By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

The adage “a penny saved is a penny earned” can be applied millions of times over to the archdiocesan capital and endowment campaign, “Heritage of Faith, Vision of Hope.”

At press time, Tuesday, Feb. 23 – officially the campaign’s first birthday – more than $139 million had been raised in gifts and pledges.

By this week, $2.2 million of the campaign funds had been placed into parish trust funds. Of that amount, more than $475,000 had been disbursed to 16 of the 63 parishes that participated in the campaign’s pilot phase and first track.

The disbursements are based on a percentage of funds actually received on pledges. Parishes request monies based on needs stated in their campaign case statements. At this juncture, many parishes have requested less than what has been deposited into their account and others continue to earn interest on all they have accrued to date.

Visitation B.V.M. Parish in the Kensington section of North Philadelphia had a campaign goal of $235,000. Its parishioners have pledged $385,052 toward the campaign.

Repairs will soon begin on a hole in Visitation’s sanctuary roof utilizing $13,000 of the more than $30,000 the parish is currently eligible to receive from campaign funds, said the pastor, Redemptorist Father Bruce A. Lewandowski.

The parish plans to apply the remaining money to future phases of the roof’s repair and to a contingency fund for special needs at the parish and school, the pastor added. When all of the pledged funds are received, Visitation’s portion will total $154,000.

“The refrain we kept using was, ‘A little bit adds up to a lot; if everybody gives a little then we’ll have a lot,'” Father Lewandowski said. “It worked. People were very generous.”

Although the hole in Visitation’s roof happened over time, this year’s rough winter didn’t help, he said.

And while the opening is not visible from the sanctuary proper, water damage is visible there. In the interim, buckets have been placed in the ceiling to capture falling water.

Visitation, which the pastor described as a poor, working-class parish, has 2,800 registered families, or 7,200 registered inspaniduals. It is a multicultural parish that includes many Hispanic and Vietnamese Catholics.

“I know people are making a lot of sacrifices to make good on their pledges because they want to support the parish and all the good work that happens in the Archdiocese,” said Father Lewandowski.

“As pastor, I know the people and the jobs they have and how they struggle. That they were willing to make such a sacrifice is a great witness.”

The majority of parishioners are immigrants who “think Church diocese before they think Church parish,” he added.

“A lot of people think parish, parish, parish. Here, people have a strong sense of cultural Catholicism. So often, they’re really focused on just being a Catholic before they think of a particular parish. When we tell them we need to help the diocese, for them it’s an easy leap.

“There are a lot of good, generous people around, and they know the good work the Catholic Church is doing here in the Archdiocese and they want to support it,” Father Lewandowski said. “I was just thrilled that people really took the ball and ran with it.”

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

The campaign, which supports all aspects of the local Church, was officially announced on 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 embarked on the endeavor. The second and third tracks and a sector of the fourth track 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 or call the campaign office at 610-896-7312 or 215-587-3654.

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