Building on the planning study and successful, initial planning phases, the diocese's $16 million, Return to the Lord Capital Campaign is nearly in full swing.
Parish leaders and campaign volunteers from the five parishes involved in the first of three waves of parish fundraising met with Bishop Glen John Provost on May 10 at St. Henry in Lake Charles and on May 18 at St. Theodore in Moss Bluff. Nearly 150 attended each dinner to hear more about the campaign and ask the Bishop Glen John Provost and Deacon Glen Bertrand, Director of Stewardship and Development for the diocese, any questions.
At St. Henry, Bernard and Dolores Beaco, longtime supporters of the parish as well as the diocese, noted they, “Think it is a wonderful idea for the diocese. Each of the suggested projects has great need.”
Mr. Beaco said, “I definitely like the idea of including the individual parishes in the contributions. The information presented was very thorough. I hope the people of the diocese respond favorably to this cause. We do intend to be a part of this campaign.”
After each meal, a video was shown detailing the campaign goals. Bishop Provost began his remarks in Moss Bluff by thanking those volunteers who are helping the campaign succeed at their parish and to the parishioners attending in order to learn more. “Everyone's help is needed”, the bishop said, "if we are going to be successful in this effort." Before asking any laity to support this campaign with their financial gifts and pledges, Bishop Provost shared that he initially asked his fellow priests to support the campaign. Bishop Provost challenged his priests to raise the first $100,000 of the $3.2 million sought to support and enhance the priest retirement fund. If they did that, he added, he would match fifty cents of every dollar of their gifts. To date, the clergy have answered his call and have pledged $200,000, with several holding back until their parishes begin fundraising this year.
"Now, I told them, I am still only matching the first $100,000 in pledges," Bishop Provost said, drawing a laugh from the crowd. "They really wanted to make this a sacrifice for me."
Monthly pledge amounts spanning three years or longer have been encouraged. Money coming into the campaign will be distributed semi-annually to programs and efforts targeted for the campaign, including parish projects, restoration work at the Cathedral, the priest retirement and seminary funds and ministry efforts.
“This charitable donation should show the faithful the importance that I place on this campaign” the bishop continued “and I hope people see it and the campaign as personal invitation to do something special for our diocese, not only today, but something that will be lasting for many years to come.”
Johnny and Perky Janese, parishioners of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church – another parish involved in the pilot wave of the campaign – and in the crowd at St. Henry had known something about the reason for the dinner, particularly as it related to the Cathedral.
“I knew the Bishop was going to ask for money to help with the Cathedral, he said. “I did not feel like the whole Diocese should foot the bill. Each church parish is responsible for their church, plus each church is taxed by the Diocese. After hearing the Bishop speak and watching the video, I was better informed and support the campaign.
“The video was very good,” he continued. “The idea that we could specify the percentages to each campaign is really good. Of the pillars of the campaign, talked about in the video, I thought Camp Karol was great. We lose so many young people to other faiths. I think affiliating Camp Karol with Saint Charles Center is good also, because many of our Catholics know little or nothing about the retreat center. This calls attention to it in a positive light.”
The campaign is beginning with a pilot wave of five parishes that were invited to the kick-off dinners. The diocese hopes these parishes will provide a solid start to the campaign. The remaining 34 parishes will begin their campaigns later this year, with their own kick-off dinners and campaign activities.
"The response early on has been tremendous," said Deacon Glen Bertrand, director of the Office of Stewardship and Development. "And an impact already is being made by the campaign as we see the first five parishes coming together and having conversations about their faith and getting more done at their parish."
At St. Theodore, Bishop Provost said the campaign's ultimate goal is bringing people closer to Christ - through strengthening our priests, parishes and ministries.
"I am the diocesan pastor," the bishop said. "My chief hope and desire for this campaign is we will draw closer to Jesus Christ" and “return ourselves and others to His love”.
Frank Foitek, a parishioner of St. Joseph Catholic Church in DeRidder, attended the St. Theodore event. “I knew a bit about the campaign already, but the talk at the dinner by Bishop Provost along with the video were very informative and clarified items for me. I was raised Catholic and have been here in DeRidder since late 50s early 60s and I think such a campaign for our diocese is overdue.” Many others commented at both events that while the entire amount being sought from the people of the diocese as a whole seemed large, the plan for the success of the campaign was well thought out. One attendee from St. Theodore who did not want to be named said, “We all just need to pray and do what we think is right and trust Lord will provide for us!"
The Return to the Lord Capital Campaign is a landmark effort to raise $16 million for priests, parishes and ministries. Each parish will take part in the campaign in one of three waves and each has been provided information on their individual start date. More information about the campaign is available through your parish church or the diocesan Stewardship and Development Office at 337-439-7400.
The campaign will work through parish waves – a pilot wave continuing through July at five parishes then two additional waves – with preparation and implementation running May to October for the first wave and June to November for the second.
Campaign goals announced for the Return to the Lord effort include: Priest Retirement Fund: $3.2 million; Seminary Education Fund: $3.2 million; Parish Share: $3.2 million (approximate). Parishes receive 20 percent of funds raised for the projects and programs they identify at their parish. After meeting their campaign goal, they receive 80 percent of campaign contributions; Restoration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception: $2.4 million; Camp Karol of Saint Charles Center: $1.6 million; Catholic Charities: $800,000; and unfulfilled intentions, campaign costs: $1.6 million.