By Barb Arland-Fye
Parishioners, priests and others have pledged $10 million so far toward the Diocese of Davenport’s $22 million Moving Forward in Faith and Hope Campaign. More than 2,200 families have made pledges or gifts to the capital campaign while the diocese’s 102 priests have committed to giving $1 million. Two individual gifts of $500,000 are the largest single contributions. Funds raised through the capital campaign will benefit the ministries of the diocese, 80 parishes, and schools and other entities that are a part of it. Those funds will be collected and held in the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Davenport, which is a separate, legal entity from the diocese.
“I am heartened by the response of so many parishioners to date and I thank them for their sacrificial gifts. Our goal is to contact every family of the diocese by the end of June,” Bishop Martin Amos said. Their involvement with the campaign “will help the Diocese of Davenport now and in the future.”
The campaign, which began last year with five pilot parishes, is the first in more than 20 years for the diocese. At present, 32 parishes are conducting campaigns; another 43 parishes and the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City will begin campaigns after Easter. And more than 500 volunteers are assisting with the campaign at the parish level. Community Counseling Services (CCS), a professional development firm, is overseeing the fundraising effort.
The campaign’s overarching goals are to strengthen the church of the Diocese of Davenport, assist parishes, support clergy and seminarians and reach out to the people of the diocese. Twenty percent of funds received up to a parish’s target goal and 50 percent of any overage is returned to the parish.
• Nearly $100,000 will be returned to St. Mary Parish in Grinnell, one of the capital campaign’s pilot parishes, which experienced tremendous success “because of the positive attitude and committed work of our parish leadership and parish volunteers,” said Father Nick Adam, pastor. “Everyone believed in the project and the added incentive of funds being returned to the parish was also a positive addition to the make-up of this effort.”
The Grinnell parish’s goal was $218,834; but parishioners pledged a total of $331,655 — 150 percent of goal. “Close to 295 families, over 67 percent of our parish, contributed to the campaign,” Fr. Adam noted. “Another factor in making this a success in our parish was the fact that materials for the campaign were very explanatory, done well, and the way the Community Counseling Services staff trained us to present the program was very good. I think it gave the volunteers more confidence in their abilities to present the program.”
• St. Patrick Parish in Ottumwa will get back nearly $130,000. Parishioners pledged $446,094 — 142 percent — of the $312,404 goal. The capital campaign was a first for its pastor, Father John Spiegel, who also is pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Bloomfield, which will begin its capital campaign in April.
Initially, he thought St. Patrick’s goal was daunting. “I was a little cautious, taken aback, wondering, ‘How will we do this? How will it work?’” But he viewed the capital campaign as a request from Bishop Amos, in consultation with clergy and laity, to bring the call for financial support of the diocese to its people. “You can’t really speak of a parish apart from the diocese,” Fr. Spiegel said, referring to the relationship as symbiotic. Volunteers explained the needs of the diocese and how St. Patrick Parish would use the money it receives back to supplement its building fund. Parishioners “accepted the message and responded very generously.”
• St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant anticipates getting back $72,267 as a result of its successful campaign. Parishioners pledged $293,429 — 116 percent — of its $256,964 goal.
“It was a relatively hard sell because on the one hand our people are paying their pledges for the new church building and on the other hand in Mount Pleasant many factories and business were closed; as a result many of our parishioners have had a hard time,” said Father Joseph P.V. Phung, pastor.
But he was amazed by the generosity of parishioners and praised God for his goodness. Fr. Phung also expressed thanks to the parish’s board of directors. “Their enthusiasm and positive attitude were crucial to making the campaign great!
“An important lesson we have learned from the campaign was the healing process for our people. During the visits with our parishioners, the board of directors and I have listened to many complaints and unpleasant feelings towards the diocese, the parish, clergy, administration. In most of the occasions, the conversations ended up with understanding, support and pledges,” Fr. Phung added.
• Emily and Mark Allen are co-chairs of the Capital Campaign underway at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton. The campaign has achieved more than 60 percent of its $343,760 goal even though it still has a number of families to contact. Mark Allen attributes the success so far to “a tremendous group of core volunteers, a group of volunteers who from the start of the campaign have delivered this message in a positive, upbeat fashion.”
Allen understands the need for the campaign, spelled out clearly in the materials and by a campaign consultant. “It needed to happen,” he said.
• Judy Willhite, a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf, agrees. Her parish is also in the midst of its campaign to raise $1.3 million.
“I think it’s like a new beginning,” said Willhite, who as an orphan lived at the St. Vincent Center (now diocesan headquarters). She is grateful that the diocese has been able to purchase back the center for its headquarters following bankruptcy.
Even though the economy is down, “we help the economy out by building up the church and one another, supporting one another through the church,” she said. “It’s Lent and it’s a time to think about things in our lives, to think about the church and God. He needs us to do this right now for the diocese … we have to have faith in God that we can do this.”