Bishop Douglas Crosby and Francis Doyle of the Diocese of Hamilton are confident parishioners will respond to the One Heart, One Soul campaign and its goal of $35 million. Photo by Mickey Conlon

Hamilton putting heart and soul into major campaign

By 
  • March 26, 2019

HAMILTON, ONT. – For St. Catherine of Siena Parish, the Hamilton diocese’s One Heart, One Soul fund-raising campaign could not have arrived at a better time.

There’s a new enthusiasm around the parish, said pastor Fr. Mark Gatto, who since June 2017 has overseen the amalgamation of two existing parishes — Our Lady of Lourdes and Corpus Christi — into one under the St. Catherine of Siena name. The old parishes continue to operate but plans are quickly coming together for the construction of a new church to be built on an eight-acre plot of land the diocese purchased in the 1950s on South Hamilton Mountain in anticipation of the city’s expansion. 

“For us it’s very practical and good timing,” said Gatto of the diocese’s fund-raising drive. “With the building of a new church there’s going to be a debt with that so the timing is good for us.”

Aside from finances, the timing is good because parishioners are sensing the renewal in their spiritual home.

“Now there’s a bit more of a sense among the people, they realize this is actually happening and they’ve settled into the idea of a new parish,” said Gatto.

Through the One Heart, One Soul campaign, Gatto is looking to parishioners for a helping hand to offset the estimated $12 million it will cost to build the new church. The initial goal for St. Catherine of Siena is $775,000, the vast majority of which will help finance construction. (The funds will combine with money from the sale of the two existing properties, funds already on deposit as well as a gift from the diocese.)

St. Catherine of Siena is just one of 118 Hamilton parishes taking on the ambitious challenge of the major fund-raising campaign that kicks off March 25, with a goal of raising $35 million for the renewal and transformation of the diocese. It is the next-door neighbour to the Archdiocese of Toronto, stretching from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay in the north and including towns like Oakville, Burlington, Kitchener and Guelph. 

The aim of One Heart, One Soul is to maintain healthy parishes by engaging Catholics in building for the future, said Bishop Douglas Crosby. Seventy-five per cent of donations will be kept within the parishes where the money was raised, with a further 10 per cent set aside to aid parishes with greater needs, said Crosby. 

For a diocese to remain vibrant and energized, it needs all of its parishes to share in that strength. As Crosby sees it, when the parishes are strong, it follows that the diocese will be as well.

“It’s a diocesan-wide campaign but it’s a campaign that benefits the parishes,” said Crosby. “How the diocese benefits is, strong parishes, strong diocese.”

The Steier Group out of Omaha, Neb., has been enlisted to run the campaign. Crosby said it was chosen for its solid Catholic foundation and its success in running similar campaigns throughout the U.S. 

There are three major focuses of the campaign. Parishes will receive the lion’s share of donations. Fifteen per cent of donations will go towards shared ministries — campus, hospital and prison ministry, as well as ministry to migrant workers — the rest set aside for parishes with “lesser capacity,” smaller parishes with total annual income (offertory and building fund donations) of $300,000 or less in 2017, said Crosby.

“As in every diocese, you have stronger parishes and you have parishes that require greater support,” he said.

Blessed Sacrament in Burford, Ont., a town of just over 1,500, is such a parish. Located in a rural area west of Brantford, it’s one of Hamilton’s smaller parishes. As such, its goals are much less than the urban parishes in the diocese. 

Its initial goal is $175,000 and if parishioners attain that, it will receive a matching amount from the diocese of $61,250, or 35 per cent. Beyond the goal, 85 per cent of funds raised will stay in the parish to help eliminate its debt, do much needed repairs and enhance youth and family ministries. (Each parish surpassing its goals will also keep 85 per cent of those proceeds.) 

With the main focus on the parish, it follows in the spirit of Pope Francis’ call for parish renewal. Each will be able to undertake the programs it feels are most needed at home, said Crosby. It might mean hiring people to take on a new ministry within the parish, repairs or, as in the case of St. Catherine of Siena, a new church building.

“Whatever the projects are, each parish will be different,” he said.

Fourteen parishes will take part in the “pilot wave,” starting March 25 and running through July. Three other waves, over six-month periods, will follow with the campaign coming to a close at the end of 2020.

Preparations for “One Heart, One Soul” began in earnest last summer, but the foundation was laid about four years ago with the hiring of Francis Doyle as director of the diocese’s Stewardship and Development Office. Doyle is on board with building the relationship between parish and diocese.

“Their success is our success,” he said. Crosby and Doyle are both confident Hamilton’s Catholics will be generous. Preliminary studies led them to believe the $35 million target is achievable.

“It takes a lot of people to make a parish thrive and you need resources to support all of that,” said Crosby. “Hopefully, that’s what this fund-raiser will accomplish.”

(More information about One Heart, One Soul is online at www.oneheartonesoul.ca)


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Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.