Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 15, 2010
Cornerstone of faith reaches out to parishes
Fundraisers hope to raise $2M plus toward seminary, college construction costs
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Parishioners across Edmonton Archdiocese will soon be asked to reach deep into their pockets to help pay for construction of the new St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College.
Parish collections will be held throughout the archdiocese beginning the weekend of Feb. 20-21.
The Cornerstone of Faith campaign is hoping parishioners will contribute $2 million to help cover the $15 million shortfall between the $42.3 million the archdiocese received for selling the former seminary and college property near St. Albert and what it needs to pay for the new buildings currently under construction.
"Our goal is to raise $2 million plus (through the parishes), but the goal of the entire Cornerstone of Faith campaign is $15 million," explained Brian Day, co-chair of the parish leg of the Cornerstone of Faith.
Members of the Cornerstone committee have met with more than 160 parish leaders and pastors at the deanery level to prepare for the campaign.
They conducted information sessions for pastoral councils, finance committees and parish staff in November. In January they conducted leadership sessions for the lay volunteers who will conduct the campaign in each parish.
Each parish, as well as each deanery, has a fundraising goal and many parishes already have written plans on how to meet their goals.
Parish leaders were shown models of successful campaigns, but it is up to them how they run their own campaign, Day said.
"What we told them is 'Here is what a model campaign with proven success (looks like), but we are not going to dictate to you how you run your parish campaign' because every parish is an individual community," he said in an interview. "It is up to the parishes if they want to run a spaghetti dinner or a silent auction or (whatever) they want to do."
Day, a member of Edmonton's St. Thomas More Parish, doesn't foresee any obstacles. "I think the parishes see the reasons why we have to have the campaign and they are behind it."
Campaign co-chair John Wilson, an investment advisor from Spruce Grove, thinks the parish drive will be successful because parish leaders have the right attitude.
"They all walked out (of the leadership sessions) with a very positive attitude saying 'Yeah, we can do this,'" he said in a separate interview.
In response to the economic times, the Cornerstone committee is suggesting parishioners pledge their gift over more than one year, up to four years maximum.
Wilson estimates there are 68,000 registered families in the Edmonton Archdiocese. "If you divide $2 million by 68,000 families for four years, it's not that onerous," he said. "At the same time is a tough economy and we appreciate that people are hurting."
Ron Coulombe, director of the Cornerstone of Faith campaign, said the overall campaign is going well.
"We have been on the campaign for about a year and a half now quietly and we've raised $7.5 million on our $15 million goal."
The figure includes a $4-million grant from the federal government and $3.5 million raised through major donations. "We are blessed with very generous supporters of the Catholic faith," Coulombe said.
He noted a campaign section called the Archdiocese's Family, which includes priests, deacons, Pastoral Centre employees and faculty and staff of the seminary and college, has already raised more than $300,000.
The archdiocese plans to raise the remaining $5.5 million with contributions from corporations, individual donors, other dioceses and the Knights of Columbus.
"(The campaign) is going well despite the economic times and market conditions," Coulombe said. "(One reason behind the success) is that we've got a strong group of supporters here in the archdiocese that understand the importance of the seminary and college to the future of our faith."
Coulombe, a professional fundraiser and a member of Good Shepherd Parish, believes the parish campaign will be successful because parishes are onboard.
"At the leadership sessions we got feedback that the goals for each parish and the overall goal of $2 million is very achievable," he said. Some parishes have even expressed a willingness to increase their campaign goal.
"We are very excited and we are enthusiastic."
Wilson noted there is a parallel campaign going on - a prayer campaign. "We have asked everybody to contribute, but if they can't for some reason, then at least support us in prayer because maybe the prayer will warm the heart of somebody who has the ability of writing a good cheque."
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