Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 10, 2010
Cornerstone of Faith gathers steam
Parishioners generously support fundraising campaign for St. Joseph Seminary, Newman Theology College
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - For a project that has drawn its share of public criticism, fundraising for construction of the new St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College has been excellent.
Parish collections to raise $2 million toward the construction costs have been held throughout the archdiocese since Feb. 20. As of April 26, more than $1.27 million (or 64 per cent of the goal) had been reached with several parishes only in the early stages of their campaigns.
"I am very confident that we will make that $2 million," said Brian Day, co-chair of the parish leg of the Cornerstone of Faith.
The total goal of the Cornerstone campaign is to raise $15 million for construction of the new seminary and college.
Ten Edmonton parishes and eight outside the city had already met their goals by the end of April.
St. Edmund Parish has raised $26,235 - 94 per cent of its goal. Reaching and likely exceeding its $28,000 goal will be "no problem," said a pleased Father Leo Cordeau.
"We had a committee work on the fundraising. About eight to 10 people were involved, and they organized the whole thing," Cordeau told the WCR.
"I didn't know what was going to happen, to tell you the truth. We've never had anything like this before, so I couldn't say in advance what would happen. I was pleasantly surprised that it went so well."
Indeed, an inner city parish, St. Alphonsus, exceeded its $16,400 goal in only three weeks.
Many rural parishes are far removed geographically from the college and seminary, but that has not stopped them from conducting successful fundraising campaigns.
"I have to admit that I was surprised by how quickly the money came in from some of the parishes and how far they went over their goal," Day said.
Our Lady of Peace in Innisfail set a goal of $16,000 and has already raised $23,212. Our Lady of the Foothills Parish in Hinton had a goal of $22,400 and at last count had raised nearly $37,000.
The Hinton parish closely followed the instructions it was given by chief fundraiser Ron Coulombe and had great success, said Marg Rooks, campaign coordinator in the parish.
Known for its generosity, the parish lived up to its reputation, said Rooks, attributing the success to prayer at the campaign's inception.
"We stressed the need for more priests and more lay workers, and I think that really touched home. We have a wonderful priest here, and we just love him (Father Brian Inglis)," said Rooks.
Parishioners recognize that priests are aging and the need exists for more good priests like Inglis, she said.
As a wind-down for the spring campaign, the parish hosted a potluck supper recently, attended by 68 parishioners. If the archdiocese falls short of its fundraising goal, she expects that the parish will "bring the campaign back to life again in the fall."
PARISH KEEPS ON GIVING
Holy Family Parish in St. Albert has already surpassed its $90,000 goal and plans to continue raising money.
"The parishioners have been very responsive," said Vera Fischer, office administrator at Holy Family.
"What we've been doing is giving information back to parishioners. Every few weeks we'll give them a little Cornerstone update, letting them know what percentage of people have contributed so far and how much we've contributed and where we are with our goals."
The parish showed the Cornerstone video, conducted a mass mail-out of information, brought in guest speakers and established a team of parishioners to answer questions about the campaign.
Fischer attributes the good response to the parish's close connection with the seminary, which was previously located on Mark Messier Trail, close to Holy Family Church. Having numerous priests come through the parish over the years, the parishioners have a natural affinity with the cause.
Holy Family's pastor, Father Mitch Fidyka, wants to continue raising money until the overall campaign has met its target, she said.
Day said when he and other archdiocesan organizers first met with 160 parish representatives for the campaign in November, they heard complaints about construction costs being too high and the facilities too lavish.
"We needed to get the right information out to them. That was the goal during that period," he said.
"When we did a second set of sessions where we were talking about how to raise a successful campaign, that question (of complaints) didn't come up at all."
Parishioners had faced the fact that building the new facilities was more cost effective than patching up the crumbling buildings on the previous site, he said.
Touring the seminary and college construction site April 30, Day was pleased with the progress, particularly the awe-inspiring chapel.
MONEY WELL SPENT
He was also pleased to learn that the construction is proceeding on schedule and Newman College will be finished for the start of classes in September.
Of the college and seminary, he said, "If I were to sum it up in just a few words: money well spent. I think we will have a very nice facility that will attract seminarians. We've built the facility larger than we need right now, to accommodate 60 seminarians, and I would like to see it full."
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