Column: The difference between a Catholic and commercial insurer

By Vicky Giacalone

There’s a quiet constituency of committed Catholics here in this community, working weekly to improve the opportunities for Catholic education, the facilities for Catholic schools and parishes, and the financial security of Catholic families. It’s Catholic United Financial.

We don’t make a big deal out of our accomplishments. But maybe it’s time we introduced ourselves: “Hi, Catholic United here. We’ve been your neighbor for about 140 years.”

What do we do? Well, follow our profits and you’ll find our passion. After expenses and reserves are set aside, Catholic United’s profits are reinvested in local Catholic schools, parishes, programs, and communities.

To support Catholic Schools, we’ve helped raise more than $8 million in Minnesota and the Dakotas through our Annual Catholic Schools Raffle. Raffle laws are different here in Wisconsin, but in the past three years, we’ve awarded grants to St. Joseph School in Boyd, Sacred Heart School in Cashton, St. John the Baptist School in Edgar and Holy Rosary School in Medford.

We provide our years of expertise and a grant to purchase all the materials and tickets, enabling the schools to raise more than $42,000 through their own local raffles—just this year. We’ve already raised over $100,000 for just four Catholic Schools in our little area, in the past three years alone.

We also award hundreds of scholarships every year. Our scholarship program for members seeking post-secondary education is a huge investment in our community, awarding more than $4 million to over 8,000 students over the years. More than 1,000 of these scholarships have been doled out in the past two years alone. Did we mention we’re growing?

When a member of our community is in need, we match funds at local benefits. When a Catholic school needs a new gym floor, or better food, or tuition assistance, we match funds with local fundraisers. When we saw the need for large scale assistance for homelessness, domestic abuse shelters, and disasters, we organized Gather4Good®, a program to assemble personal need kits for local organizations to distribute.

We’ve made more than 25,000 kits at more than a dozen family-friendly large-scale volunteer events so far.

It’s all done through fun, local teams of active volunteers who use their own talents and passions to benefit the local community. We have a mantra; we don’t help people because they are Catholic, we help them because we are Catholic.

All these efforts are possible because of our financial products. Competitively priced and tailored for our members’ specific personal needs, they are sold by our highly trained sales force who are themselves members and parishioners in the communities they serve.

The difference between Catholic United and a commercial insurer? You read all about it earlier. All our profits go to members and their communities. We have no shareholders to satisfy—we have members, and we put their needs first. It’s the reason we’ve stayed in business for over 140 years. We keep our promises to our members.

Over time we’ve grown to a billion-dollar organization. We don’t expand fast, and we don’t make snap decisions. Our entrance into the Wisconsin market has been careful, considered and quiet. But we’re here.

Your local Sales Representative, Vicky Giacalone, can be found at mass on Sunday, but otherwise, she can be found wherever you’d like to meet. Just give her a call or text.

That’s another difference. While we’ll give a quote online or over the phone, we still want you to be comfortable when you make an important financial decision. So we meet at your convenience, wherever you want to meet—even at your kitchen table.

You don’t need to remember to gather documents, or bundle up the baby, or get in the car during a snowstorm. Just give your rep a call—we’ll come to you.

This isn’t a sales pitch. It’s a call to a cause. You don’t have to start by buying a life insurance product to protect your family from sudden loss. You don’t need to roll-over a market-based 401(k) to a fixed rate guaranteed-for-life stream of income. It would be great if you did, but why not check out your local parish’s volunteer team or council? Or meet some of the people who make this organization special, while also giving a little time back to your church, school or community? Start there.

Vicky will be happy to introduce you to local volunteers and coordinators, while probably donning an apron herself. Building up our Catholic faith and our communities is about connecting with people, so that’s what we’re here to do. We can’t wait to meet you.

Giacalone can be reached at (920) 475-3196, via email at, or online at