Parishes reap benefits from Capital Campaign

By Barb Arland-Fye
Children in religious education class at St. Mary Parish in Solon created cards to express their appreciation for the pastor, Father Jim Vrba, while he was recovering from illness in December. The children are seated at tables in the lower level of the parish center which was finished off with help from capital campaign funds.

Supporting the diocesan-wide capital campaign was a no-brainer for St. Mary Parish in Solon because a money-back incentive helped parishioners finish the lower level of their parish life center. St. Mary parishes in Lone Tree and Nichols and St. Joseph Parish in Hills hope to purchase a building for a collaborative religious education program with the help of campaign funds. And Ss. Mary & Patrick Parish in West Burlington made aesthetically pleasing improvements to its parish center with campaign funds. These parishes’ projects are among dozens being undertaken around the diocese with funds they are receiving back from the successful $22 million capital campaign that concluded in August 2010.

To date, $12.75 million (58.7 percent) has been collected and a total of $2.4 million has been returned to parishes through the campaign’s financial incentive. On a biannual basis, each parish receives 20 percent of the money its donors have paid toward their pledges and 50 percent of funds received after the campaign goal has been exceeded. Last month, for example, the Davenport Diocese distributed $400,000 to parishes and to the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City. All together nearly $2.4 million has been paid to these entities, said Sister Laura Goedken, OP, the diocese’s development director. The campaign’s overarching goals were to strengthen the Church of the Diocese of Davenport, assist parishes, support clergy and seminarians and reach out to the people of the diocese.

Solon parishioners conducted their capital campaign alongside a construction project to complete the lower level of the parish life center built in 2006. Parishioners desired more space for catechetical classes and overnight retreats with shower/locker room facilities.

“People are willing to give money to things they can see being done. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to get things started with construction,” explained parishioner Jeff Harney, who serves on the parish’s finance and administration committee and works as senior construction manager for the University of Iowa in Iowa City.


During the campaign, organizers invited parishioners to get a sneak peek of construction progress. That strategy worked. Donors more than doubled the $251,614 goal by pledging $533,085. “The capital campaign was both a win for the diocese and for our parish as well,” Harney said.

The approximately $500,000 project was paid for with a combination of campaign and other funds and completed in May 2011. The lower level features seven multipurpose rooms, two of which can be divided into two more rooms and one of which the youth and the Knights of Columbus share. “With the dividers, we have nine new spaces and a large gathering space in the middle,” said Father James Vrba, pastor. The lower level also has shower and locker facilities, a warming kitchen and large storage room.

Lone Tree, Nichols and Hills parishes hope to use their share of campaign proceeds toward purchase of a building close by St. Mary Parish in Lone Tree that would serve as a cluster religious education center.

The inside of the renovated St. Mary’s parish center in Solon.

“It has the possibility of a vision becoming reality. We have close to 80 students in religious education for the three parishes,” said Parish Life Ad­min­istrator Carol Kaalberg, who serves all three. “We’re in the beginning stages of putting this religious education program together as a cluster parish. The three of us are working together for the common good.”

The campaign’s success was based on convincing parishioners in all three parishes to see the bigger picture. Lone Tree’s goal was $40,156, pledges totaled $46,500; Nichols’ goal was $24,021, pledges totaled $27,370; Hills’ goal was $38,975, pledges totaled $53,230.

“People come through when they realize there is a need and we’re part of a larger Church rather than just our individual parish communities,” Kaalberg said. She believes the parishes’ children will benefit from learning in a “facility that is conducive to what we are practicing and preaching.”

Explaining how both the diocese and parish benefit from the capital campaign translated into success for Ss. Mary & Patrick Parish in West Burlington and St. Mary Parish in Dodgeville, said their pastor, Father David Steinle. The West Burlington parish’s goal was $313,689, pledges totaled $412,058. The Dodgeville parish’s goal was $60,912, pledges totaled $67,295.

“It’s a win-win for both, and therefore the ministries of the diocese can be enhanced and so can our parishes and our projects,” Fr. Steinle said.

Both parishes plan to use their share of campaign funds toward current and future maintenance projects. For starters, Dodge­ville is putting new shingles on the parish house and garage and east church overhang and West Burlington has done some remodeling of the parish center.

Bill Brune, of West Burlington, was among the campaign leaders for Ss. Mary & Patrick. “We generally have a very willing and ready group of people in our parish who are ready to support a good cause,” he said. The 20 percent campaign rebate provided a good incentive, he added. The end result is a remodeling project of the parish center “that has changed the building’s look considerably.”

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