian or postulant in their prayers, make personal visits to them,
• Invite the seminarian or postulant to all council activities and include him on your mailing list for the council newsletter and other communications.
• Invite the seminarian to join the council.
• Invite the seminarian to make a presentation to the council, parish, and/or parish youth groups on what it means to prepare for the priesthood or religious life.
• Arrange for the seminarian to host a group of young people from the council or parish at the seminary so that they can meet other seminarians and get a feeling of what it takes to prepare for the priesthood or religious life.
• Make sure to offer congratulations and support to the seminarian or postulant on their ordination.
• Apply for the refund from the Supreme Council office – to be eligible for a refund, monies must be given directly to an individual (not an institution or fund); money given to an individual must be vocations related; paid with a check drawn from the council-assembly account; and copies of check or other documentation must accompany the application for the refund.
• Request an RSVP Award Plaque. To qualify for an RSVP plaque, the council must provide financial assistance, as well as moral support throughout the fraternal year. Refer to the RSVP Refund Application (#2863) for the exact details and procedures for requesting a refund or a plaque. Any council that participates in the RSVP program will receive full credit for all Columbian Award requirements in the Church Activities category