Couple Gives $3 Million to Diocese

By Susan Ruiz Patton
Cleveland Plain Dealer
April 16, 2003

For $3 million, Tom and Sandy Sullivan got breakfast with the bishop, eliminated some tedious paperwork and publicly affirmed their faith in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.

"We wanted to be supportive of the Catholic Church, with all the bad publicity," said Sandy Sullivan.

The Bay Village couple transferred their 17-year-old private foundation to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Foundation. Tom Sullivan is on the board of the diocese foundation and is chairman of RPM Inc. of Medina.

The Sullivans' gift is one of the largest ever given to the three-year-old diocese foundation.

Investment of the $3 million should provide about $150,000 a year for area nonprofits.

Those groups support education and fight poverty.

The Sullivans stipulated that the money won't be used for legal fees or penalties in cases of priests accused of sexually abusing children, said Tony Lang, executive director of the diocese foundation. The money also won't go to organizations inconsistent with the teachings of the church, such as groups supporting abortion.

The Sullivan foundation has traditionally made contributions to non-Catholic and Catholic organizations, including the City Mission, Salvation Army, Urban Community School and West Side Catholic Center.

That giving pattern is likely to continue, said Lang.

While the diocese foundation will handle all the paperwork, financial decisions will be made by a board that includes three Sullivan family members, three diocesan representatives and Bishop Anthony Pilla.

"We are quite honored that Bishop Pilla has chosen to be on our board," Tom Sullivan said.

Tom, Sandy and two of their six children joined Pilla for a celebratory breakfast at Pilla's Cleveland rectory after the deal was signed Friday.

"A lot of people have lost track of how important the church is to the community," said Tom Sullivan.


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