By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
As the active fundraising for the first wave of the Upon This Rock capital campaign is winding down, the second wave is moving forward. The campaign has advanced beyond 52% of its goal, said Michael Hoffman, former development director of the Diocese of Davenport who now works for a Florida diocese. In one week alone, pledges totaled $470,000. “That was a strong start for only having wave 2 begin in early October,” he said. Some of those pledges were from donors in the first wave.
The threefold purpose of Upon This Rock campaign is to support priests in their retirement, to educate seminarians and to benefit parishes throughout the diocese. Sixteen parishes, called the pilot wave, wound down their campaign in late September. The pilot wave was the first of three campaign waves.
Donor events in wave 2 were held last month for the Riverside and Washington parishes, followed by one for the Pella and Oskaloosa parishes. “They were well attended and there was strong buy-in,” Hoffman said.
Bob McDonald, associate vice president of the Steier Group, the campaign’s consulting firm, said nearly $15.2 million in pledges have been made toward the $28 million goal. Two parishes are leading the way with strong results early in wave 2, he said. Church of All Saints in Keokuk has raised 77% of its goal so far and St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg has raised 59% of its goal as of Oct. 27, McDonald said.
All Saints Pastor Father David Brownfield attributed his parish’s early success to a “great campaign committee and many volunteers. We started discussions with the parish pastoral council and parish finance council and explained the need well to parish leaders,” he said. McDonald and Hoffman “have been very supportive in helping promote the campaign to the parish leaders.”
While wave 2 began shortly after the kickoff for the Annual Diocesan Appeal, Father Brownfield felt parishioners were well informed about the different needs of each campaign through a video the Steier Group created, along with bulletin inserts. Two retired priests who previously served at Church of All Saints appeared in the campaign video, which also helped, Father Brownfield said. “People had nice stories to share about them and it made the campaign real.”
He explained to parishioners how the capital campaign also would benefit parish needs, such as a new organ, the dream of a new parish hall, fixing the school roof and an endowment for the school.
“If we don’t prayerfully support this campaign and financially support it, if we are able, we are basically telling Bishop (Thomas) Zinkula that we don’t need more priests and telling our priests to fend for themselves in retirement,” Father Brownfield said. “I told people, God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). Don’t feel pressure to give a certain amount, but give as much as you can cheerfully give.”
Father Steve Witt, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City, said, “We are off to a good start, largely because of some very generous people, but also because the group of volunteers has done a fine job of getting in touch with people. We haven’t done too much in terms of exotic approaches, just statements from the pulpit, bulletin announcements and soon we will have lay witness talks following Sunday liturgy.” St. Mary plans to use its share of funds to repaint the church interior, last painted in the mid-1980s, he said.