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Parish leaders plan ways to use share of money raised in capital campaign

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The archdiocese's two-year, $40 million "Ignite the Faith" capital campaign is capturing the imagination of pastors and parish leaders as they decide how to use money that will be retained by parishes.

"There's excitement about enhancing our ministries and supporting growth in faith in our people," said Father Harry Buse, pastor of St. Leo the Great Parish in Omaha. "This gives us an opportunity to better serve our people and serve the church."

During the campaign, each parish will retain 10 percent of the money raised in the parish.

St. Leo the Great's campaign goal is $1.6 million - and its $160,000 share very likely will be used to enhance youth faith formation, social services ministries and the liturgy, Father Buse said. Parish staff and people on the pastoral council and finance board have all but ruled out using the parish's share on building needs, he said.
"We have an ongoing building fund, and we've been successful in keeping up the physical plant," Father Buse said. "This capital campaign gives us the opportunity to go beyond the brick and mortar."

On the other hand, Father Lloyd Gnirk, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Valley, said after discussions with the pastoral council and parish trustees, parish officials have decided to use their 10 percent - about $44,000 of the parish's $440,000 goal - to begin a building fund that can provide money for a new church or other needs 10 years to 15 years down the road, should the parish continue its current pattern of rapid growth.

The number of parishioners grew by 10 percent at St. John the Evangelist from October 2011 to October 2012, and now the parish is serving close to 500 households, Father Gnirk said.

Meeting such diverse needs is part of the beauty of the capital campaign's design, said Shannan Brommer, director of the Stewardship and Development Office.

"I think we're going to see a nice variety of uses for these funds," she said. "A lot of good can come with this, not just in the dollars raised but the thought process as people consider the needs of each parish."

Other ideas from parishes for their share in the campaign include adding to endowment funds, lowering debt, replacing leaky roofs and fixing cracked parking lots, Brommer said.

With the capital campaign set to begin the first of four waves of parish-based fundraising this summer, pastors have until May 15 to let the archdiocese know how they plan to use their 10 percent share. In rural areas, parishes will keep an additional 40 percent of the money given for educational efforts in their schools or religious education programs.

The rural education funds are part of the $23 million planned for Catholic education across the archdiocese. Campaign funds also will be used to meet the retirement needs of priests and encourage new priestly vocations and to help support faith formation.

Fathers Buse and Gnirk said the capital campaign is being well-received in their parishes.

"It will be a great boost to the archdiocese," Father Buse said.

And many people are involved, with committees made up of dozens of people organized to help run the campaign. Eight couples are serving as general chairs, while 10 priests on a clergy committee are helping establish individual parish goals, place parishes in the fundraising waves and answer questions from pastors.

An executive committee including 71 priests, deacons and lay people has established appropriate solicitation strategies and members are attending special fundraising events and helping identify major donors.

An advisory council of 36 long-time supporters of the archdiocese also has been formed. Its members have served as recruiters and mentors for the executive committee and public supporters of the campaign, Brommer said.

Another benefit to the campaign could be energizing still more people as leadership opportunities arise at the parish level, she said.

"This could ignite new leadership as people are invited to participate in their parishes in meaningful ways," Brommer said.

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