Capital Campaign

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.

  •  “No one can sell or buy back, what he has unconditionally dedicated to the Lord, whether it is a human being, an animal, or a land, it belongs permanently to the Lord”. (Lev 27:28)
  • “All the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, belongs to the Lord.” (Lev 27:30)  
  • “Moses said, ‘If you come with us, we will share with you all the blessings that the Lord gives us.” (Num 10:32)
  • “There will always be some Israelites who are poor and in need, and so I command you to be generous to them.” (Deut 15:11)
  • “King Hezekiah became very wealthy, and everyone held him in honor. He had storerooms built for his gold, silver, precious stones, spices, shields and other valuable objects. In addition, he had storehouses built for his grain, wine, and olive oil; barns for his cattle; and pens for his sheep. Besides all this, God gave him sheep and cattle and so much other wealth that he built many cities. It was King Hezekiah who blocked the outlet for Gihon Spring and channeled the water to flow through a tunnel to a point inside the walls of Jerusalem. Hezekiah succeeded in everything he did, and even when the ambassadors came to inquire about the unusual event that has happened in the land, God let Hezekiah go his own way only in order to test his character. (2 Chron. 32:27-31)
  • “The law you gave me Lord, means more to me, than all the money in the world.” (Ps 119:72)
  • “Giving to the poor can make up for sin, just as water can put out a blazing fire. Anyone who responds to others with acts of kindness is thinking of the future, because he will find help if he ever falls on hard times.” (Sir 3:30-31)
  • “Never get tired of praying and never miss a chance to give to the poor. (Sir 7:10)
  • “Be cheerful with every gift you make, and when you pay your tithes, do it gladly. Give to the Most High, as He has given to you, just as generously as you can. The Lord always repays and will do it many times over.” (Sir 35:9-11)
  • In Matthew 19:16-30 the story of the “Rich Young Man”, he asked Jesus the $64 million question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life? After Jesus rehearses the litany of the commandments, He tells him “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give money to the poor and you will have riches in heaven, then come and follow Me.” (Mat 19:21) The point of the parable is the young man’s possessions possessed him and the Love of God did not fully possess him. He had to detach from possessions to attach to Jesus. What are our obstacles, impediments, handicaps, and our fears?
  • “For where your heart is, there your treasure will be.” (Lk 12:35)
  • “All the believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another. They would sell their property and possessions, and distribute the money among all, according to what each one needed.” (Acts 2:44-45)
  • “No one should be looking out for his own interests, but for the interests of others.” (1 Cor.10:24)
  • “Every Sunday, each of you should put aside some money, in proportion to what he has earned, and save it up, so that there will be no need to collect money when I come.” (1 Cor 16:2)
  • “Each one should give then as he has decided, not with regret or out of a sense of duty; for God loves the one who gives gladly. And God is able to give you, more than you need, so that you will always have all you need for yourselves and more than enough for every good cause. As the scripture says; He gives generously to the needy; His kindness lasts forever. (2 Cor 9:7-9)
  • “And tell Archippus, ‘Be sure to finish the task you were given the Lord’s Service.’” (Col 4:17)
  • “There is no doubt that the one who blesses, is greater than the one who is blessed.” (Heb 7:7)
  • “We may make our plans, but God has the last word.”  (Prov 16:1)
  •  “Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve.” (1Peter 5:2)
  • “I thank my God for you, every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now. And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus. You are always in my heart! (Phil 1:3-7)
  • “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with everyone.” (Rev 22:21)

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,

Amen.                    

-St. Ignatius of Loyola