Capital campaigns are never easy, and it is remarkable that the Heritage of Faith — Vision of Hope archdiocesan campaign that ended in early 2011 surpassed its stated goal of $200 million in pledges. It took a lot of grassroots effort in the parishes, and probably more so in the 18 parishes where planned parish campaigns combined with the archdiocesan effort.
One of these parishes was St. Jude in Chalfont, where they had recently had a campaign to build an addition to the school. Now it was time to look at the church because, although the building is just a quarter-century old, it is big; holding between 800 and 1,100 worshippers, depending on who is counting, and updates were put aside to concentrate on the school expansion.
For example, a new HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system was needed, as well as improved lighting and general decoration. The outside of the church needed new walkways and a handicap ramp.
When the opportunity arose to piggy back with the archdiocesan effort, Msgr. James P. McCoy, pastor of St. Jude, jumped at it. Under the agreement, St. Jude was given a quota for the Heritage of Faith drive of $806,000, of which 65 percent would go to the archdiocesan effort and the parish would receive 35 percent of the funds. After the goal was reached, the percentages switched, with the parish retaining 65 percent and the balance going to the archdiocesan drive.
“We set a $2.5 million goal and we got $2.4 million,” Msgr. McCoy said. That was in pledges over five years, but at this point, the pledged funds are coming in. “We are on target,” he added.
Obtaining those pledges was a group effort on the part of a dedicated committee headed by parishioner Scott Cryder.
“We kicked it off in early 2009, and it was difficult in the middle of an economic downturn,” Cryder said. “But if you don’t ask people, they don’t have an opportunity to say ‘yes.’”
As Msgr. McCoy noted, the campaign is in its third year and there has been very little erosion from the pledges, according to Cryder. “We are not a rich parish, it is mostly blue collar,” he said. “Even in a difficult economy the parishioners stuck to their pledges. We have had instances where a person died and the next of kin picked up the pledge.”
Cryder credits much of the success to the leadership of Msgr. McCoy. “We have been blessed to have him for 20 years,” he said.
St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother Parish in Avondale, Chester County, is another young parish that opted for a combined fundraiser because it was still completing its infrastructure and needed funds for a permanent rectory and classrooms for its PREP students. Before 1988 it was an outlying chapel for St. Patrick’s in Kennett Square. When it was raised to parish status, a modular rectory was placed on the property as a temporary measure, and it now needs to be replaced.
Also, when a permanent church was built, the former chapel was converted for religious education classes, along with another modular building, but neither is really suitable for classrooms.
“The combined campaign worked out well,” said Father Richard J. Maisano, pastor of St. Gabriel. “We met the archdiocesan goal and exceeded it; the rectory is just about complete and ready for occupancy.” Now the parish, which has raised $800,000 for the two campaigns, is planning for the PREP space, which may be in the form of an addition to the church.
Father Maisano credits his chair couples Fred and Rosemarie Marenco, and Chuck and Chris Nunan for the success of the drive.
“Looking back, it seemed like a challenge in the beginning,” Fred Marenco said, “but we came up with a nice plan and we had a strong team of about 24 or 25 people. That’s what made it work.”
Another Chester County parish, St. Peter in West Brandywine, which also conducted a combined campaign, did so for the construction of a $2 million parish hall, and also to reduce parish debt acquired through the relocation of its campus from Honey Brook to West Brandywine in 2003. The parish also shares in debt incurred through the construction of adjacent Pope John Paul II Regional School, which serves St. Peter, along with four parishes in Coatesville.
“Our assigned goal (for the archdiocesan campaign) was $980,000, and we knew it would be daunting,” said Father Michael J. Fitzpatrick, pastor of St. Peter. Rather than recruiting a parish team for the campaign, St. Peter utilized a professional fundraiser. At this point Father Fitzpatrick estimates $1.7 million will be received for parish use through the combined campaign.
While this will still leave the parish in debt from past construction, demographic projections suggest there will be continued growth in the parish. St. Peter has grown from 850 families to 1,800 families, which fill the 1,000-seat church. More construction is expected when planned housing, which was delayed by the economic downturn, is ultimately built. Although the parish has had to reduce expenses at this time, Father Fitzpatrick is optimistic for the future.
Parishes that conducted combined programs along with the Heritage of Faith – Vision of Hope campaign:
St. Francis de Sales, Philadelphia
St. Jude, Chalfont
St. Peter, West Brandywine
St. Bede the Venerable, Holland
St. Patrick, Kennett Square
Ss. Simon and Jude, West Chester
St. Margaret, Narberth
St. Anthony of Padua, Ambler
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Hilltown
St. Joseph, Downingtown
St. Genevieve, Flourtown
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Buckingham
St. Peter the Apostle, Philadelphia
St. Gabriel, Avondale
St. Cornelius, Chadds Ford
St. John the Evangelist, Philadelphia
Our Lady of Peace, Milmont Park
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Limerick