New director takes helm of mission advancement office

Molly Keene Smith, above, is the new director of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Mission Advancement Office. (Record Photo By Ruby Thomas)

In her new role as director of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Mission Advancement Office, Molly Keene Smith said she feels her job is to help individuals “accomplish something meaningful with their resources.”

Keene Smith took the helm of the Mission Advancement Office in September.

She’s a native of Springfield, Ky., and earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and government studies from Centre College. She previously served in administrative positions in Catholic institutions including as director of admissions at Bethlehem High School, as vice president for advancement and development at St. Catharine College, in Springfield, Ky., — which closed in 2016. She also served at St. Leo School in Versailles, Ky.

Keene Smith said the past few weeks have been “amazing.” She said she wasn’t aware of the scope of the services and support the archdiocese provided throughout its 24 counties.

“I’m in awe and humbled to be a part of it,” said Keene Smith in a recent interview. She noted that those ministries remained open and serving the needy through the lockdown brought about by the pandemic.

“They may have had to adjust, but stayed open because the services were needed more than ever. We’re proud of that. It was a herculean effort,” she said.

Keene Smith said she’s “hit the ground running” in this new role because the Catholic Services Appeal — which provides support for more than 100 ministries and programs of the Archdiocese of Louisville — is already underway. She said she feels like she has landed in a “great office.” “It’s a well-oiled machine,” she said.

One of her immediate goals is to increase participation in the appeal, she said, noting she was surprised to find that less than 25 percent of registered parishioners donate.

“Maybe people are not aware or they think ‘I already give to my parish,’ ” she said. “I’d like to increase that participation percentage by increasing awareness of the many vital services provided throughout the archdiocese by the over 100 ministries funded by the appeal.”

It’s not about the amount someone is able to provide, it’s about participation, she noted. The church is “like a family and everybody has to do their part according to our ability,” she said.

Keene Smith said she also wants to provide support to the parishes and the ministries of the archdiocese, “especially in these changing times.”

“The need now is greater than ever. People want to help and part of my job is to help them accomplish something meaningful with their resources,” she said.

Keene Smith said she believes there is “joy” to be found in giving and she wants to spread that message.

“Stewardship is all about grace, gratitude and generosity. We receive everything we have from God’s grace, we accept those many gifts with gratitude and we generously give of our gifts to others,” she said. “Giving back to others is a joyful experience, and as I have seen so many times in my life, God will not be outdone in generosity.”

She said she experienced this outpouring of generosity from God when her husband Rick died suddenly seven years ago. It was challenging caring for her four children but “every single month something happened to help me get by,” she said.

Keene Smith and her seven siblings grew up in Springfield. Her family attended St. Dominic Church. Her parents sacrificed and sent all eight children to Catholic schools and taught them about the importance of stewardship and giving to the church.

“My parents always said ‘pay your tithe and tuition first and God will take care of the rest,’ ” she said. She hopes to do the same for her children Rebekah, 26, Zachary 24, Jonathan, 23, and Phillip, 19.

“Hopefully I’ll inspire them with my career path and inspire a spirit of giving,” she said.

Keene Smith is a parishioner at Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Lexington, Ky. She said she is “excited” to return to the Archdiocese of Louisville and plans to move back next year.

To learn more about the Catholic Services Appeal or to make a donation, visit archlou.org/CSA.

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