February 17, 2006

Legacy for Our Mission pilot phase draws to successful close

By Sean Gallagher

The pilot phase of the Legacy for Our Mission: For Our Children and the Future campaign that began in 11 archdiocesan parishes last fall is drawing to a successful close.

More than $17 million in pledges have been received that will benefit both the parishes that have raised the funds as well as the archdiocese’s shared ministries and home missions, which include the formation of seminarians and the support of retired priests.

The participation of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis highlights this success, having pledged $6.2 million, which represents more than three-and-a-half times the parish’s annual Sunday and holy day collections.

This will allow the parish to go forward with the construction of a much-needed multipurpose facility that will aid its numerous ministries.

Starting in March, 13 more parishes will begin their participation in the campaign that has a $100 million goal. The remainder of the archdiocese’s parishes will participate in the campaign during the next two years.

St. Pius X parishioner Jerry Semler of Indianapolis, the campaign’s chairman, said that the results to this point are “very encouraging,” adding that the parishes in the campaign so far have well exceeded the goal for the pilot phase. (See also: Cabinet members lead Legacy for Our Mission campaign.)

“The parishioners are very supportive of the overall campaign,” Semler said.

Members of St. Joseph Parish in St. Leon in the Batesville Deanery have been quite successful in their participation thus far, pledging more than $334,000.

Father George Plaster, the pastor of the southeastern Indiana parish, said that he expects a strong growth in the number of parishioners in the coming years due to the parish’s close proximity to Cincinnati, approximately 30 minutes away.

Because of this, the parishioners have identified the need for a new parish life center, the building of which they hope to secure with the funds raised in the campaign. The center will also benefit other parishes in the Batesville Deanery.

“We hope that the addition of a parish life center will be something inviting to other parishes within our deanery from time to time when there may be a need to take advantage of our new facility,” Father Plaster said. “What, I think, brings parishes closer together is when there are facilities that can enable closer relationships socially, spiritually and instructionally.”

Although Father Plaster said that the new parish life center was a “strong motivator” for his parishioners’ participation in Legacy for Our Mission thus far, he also said that they value “helping out the collective archdiocese in the ministry and mission goals for the campaign.”

St. Joseph Parish in St. Leon is one of the archdiocese’s oldest parishes, having been founded in 1841.

SS. Francis and Clare Parish in Greenwood, on the other hand, was established less than 15 years ago.

According to Father Vincent Lampert, SS. Francis and Clare’s pastor, the

900-family parish has grown by 33 percent in just two years and is projecting a possible addition of 600 to 700 families over the next five years.

As a result of this growth, the parish has quickly outgrown its ministry space.

“There are over 400 children in Sunday morning religious education,” Father Lampert said. “We use every nook and cranny we can find, including my office. We use the social hall. We use the narthex. We use offices, and we have a lot of space constraints.”

To address this need, the parish is working toward raising enough funds for the construction of a nine-room building that will be used both for a new parish school and other ministries.

So far, the members of SS. Francis and Clare Parish have pledged $2.25 million for Legacy for Our Mission, which represents more than three times its annual Sunday and holy day collections.

Working to build a school building that will also house other parish ministries could easily focus parishioners on their own needs.

But Father Lampert said that the Catholic identity of the parish should turn its members toward the needs of others.

“We need to recognize that being Catholic means that we have a responsibility for others, whether they’re Catholic or non-Catholic,” he said. “We can focus on our needs, but we also need to focus on the needs of others at the same time.”

St. Simon the Apostle parishioner Richard Pfleger of Indianapolis, the campaign’s associate general chairman and chairman of its leadership phase, said that the participation he’s seen thus far and that which he expects to see in the months to come reflects the deep generosity of Catholics in central and southern Indiana.

“I think that Winston Churchill quote, ‘You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give,’ very accurately describes the attitude of our parishioners in the archdiocese,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of generous people that are willing to look deep into their hearts and see what they can give to help other people who need help.”

St. Bartholomew parishioner David Milroy of Columbus, the campaign’s chairman of the parish phase for southern Indiana, praised the generosity shown thus far in the campaign by archdiocesan Catholics, describing it as “sacrificial.”

“In my experience in working within the archdiocese to try to raise money over time, that’s when people examine most closely their relationship with our Lord and his Church,” Milroy said.

It was this spiritual nature of the Legacy for Our Mission campaign that Father Lampert said, in the end, was the most important part of it.

“One of the things that we try to stress is that we weren’t just raising money for the sake of money,” he said, “but [that] the funds we raise enable us to do the mission that God has given us.” †


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