The Love One Another Capital Campaign may have had to hit the “pause” button after its initial launch in early 2020, but that doesn’t mean the $150 million fundraising effort lost any momentum.
After resuming fundraising in 2021, the first 10 parishes to participate in the campaign have already exceeded their cumulative pledge goal — and the subsequent wave of parishes seems poised to follow suit.
“I just think it’s exciting that we’re off to a great start, and we just want to keep that momentum going,” said Andy Gaertner, development director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
The Love One Another Campaign was designed to be conducted in phases, allowing for all 188 parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to undertake the campaign with a pilot “wave” and three additional waves that will be conducted in a staggered fashion through mid-2023. The pilot wave of 10 parishes concluded their campaigns in December, achieving $11.7 million in pledges, or 116 percent of their cumulative goal. The 36 parishes that make up “wave one” began their campaigns in January and are already reporting $4.9 million in pledges.
With the pledge money that has already been raised, combined with lead gift commitments, more than $23 million has been pledged. Pledges are payable over a period of five years.
“We’re really looking at the future to make sure that we’re doing Christ’s work here in our 10 counties, and it’s nice to see the strong response that we’re seeing from our parishes,” said Gaertner.
Fundraising goals are set at 140 percent of the parish offertory, according to the 2019 fiscal year. Sixty percent of all funds raised will return to the parish to benefit that community’s self-identified needs.
“Most people experience the Catholic faith at the local level — at their parish,” said Gaertner. “So, if we want to make sure we’re truly serving the people of God, we have to return money to the parish so that they can expand their ministries and make their parishes stronger, in whatever way the parish feels it needs to have that growth.”
This was a boon to the fundraising efforts at St. Joseph Parish in Lyons, said Fr. Jim Volkert. “The largest amount of funds collected will go to putting our faith into action, which was a great selling point to our parishioners,” he said. St. Joseph’s will use its money to establish a fund that will support participants in parish mission trips locally and nationally, and to pay for needed facility maintenance.
St. Joseph’s parishioners pledged 121 percent of their parish goal, said Fr. Volkert. “Sixty-four households (37 percent) were involved. This is a high percentage of folks,” he said. “I think that the folks are very proud of their parish. We recently celebrated 150 years. They are aware of the commitment and sacrifices that their parents, grandparents (and) great-grandparents made, and they want to continue that legacy so that they can in turn hand it on to future generations.”
St. Francis Borgia Parish in Cedarburg had similar success, exceeding their fundraising goal by 50 percent — “more than any of us expected,” said pastor Fr. Patrick Burns.
While the donors at St. Francis Borgia were motivated by the desire to fund projects at their own parish (including work on the historic 150-year-old church in downtown Cedarburg that serves as their perpetual Eucharistic adoration site), they were also eager to support the archbishop’s initiatives, said Fr. Burns.
“We are not congregational communities but parishes of the local Church and, as such, the priorities of the archbishop are also our priorities,” he said. “The case elements of the archdiocesan portion of the funds are very easy to promote because they include everything from our sister parish in the Dominican Republic to the seminary.”
Those case elements, said Gaertner, are an effort to “make sure that we are serving the people of God in the best way that we can in the 10 counties of our archdiocese. It’s an effort to make sure that we’re doing more work to serve the poor, that we’re strengthening Catholic education (and) that we have tremendous success with vocations right now.”
Of the $150 million campaign goal, $13.5 million is earmarked for serving those in need (expanding programs and services at Catholic Charities, supporting the urban church and parishioners of the archdiocesan sister parish, La Sagrada Familia in the Dominican Republic); $13 million is slated for supporting the formation of priests, deacons, seminarians and lay ministers; $17 million is allocated for Catholic schools; and $16.5 million is planned for strengthening centers of prayer and ministry (updating the Mary Mother of the Church Pastoral Center, funding a new roof for the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, bolstering campus ministry for college students and more). The remainder of the money will be returned to parishes.
“This is really to take the archdiocese and make it ready for the next generation of Catholics, both at the parish level and at the archdiocesan level,” said Gaertner.
For parishes who have yet to commence their fundraising efforts, Fr. Burns advises having a strong case statement with projects that will generate excitement in the parish.
“Our building and grounds committee did a stellar job assessing our building needs, prioritizing projects and getting estimates so that our case elements were well prepared by the time we began the campaign,” he said.
Fr. Volkert will undertake the campaign again in wave one with another of his parishes, St. Charles Borromeo in Burlington.
“My advice to the parishes that will participate in the future is to make the most of this opportunity,” he said. “At St. Charles, we were talking about the need for a capital campaign about three years ago. Love One Another has come at an opportune time for us. Instead of doing this on our own, we get to work with the archdiocese, using the resources provided. It is a win-win: we not only help our parish with immediate needs, but we assist the archdiocese in carrying on the work of the Church.”