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$200 million endeavor aids charitable, educational and pastoral needs

By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – The Church of Philadelphia is conducting a capital and endowment campaign with a $200 million goal to support the charitable, educational and pastoral needs of the Archdiocese as it begins its third century as a diocese.

Cardinal Justin Rigali will announce the campaign Heritage of Faith – Vision of Hope at a press conference Monday, Feb. 23 at 1:30 p.m. in the parish hall of St. Barnabas in Southwest Philadelphia.

The campaign, which runs through June 2010 and supports all aspects of the local Church, began with a planning phase last April as the Archdiocese concluded its Bicentennial celebration.

In a letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese to be distributed at all Masses this weekend, the Cardinal invites everyone to join him in making a “sacrificial commitment” to the campaign, adding he was “deeply grateful to those who have already done so.”

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“Our combined efforts will make a lasting contribution to the future of the Church in Philadelphia and help the Archdiocese live out the Bicentennial theme: Serving the people of God in the beginning, now and always,” he said.

The campaign will aid the Archdiocese in six areas: the 269 parishes; Catholic education; the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul; St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood; clergy retirement; and three branches of the Archdiocese’s Catholic Human Services; Catholic Social Services, Catholic Health Care Services and Nutritional Development Services.

All money will be deposited into a separately incorporated 501(c)(3) charitable fund.

Forty percent of the goal raised, 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 thirty-five 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.

Parishes participate in the campaign on a track schedule in three-month increments. After a pilot group of 12 parishes started their respective campaigns last September, parishes in the first track officially embarked on the effort this past January. The final track of parishes begins the campaign in January 2010.

The campaign is under way in more than 50 parishes, the Cardinal said in his letter.

To date, more than $40 million has been received in gifts and pledges.

“This inspiring display of generosity,” the Cardinal said, “is a testament to the leadership of our priests, the commitment of campaign volunteers and the extraordinary charity of more than 2,500 donors.”

Cardinal Rigali has appointed Msgr. Francis W. Beach, pastor of SS. Simon and Jude Parish in West Chester, to chair the Priests’ Advisory Committee.

“I believe we will exceed this goal by June 2010 because of the hard work of our pastors and the generosity of our people,” Msgr. Beach said.

He commended the leadership of his brother priests and the collaboration among the campaign’s lay leaders who are reporting positive feedback from the field. He cited as an example statements such as, “This campaign is much more than asking for money – it’s about building the Church, building the Body of Christ, it’s about the future of our children.”

Despite the country’s current economic crisis, many are making significant sacrificial gifts which, Msgr. Beach believes, is “an expression of the depth of the faith of our people who love their Church.”

Among the numerous lay leaders across the Archdiocese assisting with the campaign are Alice Niles, 45, of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Abington and Jim Delaney, 58, of St. John Baptist Vianney Parish in Gladwyne.

At Our Lady Help of Christians, one of the 12 pilot parishes, Niles serves on the campaign’s executive committee as the advance gift chair.

A highlight for her has been addressing the spiritual aspect of the campaign among parishioners. “To be let into someone’s life for that five minutes, 20 minutes or one minute and for them to share with you, that’s God’s grace,” she said.

The lay leaders agree that the country’s difficult economic times are not a detriment to the campaign. “The Church throughout the years has been built not by millionaires but regular people,” Niles said.

At Our Lady Help of Christians, “we got to our goal, little by little,” Niles added.

Delaney has served the campaign as a member of the feasibility study committee, the case statement task force and, currently, as co-chair of the Cardinal’s leadership gifts task force.

Although the campaign will benefit many causes, “It all starts with the Archdiocese,” Delaney said. “The foundation of all things Catholic comes from the Archdiocese. We have to support that foundation because without that, there are no other charities.”

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CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or