By Susan Bailey | CFP Correspondent
“We have inherited a legacy of faith from our ancestors; now it is our turn to pass on a Legacy of Hope to our children and grandchildren,” said Father Leo-Paul LeBlanc, pastor of St. Mary Parish in North Grafton and St. Philip Parish in Grafton, to parishioners at recent receptions.
St Mary’s and St. Philip’s, along with 35 other parishes, are part of block two of the Legacy of Hope campaign. Preparation for this segment of the campaign began over the summer. The active phase of block two ends Jan. 1. Over the six-month timeframe, receptions are held at the parishes to introduce people to Legacy of Hope; the campaign concludes with a commitment weekend.
Each parish is assigned a target amount which is determined by calculations based upon 115% of the 2017 ordinary income from the parish. All parishes are asked to conduct a “good faith effort” and work with their assigned campaign director or team to achieve their target, to the best of their ability.
Father James M. Boland of St. Patrick Parish in Rutland said he worked hard to bring together the right team to run this campaign. “I’m very blessed in that I have wonderful people here at St. Patrick’s who I can turn to and trust. It’s been great to see the pieces of the puzzle start to come together as we continue to meet,” he said.
Father Boland introduced the idea of the campaign to his parishioners over the summer.
“At the beginning of May, I wrote up a bulletin article that alerted everyone that in the fall, our block for the campaign would take place,” he said. “We have started to put in the bulletin the outlines of what we will be doing over these next months. In presenting this campaign, we focus on our parish needs that we need to address. My prayer is that together we will be able to address them, setting St. Patrick’s up well for the future.”
At the Oct. 1 receptions held at St. Mary’s and St. Philip’s, attendees listened to talks and viewed a short video produced by Guidance in Giving, the company directing Legacy of Hope on a diocesan level, which laid out the goals of the Legacy of Hope campaign. Father LeBlanc provided brochures which included a specific list of repairs and improvements that would be made to the parishes with the money garnered from the campaign. (Forty percent of the proceeds are returned to the parish. That amount jumps to 60 percent, if the parish exceeds its target.)
In his presentation to the people, Father LeBlanc stressed the need to think beyond the needs of the parishes, and to embrace a larger vision.
“I sometimes hear from people: ‘Why should we give to the diocese? Why can’t we keep the pledges for our own needs?’ My response is that we are not a Congregational church. We are Catholic. People need to know that there is no separate entity that we call ‘diocese.’ It is not ‘them’ and ‘us.’ There is no ‘them.’ The diocese is ‘us.’”
Katie Hanna, part of the campaign leadership committee for St. Mary’s, shared with parishioners during the reception her desire to support this campaign.
“The bishop in the video stated that we should share the gift of faith. This happens in our families and with each other. I was especially touched by the need to take care of our priests in their retirement, not that they ever really get to retire! I’ve gone from a military background where priests have military retirement to fall on. That’s not the case with diocesan priests so they need us to take care of them as they have taken care of us.”
She encouraged her fellow parishioners to prayerfully consider what they could do.
“We are called to come together as a body of Christ and as a group we can accomplish this goal,” she said. Mrs. Hanna then issued a challenge for each person at the reception to extend a personal invitation to another parishioner to join in the campaign.
Father LaBlanc invited Father Walter J. Riley, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Worcester, a block one parish, to talk about their success in the campaign. Immaculate Conception wrapped up their efforts last spring, reaching 200 percent of their goal with 125 gifts. Father Riley stressed the importance of a good-faith effort between the pastor, the campaign director(s) and the people. He particularly emphasized the need to support retired priests and Catholic education, adding that he would not have had a vocation were it not for attending parochial school.
Also invited was Thomas Dorsz, representing Guidance in Giving. He described how the campaign works and the flexibility people would have in their gift-giving. Explaining that pledges can be fulfilled on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis, the pledge is an indication of one’s giving intention.
“By completing a pledge card, it does not make your pledge a legally binding contract,” Mr. Dorsz told participants. He added that if one’s financial situation should change, arrangements can be made to alter the pledge.
Father Boland is planning to have his commitment weekend in November so that the parish can then concentrate on Advent and Christmas. He admits that running such a campaign is never easy but he is trusting that his parishioners will do their best with the understanding that this is a diocesan effort.
“I always ask my parishioners in regards to matter of projects or money to do one thing: to do their best,” he said. “Not one of us can do this alone. In whatever way we can make a gift of ourselves, we are called to imitate Christ, who himself makes the greatest gift on the cross. All I can do is ask what Christ asks of all of us each day – give your very best to him and to our neighbor. If we can do that, we’ll be successful no matter what.”
This week the African Ministry presented Bishop McManus with its first installment of a $40,000 pledge. Father Enoch K. Kyermateng, ministry chaplain, said, “We are called to pass the faith on the next generation. The Diocese has embraced the Africans…. This is our home.”