By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic
Parishioners in the Diocese of Dallas embraced the spirit and substance of the diocese’s “Our Faith…Our Future” capital campaign with such generosity and heart that pledges eclipsed the goal of $125 million before the solicitation period ended in December.
The campaign surpassed its goal in November when money pledged totaled more than $126.3 million, said Jim Urbanus, the diocese’s Director of Development.
Pledges reached $130,426,212 in early January, he said.
“I don’t think it’s too early to pronounce the campaign a success, as it’s the largest capital campaign at a Catholic diocese or archdiocese in the Southwest,” he said. “It can give everybody, as a Catholic, a chance to say, ‘Wow.’ It says we’re a vibrant, robust, growing community that will continue to grow.”
Urbanus said that more than $41 million had been collected for the campaign, which benefits Catholic schools; parishes; the cathedral; Holy Trinity Seminary, and Catholic Charities of Dallas.
He said that more than $7 million has been distributed to parishes, schools, and other Catholic entities from the campaign, which began in January 2013 and is the first diocesan-wide capital campaign in the Diocese of Dallas’ 125-year history.
“It suggests, number one, that the people of the Diocese of Dallas are very, very generous in many ways,” Bishop Kevin J. Farrell said. “This city has a great reputation for being a very philanthropic community. My heart and my gratitude go out to all the people of Dallas for their support. Our feasibility study told us we could raise $100 million, and we believed we could raise $125 million.
“This is a gift that will keep on giving for the next 125 years.”
The bishop said he was profoundly grateful for the hard work of the volunteer leadership committee’s executive group that included Norma and Harry Longwell; Lydia and Dan Novakov, and Mary and Rich Templeton.
Bill Keffler, chief operating officer of the Diocese of Dallas, called the campaign “one of the largest and most ambitious fundraising initiatives by any Catholic diocese in the country, which is quite a statement for the campaign vision established by Bishop Farrell.”
Keffler said that the campaign underscored diocesan-wide dedication.
“The surpassing of our $125 million capital campaign goal is a tremendous tribute to the generosity of our Catholic community and the admirable commitment of our many parish campaign volunteers,” he said.
Urbanus said that parishes held their “Our Faith…Our Future” campaigns during five “blocks,” or time spans, each of which lasted about six months.
He said that 45 of the 76 parishes that participated in the campaign exceeded their pledge goal.
“Thirty percent of what a parish raises in money collected is returned to the parish,” Urbanus said. “A parish that exceeds its target in collected money has access to 70 percent of that money.”
He said that Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Garland set a pledge goal of $1.2 million and raised $3,342,683—279 percent of the goal.
Ed Schaffler, who leads the campaign’s distribution committee, said that oversight is a priority.
“We’re a quality-control point, making sure that the funds were being used in the ways for which they were raised,” said Schaffler, who, with his wife, Jane, serves on the “Our Faith…Our Future” campaign’s Leadership Committee. “It’s an important check and balance.
“I am very impressed with the fact that our diocese has been able to galvanize the people of the diocese to support these causes. It’s very rewarding to see all that is happening. We have Bishop Farrell’s leadership to thank.”
Msgr. Larry Pichard, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Frisco, said that he appreciated his parishioners’ generosity.
“They really rose to the occasion,” Msgr. Pichard said. “It was an offering to the Lord and to the diocese. I was worrying about making our goal because we struggled during the advance gift stage. People really stepped up to the plate and hit a home run.
“We’re very pleased and proud of our people.”
By Dec. 29, St. Francis of Assisi had raised $3,768,450 in pledges and $392,845 in payments—189 percent of the parish’s pledge goal of $1,995,000, Urbanus said.
Msgr. Pichard said that when his parish requests its disbursement from the campaign, the funds will go toward reducing the $7 million debt for the new church.
Frisco’s explosive growth has produced a need for the parish to build additional classrooms for the 2,500 children and youth in faith formation, Msgr. Pichard said.
“We need more classrooms and meeting places for our hugely expanding parishioner base,” he said. “We have 7,000 people at Mass on a weekend. We can’t start building the other buildings until we pay off the church.”
The importance of participating in the capital campaign hit home with St. Francis of Assisi parishioners Marie and Ray Jacko.
Marie Jacko said that she liked the small-meeting setting in which she and her husband learned about the “Our Faith…Our Future” campaign.
“It was presented in a way without a lot of pressure,” she said. “We were told to go home, think about it and pray about it. One of the things that I particularly liked was that a certain percentage of the money was coming back to the parish. We love our church. We’re interested in where the money goes.
“There are needs at St. Francis, with so many ministries, as there are so many more Catholics here than when we moved from Pittsburgh in 1996.”