By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
With a strong Wave 2 of parish campaigns nearly complete, the Diocese of Davenport’s “Upon This Rock” Capital Campaign has crossed the $20 million mark in gifts and pledges. To date, the $28 million campaign is at 72% of its goal, with a third and final wave of 30 parish campaigns slated for spring.
“I am amazed at the progress of Wave 2, and the tremendous effort of parish leadership and volunteers is greatly appreciated,” said Tom Tallman, the diocese’s chief financial officer. A handful of parish commitment weekends are still to come in Wave 2. Six parishes have exceeded their goal with several very close, he noted. The capital campaign has three purposes: to support priests in their retirement, to educate seminarians and to benefit parishes throughout the diocese.
Mark Armstrong, a campaign chair at St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg, said a team effort of 18 volunteers helped the parish reach its goal. Campaign co-chairs are Mark and Anna Armstrong and Keith and Lori Stecker. “We took the entire parish list and each volunteer took names that they were comfortable contacting. This made for a more personal approach. At the end of the meeting, all names were distributed,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said Father David Wilkening, the parish’s pastor, “asked us to pray one Hail Mary and the campaign prayer before we called each person. When volunteers had exhausted all the efforts to contact the parishioners they could, Lori and Anna took the final list and made one last effort to contact them. It might have been a phone call or text message. But one final effort was made.” Father Wilkening also spoke from the pulpit, bulletin announcements were made and special intentions offered at daily and weekend Masses.
St. Mary parish was “very receptive and understood the importance of the campaign,” Armstrong said. “Our parish is very committed to promoting vocations, the future of the Catholic faith, and caring for those who have given their lives to serve us and the continued viability of our parish.”
Throughout Wave 2, Armstrong said volunteers were texted every Sunday evening to update the pledge totals committed. “This kept our team motivated and committed to reach all the deadlines that had been set.” The parish’s portion of campaign funding might be used for a new church entrance.
Father Troy Richmond, pastor of St. Mary parishes in Oskaloosa and Pella, said he has been “astounded by the generosity of my parishioners and their willingness to support this important work of the Church. Both parishes are blessed to have retired priests, Father Tom and Msgr. Bob Spiegel in Oskaloosa, and Father Bill Wiegand in Pella. Their presence is appreciated and cherished by the parishioners and people who genuinely wish to see our priests given the resources to enjoy their retirement years.”
A successful dinner with Bishop Thomas Zinkula got the campaign off to a good start. “Those in attendance really appreciated the opportunity to interact with the bishop and to learn more
specifics about how the campaign funds would benefit our retired priests and seminarians,” Father Richmond said.
One challenge he identified was the close proximity of the capital campaign to the Annual Diocesan Appeal (ADA). “To emphasize the importance of supporting both, I likened the annual appeal to paying one’s regular monthly utility bills and the capital campaign to saving for a larger project such as replacing a roof.”
The Oskaloosa parish has capital improvements that “need to be addressed, including replacement of some of our older AC units in the church and the parish center,” he said, referring to possible uses for the parish’s share of the capital campaign. In Pella, the parish share will help fund renovation of the faith formation wing and support the growing number of youths served by faith formation ministries.
Preparation for Wave 3, which begins in late April, is underway with recruitment and training of volunteers. “I hope parishioners give for a number of reasons,” Tallman said. “One, we want to take care of our priests — past, present and future — and to do that we have to face the growing challenge of funding their retirement and health care costs and the rising cost of education for seminarians. Two, with a 20% parish share, we see the campaign as a way to strengthen parishes across the diocese.”
The campaign is “founded on stewardship — our belief that we give back in gratitude a portion of what we’ve been given by God. Even during hard times, which we know people and parishes are experiencing in today’s economy, we continue to give — in gratitude for how God has blessed us and trusting that God will provide what we need.”
“Our bottom-line message is a simple one: Pray about what you can do. If you decide that you can give, we’re grateful. If you can’t, we understand.”