ST. FRANCIS — More than three years after pilot parishes launched the initial phase of the Faith In Our Future campaign, representatives from 210 parishes will join Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Bishop Richard J. Sklba and Bishop William P. Callahan at a liturgy to celebrate the success of the campaign.
While the archdiocesan celebration, to which the public is invited, will take place at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Sunday, May 23, at 2 p.m., the celebration is being marked by parishes throughout the archdiocese on “celebration weekend,” May 22-23. Each parish celebration will include the showing of a message from Archbishop Listecki.
Following Communion at the cathedral Mass, Archbishop Listecki and the campaign’s chairs, Ed and Diane Zore, will note what Faith In Our Future has accomplished and will announce the amount of money raised to date.
In an interview with your Catholic Herald, Archbishop Listecki praised the “tremendous generosity of faithful Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.”
“To go forward boldly with the plan to pledge tens of millions of dollars is a phenomenal vote of confidence in trust in the church and faith,” he said, noting that such an accomplishment was even more noteworthy because of the economic environment in which it took place.
Aside from the financial resources contributed through Faith In Our Future, the archbishop said the campaign provided another benefit.
“What I witnessed in Faith In Our Future is the energy that it developed – the tremendous commitment that has brought forth many lay men and women who are committed to the church and who live out their faith demonstrably,” he said.
Debra Lethlean, director of the Faith In Our Future campaign, said that more than 15,000 volunteers worked on the campaign in their parishes.
“The grassroots efforts with parishes were impressive,” she said. “Some parishes recruited over 100 volunteers.”
The archbishop and Lethlean gave credit to the priests for their commitment to Faith In Our Future, particularly the Pastors Policy Committee and the Clergy Ownership Committee.
Citing the work of the former, Archbishop Listecki said, “(They did) it in a very objective sense. One was not receiving any consideration or treatment not given to all.”
The archbishop said that when he celebrated regional Masses in the weeks following his Jan. 4 installation and when he did reconciliation services at parishes as part of the Year of Mercy, pastors would point out “with pride” projects their parishes were undertaking.
“‘Hey, archbishop, this is where our Faith In Our Future money is going,’” he said was something he heard on numerous occasions. “People were behind that, helping to shape their parishes.”
Lethlean noted that the parish and archdiocesan Masses are not only a time of celebration, but also thanksgiving.
“It’s truly appropriate that we celebrate on Pentecost Sunday when we give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit,” she said. “Our Catholic community worked hard to raise funds to strengthen Catholic education and faith formation – and it took a leap of faith to launch this historic campaign.”
In addition to acknowledging the work of the Zores and the Faith In Our Future trustees, Archbishop Listecki expressed his gratitude for the efforts made by Bishops Sklba and Callahan for keeping the campaign vibrant during the time the latter served as archdiocesan administrator.
“I appreciate the way they maintained and supported the campaign,” he said.
Archbishop Listecki said the Faith In Our Future campaign taught people “several” lessons, but one in particular stood out.
“One of the things Faith In Our Future has taught all of us is that if we all work together and collaborate, we’re able to address the real difficult issues and go forward,” he said.
Editor’s note: This article was edited and approved for publication by the archdiocese’s development office and office of communications, and by the Faith In Our Future board of trustees.