Block One of Capital Endowment Campaign remarkable successBy: Linda Leicht Leopold MO
St. John Parish has been the spiritual home of Catholics in Leopold since 1856. A rural community, with only one paved road coming into town, 375 families belong to the church.
Fr. David Coon serves as the pastor of the Leopold parish, as well as the 64 families at the 111-year-old St. Anthony Mission Church in Glennon, about 10 miles away.
The challenges of these small, rural parishes are many, but getting commitments to the Capital Endowment Campaign has not been one of them. In fact, both faith communities reached and exceeded their commitments well before the campaign concluded.
The campaign—“Grateful for Our Past … Preparing for Our Future”—began in January on the east-side of the diocese. The diocesan-wide goal is $15 million, with each parish asked to provide a small slice of that total to augment existing endowments for preparing future priests for the diocese and priests’ retirement, as well as to establish a new endowment for youth formation. It is the first such campaign in the 60-year history of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.
“Eighteen parishes participated in the first of three blocks in the Capital Campaign,” said Gretchen Gambon, Associate Campaign Director. “Parish Leadership Teams and volunteers follow a simple plan to personally approach every parishioner to prayerfully consider a sacrificial gift.”
The campaign came at an interesting time for the Leopold parish. After years of saving the profits from its annual Leopold Picnic, the church embarked on a major restoration project of its sanctuary, last overhauled in the 1950s. The $263,000 project was able to move forward because the money for it was already there, and parishioners in Leopold didn’t hesitate to step-up in support the diocesan campaign.
“God bless these people,” said Fr. Coon. “They’ve been very generous to the campaign.”
Glennon reached its goal within the first month, with several more families still to be contacted, while Leopold did the same in less than two months.
The campaign was launched with print materials and videos in both English and Spanish, all of which lay out the needs and the goals of the Diocese.
“I think there was a general sense of ‘Wow, I didn’t know those needs were there,’” said Fr. Coon. “and ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money. How are we going to do that?’ … There was a lot of ‘Wow’ going on.”
But the theme of recalling our history and preparing for our future really resonated with the people.
“These parishes have been here for a long time,” Fr. Coon said. “We are standing on the shoulders of giants: Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents made tremendous sacrifices. It’s our time now.”
Dustin Hoesli was one of the parish campaign volunteers who personally reached out to his fellow parishioners at Leopold to ask them to participate in the campaign.
“I really enjoyed it,” said the father of five, with his sixth soon to arrive. “I went to Catholic schools my whole life through college,” Hoesli said. “I’ve seen first-hand what a shortage of priests is like. I’ve also seen first-hand the 85 percent of youth that leave the Church between middle school and college.”
Hoesli brought that knowledge and passion to those he visited. Explaining that he went to school with 184 students in his native Kentucky, few of those classmates are still active members of the Church.
“If that 85 percent is correct, only one of my six children will remain an active member,” Hoesli said.
He also pointed out that he, like many others in the Church, has a retirement plan through his employer.
“That is a small thing to ask,” for the Church to provide a retirement plan for its priests, Hoesli said.
The response he has received from his fellow parishioners has been “fantastic,” Hoesli said. “I haven’t had to ask for anything. I just answer questions and tell them my thoughts. They respond with an open checkbook and prayers.”
Rhonda Horrell has had a similar response in Glennon.
“Some people told me they were not going to give anything,” Horrell said. “Then when I got [to their home], they ended up giving a pledge.”
“We’re a small parish that’s mainly retired and on fixed incomes,” Horrell said. “I was really pleased with that.”
“As campaign directors, we are humbled and inspired by the generous and faithful Catholics who are dedicated in securing the future of our diocese,” Gambon said.
Many parishioners had questions and concerns, said Fr. Coon. Some worried that with a new bishop for the diocese yet to be announced, the money would not be spent as promised. Others wondered why additional needs were not included in with seminarian support, priests’ retirement, and youth formation. Many were concerned that the parish would not meet its goal.
“I told them as long as we make a good faith effort, that it’s no problem,” Fr. Coon said. “We all knew we were going to give it a good faith effort.”
Measure of success
Hoesli is not surprised at the positive response and he has faith that the diocese will meet its goal.
“We’ve got a lot of very generous members in the community,” Hoesli said. “Hopefully, there will be a lot more churches like Leopold that can exceed their goal.”
The composite target of $6,087,471 for the 18 parishes in Block One has been met, with 14 of the 18 parishes exceeding their goals.
“We are very grateful to the pastors, staff, and lay people who are sharing their gifts of time, talent, and treasure on behalf of the parish campaigns,” said Msgr. Thomas E. Reidy, Diocesan Administrator.
“As the Block One phase of the campaign draws to a close in the month of March, we anticipate by the close of the campaign in early April, that four or five additional parishes will join the list of reaching or exceeding their goals,” Msgr. Reidy said.
Block Two of the Capital Endowment Campaign will begin mid-August and run through mid-November of this year. Block Three will start in January of 2017 and go through March 2017.
“The success of the Block One parish campaigns will provide a model, enthusiasm, and encouragement for Block Two and Block Three parishes,” Msgr. Reidy said.
For more information on the Capital Endowment Campaign, contact your local pastor or Gene Aug, diocesan Director of Development and Properties at (417) 866-0841, or via Email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All print materials and videos for the Capital Campaign are on the diocesan Website at www.dioscg.org or available upon request. ©TM
Leslie Anne Eidson contributed to this article.
Coming soon: Block Two
The Block Two phase of the Capital Endowment Campaign will begin mid-August 2016 and run through mid-November 2016. Parish campaigns will be conducted in the following churches:
Aurora, Holy Trinity
Billings, St. Joseph
Branson, Our Lady of the Lake
Buffalo, St. William
Cassville, St. Edward
Conway, Sacred Heart
El Dorado Springs, St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Forsyth, Our Lady of the Ozarks
Greenfield, St. Patrick Mission
Kimberling City, Our Lady of the Cove
Lebanon, St. Francis de Sales
Marshfield, Holy Trinity
Monett, St. Lawrence
Mt. Vernon, St. Susanne
Ozark, St. Joseph the Worker
Pierce City, St. Mary
Pulaskifield, SS Peter and Paul
Sarcoxie, St. Agnes
Shell Knob, Holy Family
Springfield, St. Agnes Cathedral
Springfield, Holy Trinity
Springfield, Immaculate Conception
Springfield, St. Joseph
Springfield, Sacred Heart
Springfield, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Stockton, St. Peter, Apostle, Mission
Verona, Sacred Heart
Block Three of the Capital Endowment Campaign will begin in January 2017 and will run through March 2017.