By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
The archdiocesan capital and endowment campaign, “Heritage of Faith, Vision of Hope,” recently reached another major milestone, raising in pledges and gifts more than $156 million, or 78 percent toward a $200 million goal.
By April 13 Catholics across the Archdiocese had contributed $156,396,053 to the campaign.
The Archdiocese has collected $28.7 million in cash on donor pledges, or 19 percent of the total pledged. Disbursements of $3.9 million of the cash collected from standard campaigns have been made to parishes to support local needs.
“The outpouring of generosity by the faithful over the last 18 months has been amazing, affirming and inspiring,” said Cardinal Justin Rigali. “I continue to be humbled by the many generous gifts and pledges made to this historic effort, and I am encouraged that by meeting this milestone, our goal is within reach.”
The three-quarter mark was officially met and surpassed before Palm Sunday weekend on March 26. By the close of that day, $153,960,340 had been raised.
On Palm Sunday weekend of last year, April 4-5, the campaign surpassed the one-quarter mark, exceeding $51 million in pledges and gifts, or 25 percent of the overall goal.
In the past 19 months, 163 of the Archdiocese’s 267 parishes have completed local fundraising efforts; 58 parishes are currently engaged in fundraising and the remaining 46 parishes will complete their campaigns by Christmas.
St. Andrew Parish in Newtown, Bucks County, has conducted the largest standard parish campaign to date. Just prior to this past Easter Sunday, April 4, the parish had exceeded its $3.3 million goal. By April 13, it had raised $3.4 million. The parish started the campaign last September.
“The parish was extremely happy and proud that they were able to accomplish this,” said Msgr. Michael C. Picard, pastor of St. Andrew Parish. “It was a staggering goal that was set for us – quite frankly, we all thought that we might not attain it” because of the country’s economic recession.
“But our people came through. It was a little slow in the beginning, but it picked up momentum.”
Msgr. Picard credits the shift to the lay volunteers who tirelessly spread the word among fellow parishioners.
Also crucial to the cause were the parish’s campaign leadership team and parish staff members, he said.
The parish’s commitment weekend phase of the campaign, held two weeks before Holy Week, was a stellar success. “We had over $500,000 pledged just that one weekend,” Msgr. Picard said.
The pastor said he is affirmed by the generosity of his people. “It gave me continued confidence in the faith and the love of the people for the parish and for the needs of the Archdiocese.”
The clarity of the archdiocesan and parish campaign case statements and the opportunity for parishioners to ask questions also contributed to the success, said the pastor.
St. Andrew’s plans for its share of the campaign funds are three-fold: first, create an education fund for the elementary school and PREP (parish religious education program); second, provide funding for parish ministries; and third, allocate funds for future capital needs, including heating, ventilating and air conditioning in the Catholic Education Center.
Among the many other successful campaign stories across the Archdiocese: Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Parish in North Wales, Montgomery County, under the direction of the pastor, Msgr. Philip C. Ricci, surpassed its goal of $1,840,000, raising to date $2,002,205. Although St. John the Baptist Parish in Ottsville, Bucks County, had a more modest goal – $545,000 – it has raised $889,314 or 163 percent, under the direction of the pastor, Missionary of the Sacred Heart Father Raymond Diesbourg.
Cardinal Rigali acknowledged “the pastor and parishioner partnerships” created through the campaign as “a powerful exercise in stewardship.”
“Extraordinary gifts of time, talent and treasure are exemplified by the thousands of volunteers for the campaign and the generous pledges,” he said.
“Each parish is working toward a common goal in the name of our Lord, and that makes this effort all the more inspiring – that we are coming together to carry on the work of His Church.”
Among the hundreds of lay volunteers across the Archdiocese assisting with the campaign is Bill Carroll, 52, of Sacred Heart Parish in Royersford, Montgomery County.
Carroll concedes that he volunteered to help his parish kick off its campaign last September simply because no one else had stepped up. “I felt sorry for our pastor,” Father Timothy M. Judge.
“I realized that’s not a good enough reason, that for this to be successful I had to be fully committed. And that unless I was enthusiastically supportive and 100 percent behind the effort, I was doing a disservice to both the parish and the diocese,” Carroll said.
“I dug in and learned more about the campaign and all aspects of it. Once I did that, it became personal to me, and I was determined to make it personal to my fellow parishioners.”
Carroll, who chaired the special gifts committee, promoted the campaign from the pulpit before weekend Masses when the campaign was presented to the parish at large.
“In the end, many people came up to me and said I changed their minds, that they had no intention of contributing and now they were going to,” he said.
Working closely with the pastor is key, Carroll said, as is meeting one-on-one with candidates for major and advance gifts and contacting all parishioners. “We went through the list three times and called every single household.
“Find your enthusiasm, make it personal, follow the plan and enjoy the ride,” he said.
The Church of Philadelphia is conducting the $200 million capital and endowment campaign to support the charitable, educational and pastoral needs of the Archdiocese.
The campaign, which supports all aspects of the local Church, was officially announced Feb. 23, 2009. In September 2008, 12 of the Archdiocese’s 267 parishes tested the campaign in a pilot phase. In January 2009, the first track of parishes officially started fundraising. The second and third tracks and a part of the fourth followed.
The second tier of Track 4 parishes will begin leadership and planning meetings in July, announce the campaign within their respective communities after Labor Day and conclude by Christmas.
Of the $200 million goal, 40 percent, or $80 million, will be distributed to the parishes of the Archdiocese. Of that amount, $10 million will support the Interparochial Cooperation Commission, an archdiocesan endowment fund for needy parishes.
At least 35 cents of every dollar raised in a parish will remain with it. As cash payments are received on pledges up to the parish’s established goal, proceeds will be shared: 35 percent to the parish and 65 percent to the Archdiocese. Money raised above a parish’s goal will be shared 65 percent to the parish and 35 percent to the Archdiocese.
For more information, including how to contribute to the campaign online, visit the web site www.heritageoffaithvisionofhope.com or call the campaign office at or 610-896-7312 or 215-587-3654.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.