Capital Endowment Campaign heads into home stretchBy: Linda Leicht Joplin MO
The first-ever Capital Endowment Campaign in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau is entering its final phase, and it is well on its way to a successful finish, thanks to the generosity of the more than 20,000 households in the diocese.
After two successful “blocks” exceeding goals, soon the 39 parishes in Block III will be asked to take the fund-raising effort over the finish line. The Block III campaign begins Jan. 9, when lay volunteers will ask their fellow parishioners to help raise the funds needed to support seminarians, retired priests, and youth formation through their prayerful sacrifices.
“Everyone else in the diocese has already done their part. Now it’s our turn to wrap things up,” said Fr. John (“ J.”) Freidel, a member of the Capital Campaign Priests Committee and pastor of two parishes in Block III: St. Peter the Apostle, Joplin, and St. Ann in Carthage.
Block I, made up of 18 parishes on the eastern side of the diocese, responded to the campaign with great generosity, pledging 131 percent of its target and boasting a 40 percent participation rate.
Block II, made up of 28 parishes in and surrounding Springfield, just completed its campaign and did equally as well. Parishioners stepped up to reach more than 152 percent of the target, with 39 percent of parishioners participating.
“We are very thankful for our parishioners, for their response and support,” said Gretchen Gambon, one of the campaign directors. “Block II has been very successful thanks to the hard work of hundreds of lay volunteers, pastors, and staff.”
Now the 39 parishes in Block III, made up of all the remaining parishes in the diocese will have the same opportunity to be part of this important effort.
“We’ve done well so far,” said Fr. J., who expects the people in Block III, who are “every bit as generous,” to respond in the same way.
“When people see the needs, they respond,” Fr. J. said.
It is the role of the campaign volunteers to demonstrate those needs—supporting seminarians who will ultimately serve the diocese as priests; retired priests, making sure that those men who gave their lives in service are taken care of in their retirement years; and youth formation, providing the resources needed to enrich the faith of our youth and form them as life-long disciples.
“It’s going to be hard work,” said Fr. J, “but it is going to be good.”
Generosity of faithful
Nancy and John Loughner of Forsyth can attest that the work may seem imposing, but the effort was well worth it. As chairmen of their parish’s campaign, the Laughners are proud that Our Lady of the Ozarks reached more than 170 percent of its target.
More than that, they are thrilled with the impact the individual visits with each parish family had on them and the rest of the church.
“People who were acquaintances are now friends,” Nancy said of the outcome. “We went into their homes, learned their stories. It was awesome.”
Our Lady of the Ozarks is a small, rural parish—fewer than 100 families—made up of mostly retired people. But John insists it is the best parish in the diocese.
“We are rock stars down here. … It’s not a church; it’s a family,” he said.
Like family, Nancy wanted to make sure that those who invited her, John, and the other volunteers into their homes were properly thanked. The best way was with Nancy’s delicious banana bread, so she made 90 mini-loaves and 10 full loaves for larger families, to be handed out by each of the volunteer visitors.
“They loved it,” she said.
They also shared their love of the Catholic Church and their diocese and understood the important needs that the campaign would be meeting. Forsyth was one of the 24, of a total 28, parishes to exceed its goal in Block II, with the participation of nearly all of its members.
The favorite experience of the campaign for the Loughners was the 90-year-old parishioner who apologized that she had just had some repair work done on her home and was not able to contribute until January.
“Don’t you know, she called this week and said, ‘I’m ready to contribute now,’” John said.
Mark Otradovec, was also hesitant to be the campaign volunteer at Sacred Heart in Springfield, but the results have been worth the work, he said. The official parish has 161 families, and about half of them participated, reaching more than 250 percent of the parish’s target.
He was especially moved by a member who was recently widowed. She felt like the amount suggested for her pledge was too high, but when the volunteer came for a second visit, she said she wanted to make the full pledge and even take a part-time job to do it.
“She said, ‘I want to do this. I need to do this.’ That is one of those positive stories. Someone knew the importance,” Otradovec said.
“It reflects our faith,” he said. “If people know there is a need, they respond. I think that’s what happened here. We saw the impact of what it can do for our future, and I think that’s why we had such a good response across the diocese.”
If Block III proves the same generosity of the previous blocks, the diocese will be able to reach its original goal for the campaign, Fr. J. explained. The goal was scaled back from $20 million to $15 million when Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., was assigned to the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, leaving our diocese without a “visual leader.” Since then, Bishop Edward Rice has been installed as our bishop.
“Now that we have a bishop in the chair, we are aiming for that higher goal, which we are on target to reach if the people in Block III respond in the same way,” Fr. J. said.
Bishop Rice, who arrived in the diocese shortly after Block I was completed, responded to the results of the first two blocks. “I continue to be astonished by the generosity and dedication of our parishioners in southern Missouri,” he said in a letter to the parishes. “We are truly blessed to be serving the Church here in our diocese.”
The bishop encouraged the parishioners of Block III.
“It is my hope and prayer that these parishes will be just as successful,” Bishop Rice said. “I firmly believe it is our responsibility to give every family an opportunity to grow spiritually by sharing their gifts in this remarkable and historical effort.”
For campaign materials and videos, consult the diocesan Website at www.dioscg.org, or your local parish.