By Ignatius Plato
Paula K. Parrish, the provincial assistant for advancement for the Jesuits USA Central and Southern (UCS) Province, recognizes her primary responsibility is to raise funds to support the Jesuits and the works of the UCS Province. But she also sees her work as a form of accompaniment, an opportunity to help others accomplish their own goals.
“Fundraising is about building relationships,” Parrish said. “You meet people where they are and discover what interests them. The Jesuit mission is similar: Everywhere they go, the Jesuits bring with them a spirituality that brings others closer to God.”
Parrish makes it her mission to establish meaningful relationships with donors and other companions of the UCS Province.
“My job – and the job of the whole advancement team – is to reach out and be available to our donors so we know where they are coming from and so they know where the Society is coming from,” Parrish said.
Parrish’s ultimate goal is to enable province benefactors to help others. “We want to let our donors know that they are a part of what the Society does,” said Parrish.
Parrish has been working in fundraising for a little over 30 years. In that time, she has primarily served nonprofits and Catholic institutions as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).
When she first began working for the UCS Province, Parrish met with Jesuits to gain an understanding of who she would be representing. Inspired by the Jesuits’ enthusiastic approach to service, Parrish considered how she could further that commitment through her own work. She began to understand how to combine the Jesuit mission and her advancement work: by bringing others to God.
“Jesuits truly strive to find God in everything and everyone,” said Parrish. “Working alongside people who understand what it means to be there for others has brought me closer to God and continues to do so. No matter who you are, the Jesuits really make you feel like you are a part of their community, a part of their family. I’ve always aspired to that kindness.”
It all comes full circle when Parrish gets opportunities to meet with companions of the province. “A lot of my work is about securing gifts and donations, but it’s not just about that,” said Parrish. “The Society’s mission involves simply being there for others. In turn, this brings humanity closer to God. And I’ve never felt closer to God than I have in helping our Jesuits live their mission.”