2021 Anniversary Drive Donor Spotlight | Meet The Foleys
Every once in a while, you learn about something happening in the world, and you immediately get the sense that it’s something you just have to be a part of. Such was the case with longtime Eden Invitation donors, Elliot and Jess Foley, when they first heard about our mission.
“Three or four years ago, by providence, I got to sit across from Anna (Eden Invitation co-founder) at a conference,” says Elliot. “I did the whole, ‘So, what do you do?’ She gave me a two-minute crash course in the hole that she perceived, and the way Eden Invitation was trying to answer that. It was still taking shape, but she was so crystal clear as to the why, that my jaw was on the table… I was super compelled. I came back from the conference and was recounting to Jess all the exciting things I had heard, and I was like, ‘I can’t wait to see what Eden Invitation does!’”
As a millennial couple with loved ones who experience same-sex desires, giving to Eden Invitation is a way for the Foleys to support a vital mission in the Church, while also communicating their care to those with an LGBT+ experience.
“I feel like our donation to Eden Invitation is a way of the Foley family saying (to those with this experience), ‘We love you. We’ll do anything for you. We likely won’t say the right thing. But we’re here. And you’re family,’” says Elliot.
“I don’t want to just be like, ‘Here’s a book,’” he says. “That’s like our Catholic instinct. This is so clearly about accompaniment and community… it’s a group of people who can reach people who are feeling isolated.”
The Foleys are also grateful for the way in which Eden Invitation has helped them to better understand the experience of those they care about. Having suffered the pain of infertility, Elliot and Jess know the importance of connecting with those who intimately understand your particular experience and know how to speak to it in a way that brings solidarity rather than increased isolation.
“There is a certain language of someone who has suffered through something or felt the pain of it; they can speak to it in a really unique way,” says Jess. “I’m not the one to speak truth into this. It’s someone who can actually connect with another person who’s struggling with the same struggles, and provide the community, just as we were searching for and found community in other adoptive families and other couples who struggled with infertility.”
“That’s what really drew me to support Eden Invitation,” she says. “I feel so insufficient to be able to minister to someone who is struggling in this way, but being exposed to the materials that Eden Invitation provides for everyone has helped us in relating to friends who may be struggling in these ways. And we have referred friends to Eden Invitation, because at times, we just say, ‘That’s a hard question. I don’t know what to do. But I do know about these people (Eden Invitation). And I trust them.’”
In addition to providing support for those who experience same-sex desires or gender discordance, the Foleys have found that by learning more about Eden Invitation, they themselves have become more pastorally informed on the topic.
“In my moments of questioning what the Church has to say on this or questioning my response to these sacred conversations, I’ve found Eden Invitation so comforting and so challenging,” says Elliot.
“What I love about the initiative is that it takes it from ‘us and them,’” adds Jess. “It’s a call to holiness in how we should be approaching every person.”
Elliot and Jess encourage others to consider financially supporting the work of Eden Invitation. From Elliot’s perspective, working extensively with Catholic non-profits, as well as Jess’ background in finance and accounting, Eden Invitation is an organization that they feel is doing unique and necessary work in a way that maximizes its impact.
“Eden Invitation restored my hope that an organization can be not only prayerful, holy, and discerning of the Holy Spirit, but also organizationally adept, and transparent, and have that plan for the future,” says Jess. “When they won the OSV Challenge, it made me feel like they were strategically using my donation and coupling it with other initiatives to actually make an impact. As a donor, that was so exciting for me.”
“The meaning of a gift is not just its impact in size; it’s a show of support, it’s participation in the mission,” says Elliot.
“We will continue to give because we believe in their impact,” he says. “I have such confidence in that team. They are women and men after our Lord’s heart. Eden Invitation is doing something unique.”