The Church Alive! - $125 Million Jackpot
“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On August 28, 2013, in the United States of America, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of “I Have a Dream,” given by Atlanta Pastor and Civil Rights Activist, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Dr. King drew on the power of faith to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. The speech gave hope that racism would end, that one would not be judged by the color of one’s skin, but by the content of one’s character. Whether we have a dream of writing a book, sailing around the world, raising a faith-filled family, seeking to affect a positive change in our community so, too, we must take the first step even though “the whole staircase” may not yet be visible.
On September 28, 2007, Bishop Zubik arrived back home from Green Bay, WI to be installed as the 12th Bishop of Pittsburgh. He mentioned that he had a dream for our diocese and part of that dream was that we would be “The Church Alive!” We would care, share, dare, evangelize and help God’s dream come true: that all would be equally cared for and His compassion, mercy and love would be shared by all and with all. And now, 6 years later, he hopes to realize that dream. For the first time in the diocese’s 159 years of existence, each and every Catholic will be asked to participate in a Capital Campaign, insuring that Bishop Zubik’s “The Church Alive!”dream would be fulfilled.
For the Church to become alive, the bishop hopes to raise $125 million to further the Gospel in the 6 counties that comprise our beautiful Diocese of Pittsburgh: Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington. St. Joseph is one of 200 parishes that make up this diocese. I have “good news” “bad news” and “good news” for you. The “good news” is that the Bishop asked us for a favor. The “bad news” is that it’s a big favor – $1 million from St. Joseph Parish. But the “good news” is we have the money – you just have to untie your purse strings! The bishop is asking our parish to raise almost $1 million by making a sacrifice – a 5 year commitment for our Capital Campaign. 60% of the proceeds will go to Bishop Zubik’s dream; 40% of the proceeds will remain at St. Joseph Parish for our dream.
When the Bishop asked me to do this, I immediately thought of my promises of obedience to him and his successors. Because he asked, I freely obliged. “Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do, and I will obey you faithfully; teach me to serve you with complete devotion. I will praise you with all my heart, O Lord my God; I will proclaim your greatness forever.” (Ps 86:11-12) Bishop Robert F. Morneau of Green Bay, WI, a longtime friend and mentor, is a leading bishop in our country on stewardship living. He wrote a booklet entitled “Embracing a Generous Life: The Joyful Spirituality of Stewardship.”
When I entered the priesthood, I never dreamed that I would have to be the instrument of Christ and raise money. As a minister of the Gospel, the truth of Jesus Christ must be preached, not our own self-interests and needs. As we all know, temporalities have their place in our lives. But, I never found it necessary to spend excessive amounts of time preaching about parish needs, parishioners’ donations in the collections, income problems, or debts. This is a betrayal of the Good News. As a priest, nothing is more important to me than Sunday preaching, which I consider a solemn obligation. There is no other time in our week that we will have the attention of such a large segment of our faith community. God’s Word must be preached: it challenges us to believe, and most importantly to live the Gospel that is so radical and so demanding of us all.
When I looked at the tuition rates of the university and seminary I attended, (Catholic University in Washington, DC.), the cost for tuition, room and board for 2013-2014 is $52,000 per year. I attended Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD for my theological seminary training. The charges for that university are $46,158 per year for tuition, room and board, and student fees. I bring these figures to your attention, as they are alarming and shocking to me. So, too, the figure of the $1 million goal that St. Joseph Parish must raise might be to you! I believe that together, we can dream, sacrifice, work, commit, embrace generosity and be caretakers and trustees of God’s many blessings. In our Catholic tradition, the lives of all the saints teach us to share our gifts generously, to grace others’ lives. After all, ALL is gift, ALL is grace, ALL belongs to God! We are being asked, in a nutshell, to be good stewards: to receive, nurture, share and make a return. The psalmist, David challenges us: “What can I make to the Lord, for all the Lord has given to me?” (Ps 116:12)
As a child, we read from the Bible in our family every night. Dad believed that it gave the greatest directions for our lives. Please consider these invitations for us as we envision our campaign.
We need 43 people to come forward for the next 16 weeks, to help insure a successful campaign. Let us take one step at a time and with faith our dreams and our hopes our way will become clear and with trust they will come to fruition. I believe that together we can accomplish our goal. I believe that together we can build the dream. I trust in your faith and your generosity.
As we prepare for this important, historic campaign in our Diocese, and to aid our parish, I depend on your presence, your participation and your prayerful support.
A Prayer for Generosity
Teach us, Good Lord, to serve you as you deserve;
To give and not count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not to seek for rest;
To labor and not to ask for any reward;
Save that of knowing that we are doing your Holy will.
Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord,
-St. Ignatius of Loyola