5 Questions with Emily McFarland

Emily McFarland joined St. Ignatius Parish recently as the new Director of Development. Her arrival comes as the parish seeks new ways to engage supporters, tell stories around the impact of parishioners gifts, and remind people of our call to serve others.

Where did you grow up and what brought you into a career in development?

I grew up in Carmel, attended Santa Clara (a few years after Fr. Greg) then made my way to San Francisco. My work with nonprofit organizations (Catholic Charities and the Sierra Club in particular) has made me familiar with many aspects of development. After stepping away from my career to raise my son Nathan I was looking for a position that was family friendly when he started 3rd grade, and found a perfect fit as the Director of Stewardship at St. John’s Episcopal church in Marin, where I live. I really value contributing to one of the few institutions in our society that reminds people that our lives should be about caring for others.

What is your philosophy on why people give?  

The question makes me think of Martin Luther King’s quote “until all are free, none are free.”   We give because the need of another is on some level our own need. It’s where we can truly act from a sense of shared responsibility to each other and all life on the planet.

Where do you see St. Ignatius in five years if you’re successful in your new role?  

Although they were not on my radar, an enthusiastic street canvasser recently inspired me to sign up for a recurring gift to Doctors Without Borders. Several months later when the news of the chaos in Afghanistan filled the media, I got an email from them saying they were putting teams of medical personnel on the ground to help. I felt such a sense of agency, pride and hope knowing that I was doing what I could to support them. That is what I want for everyone who gives to St. Ignatius - a clear understanding of the impact of their gift; regularly hearing stories about the lives that are touched by their giving; feeling appreciated and seen when they donate; and a sense of pride to be financially supporting this community and its accomplishments.

What’s been the biggest challenge in coming from an Episcopal church into a Catholic one?  

It took me six years to learn to call Mass, services (the Episcopal term), and now it’s probably going to take another six years to remember to call it Mass!

What is the strangest gift you’ve ever received from a donor? How did it happen?

Yeah, I can’t really answer that one. Suffice it to say it involved a lot of burnt orange nylon fabric and a beloved donor that may be looking down now reading this newsletter.