LAKE CHARLES – The Diocese of Lake Charles Return to the Lord Capital Campaign, which began in October 2015, reported that on December 31, 2016, a total pledged amount for the campaign of $21,269,855.00 – more than $5,000,000 above the original goal of the campaign.
That $16,000,000 goal was determined following a three-month campaign planning study by the Steier Group, a professional fundraising consultant from Omaha, Nebraska.
Following the study Bishop Glen John Provost met with numerous consultative bodies of the diocese to assist him in determining the direction the diocese should move, including
“Some said it couldn’t be done,” Bishop Provost said. “But many contributed sacrificially and generously to far exceed our projected goal. For this I am personally very
grateful to our Heavenly Father, campaign leaders, pastors, parishioners, and the Steier Group. The campaign is a resounding success thanks to a great deal of hard work, cooperation,
The overwhelming success of the pledge phase of the campaign will have significant effects in the diocese for years, perhaps decades to come.
“Return to the Lord was a community event,” the Bishop said. “The campaign brought many people together for a common cause, a cause around which our Catholic people could rally.
“As I said when we began the campaign, there is a spiritual dimension which I will address in my Lenten Pastoral Letter,” he continued. “Return to the Lord is an opportunity
to meet on common ground and move into the future confidently and positively for the good of the Church and those whom we serve.”
Garnering the kind of financial support from the faithful of the diocese was a tremendous effort and Bishop Provost spoke positively of those individuals and families who did not participate, “Generosity is contagious. I am very confident that others who, for whatever reason did not pledge, will step forward once they see the work we have to accomplish proceeding nicely and to a constructive
goal. We have already begun to address our goals. They will take time, as with Camp Karol and the restoration of the Cathedral, but we are moving ahead with every due diligence and with God’s help.”
The campaign began in February 2016 with the “silent phase” and continued with a five-parish pilot wave. The remaining parishes opened their efforts in two waves – 22 running from May to October and 14 from July to December.
The Very Reverend Ruben Buller, the Chief Finance Officer of the Diocese, also noted, “It is incredible to see what we as the local church of Lake Charles can do when we put our minds to it. When we first started all of this, publically many people had great doubts about even reaching the 16 million. It would have been easy to give up then. What we have seen with just the people who have pledged,
there is great belief in the leadership of the diocese. Each person seeing, with the small part or the large part that they have given, how much they can and do contribute to the
furtherance of spreading of the Gospel in the diocese.”
Bishop Provost appointed the Pastors Advisory Council, consisting of chairman Msgr. James Gaddy, Rev. Timothy Goodly, Rev. Msgr. Ronald Groth, Very Rev. Aubrey Guilbeau, Rev. John Huckaby, Rev. Keith Pellerin, Rev. Edward Richard, M.S., Rev. Msgr. Daniel Torres, and Rev. Alan Trouille. This nine-member group provided the Bishop with assistance during the campaign, provided
guidance, helped set campaign policies and procedures, helped determine goal allocations and was his primary source for advice during the effort.
Numerous lay individuals from parishes and communities large and small around the diocese agreed to serve as leaders in this historic effort - six General Chair couples, 30 Honorific Chairs, and 30 members of the Campaign Cabinet.
Campaign goals included $3.2 million for the Priest Retirement Fund, $3.2 million for the Seminarian Education Fund, $2.4 million for Cathedral Restoration $1.6 million for Camp Karol, and $800,000 for Catholic Charities.
In addition, a parish share was adopted, which would return 20 percent of what a parish raises up to the parish goal and then return 80 percent of contributions raised over that goal.
“Over 50 percent of our parishes exceeded their goals,” the Bishop said. “This is extraordinary. Our very competent consultants from Steier Group, who have vast experience with diocesan campaigns, tell us this result is virtually unprecedented.
“The 80/20/20/80 share between diocese and parish makes individual parish initiatives very possible. I think pastors and parishioners are encouraged with the potential and the means to accomplish their dreams.”
Father Buller also pointed out that we must look beyond capital campaign. “Is the Lord calling me to give something and if he is, do I trust that he will make it enough,” he said. “Whatever we give, if we give it in generosity, the Lord can multiply it. God can do great things with anything that we give.”
Twenty parishes achieved 100 percent or more of their goal and four others bettering 90 percent. A total of 7,602 individuals (33 percent of registered parishioners) participated in the campaign in some way and 6,104 (22 percent) made a contribution - an average gift of $3,485.
“My heart is filled with gratitude to the campaign leadership, the pastors, the donors, and the many volunteers who made this accomplishment possible,” Bishop Provost said. “The success of Return to the Lord is also an answer to prayer, the prayers of many.
“During the first year of the campaign, I visited one of our Catholic schools and there the children were participating in the capital campaign by offering their prayers, spiritual
bouquets, and good works,” he said. “Then I knew the campaign would be a success.”