Gail Kraig and the rest of the Holy Family Parish staff have tasked themselves with a big undertaking: bringing the largest parish in the archdiocese closer to Jesus Christ.
Holy Family Parish in Fond du Lac, a parish of more than 6,500 people in a community rooted in the Catholic tradition and Catholic education, works hard to engage all parishioners in the life of the Church while encouraging them to be generous.
“The basic fundamental approach that we’ve had and what I’ve really tried to keep in mind all the time is how by what we’re doing — the way we’re doing it, the methods, the processes, the attitude — how is that allowing us to bring people closer to Jesus Christ?” Kraig, the director of advancement in various areas of the parish, such as finance and administration, mission, parish life and stewardship, said.
The area of stewardship and encouraging generosity is one of the priorities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee since its synod in 2014. Holy Family Parish hopes that its parishioners will want to become involved in the parish — including donating their time, talent and treasure — if the parish provides them with opportunities to grow in their relationship with Christ.
Although the parish ministers work hard to organize and plan programming that will engage a variety of age groups, the dedicated community members, those who would like to be involved, are often busy or distracted with other commitments, said Kraig.
“Fond du Lac is a very unique community,” she said. “When you’re talking about time, talent and treasure, you’re talking about people in a town of 46,000 who are being asked and pulled in a number of different directions for their service, for their time, for their talents and for their financial contributions.”
That’s why the ministries at Holy Family are intentional, efficient and effective. The parish has a parish life coordinator that puts together all types of events, like a trivia night, an Oktoberfest night, different groups and ministries, festivals and dinners, to name a few. The coordinator also put together a living nativity last Christmas, which Kraig said drew new people into the Church and parish.
“We know (people) don’t have a lot of discretionary time,” Kraig said. “When they come for anything, when they come to volunteer, when they come to give their gifts and talents, when they come to socialize, when they come to be spiritually fed, we want to make sure we’re not wasting their time with programming that isn’t good.”
But that solid programming can’t happen without stewardship, without volunteers and without finances.
“We’re here to minister to you to bring you closer to Jesus Christ at all points in your life,” said Kraig. “But the practical side of it is, we need the treasure, we need the time from of all of our good volunteers and we need people’s talents.”
There are various ways Holy Family asks for people to give of their time, talent and treasure. When a family or a couple registers with the parish, they meet one-on-one with Kraig. She is able to talk about more than 100 parish ministries, but she also asks them to consider how they can give to the Church.
“I tell them, ‘We’re a holy family here at Holy Family just like you are a family. How much do you spend on food, to keep your heat and your lights on?’” Kraig said. “‘The same things you do at home, we do here. The financial support you give us helps us to carry out that mission so that we can have facilities and ministries that ultimately work for you when you need them.’”
The parish also reaches out to people through modern means of communication: an updated website, social media and even a parish app.
In addition, the parish recently offered a ministry fair that allowed parishioners to come in and see in what they could become involved with, and in what areas the parish needs help.
“I think it’s wonderful for people when they are able to be such a significant part of the Church in whatever way they are drawn into the stewardship component,” Kraig said. “Stewardship encompasses so many things — it encompasses the financial, the gifts, the time people put in, how people serve the community — but when all those opportunities ingratiate the spirituality of stewardship into their life to do as Jesus did, it’s enriching for people. Once they discover that, it brings a lot more to their life.”