Pastors of parishes in the Kitchener-Waterloo area taking part in the first full wave of the One Heart, One Soul Campaign gathered with Bishop Douglas Crosby at St. Anthony Daniel Parish in Kitchener. From left are: Fr. John Redmond (St. Pius X, Brantford), Fr. Jungheon Kwan (St. Paul Chung, Kitchener), Fr. Stephen Murrin (St. Mark, Kitchener), Bishop Crosby, Fr. Lawrence Parent (Blessed Sacrament, Kitchener), Fr. Malcolm Katzenberger (St. Gregory the Great, Cambridge), Fr. Tim Theriault (St. Anthony Daniel), Fr. Paul Mathew (St. John, Dundalk), Fr. Rafal Tomon (Our Lady of Lourdes, Waterloo), and Fr. Venil D’Souza (associate pastor, St. Aloysius, Kitchener).

‘Heartening and inspiring’

By  Diocese of Hamilton
  • December 19, 2019

It was a leap of faith for the Diocese of Hamilton.

With little history throughout the diocese of multiyear fundraising campaigns, how would parishioners react to the $35-million One Heart, One Soul Campaign?

“It wouldn’t be right to say I’m surprised by the generous response we have seen, because the people of the Diocese of Hamilton are always generous,” said Francis Doyle, director of the diocese’s Stewardship and Development Office. “All the same, amid all the negativity and discord and cynicism that we see these days, it is profoundly heartening and inspiring to see the depth of love people have for the Church, and how generously the faithful are giving to the campaign.” 

How generously, exactly? With two “waves” of the campaign completed in 2019 — involving 46 parishes and missions — the diocese has raised nearly $15 million toward its goal. And with two additional waves involving about 80 parishes set for 2020, hopes are high that the $35-million goal is within reach.

At the heart of the campaign is the vision of Bishop Douglas Crosby to renew and strengthen every parish in the diocese. Eighty-five per cent of the funds raised are directed back to parishes for projects of their choosing. Each parish receives a minimum of 75 per cent of what it raises, and a 10 per cent “parishes in need” fund means that some smaller parishes receive even more than they raise. 

“The more solid footing our parishes are on, the more they’re able to accomplish their mission of proclaiming the Gospel,” Doyle said. “Strengthening our parishes means they will be able to bring more people closer to Christ, and to do so far into the future.”

The remaining 15 per cent of funds goes to ministries overseen by the diocese but that each parish has a stake in. 

“We’re also ensuring that we continue to bring Christ to those outside our parishes: in prisons and hospitals, on university campuses, and to migrant workers,” Doyle said. Together with the focus on parishes, he said, “this campaign is an effort to bring about a rising tide that will lift all boats.” 

The success by parishes in the first two waves has been widespread. In the 15-parish Pilot Wave, which took place during the first half of the year, 13 parishes reached the target set by the diocese. 

In the first full wave, which includes 31 parishes and missions, 11 parishes had already reached the target as of early December, with 11 other parishes over 75 per cent and funds still coming in.

What drives a parish’s success? The support and encouragement of the pastor is crucial, of course, but when a pastor and parish leaders are able to enlist a strong team of volunteers, the campaign often takes off. 

“Personal, face-to-face visits are at the heart of this campaign,” Doyle said, “and we can’t do those without parishioners stepping a little bit out of their comfort zone. 

“The beauty of the process is that those visits so often turn into community-building moments. They might start with talk of projects and pledges and financial matters, but they often become about something much more than this. And we’ve seen parishioners who may never have met before now consider each other friends.”

Meanwhile, the nearly 40 parishes and missions in the next wave have begun preparations for their campaigns, which will kick off just after Easter. The challenge in a wave’s early stage is communicating to parishioners the goals and benefits of the campaign. 

“Even though we’ve been at this for almost a year, we are still working on getting the word out about the campaign,” Doyle said. “We have a great story to tell, but many in the diocese are still somewhat unaware of the campaign, why it is important or even what it is.

“I hope that by telling the stories of our successes to this point, those in the coming waves will embrace the campaign even more enthusiastically and allow their parishes to make the most of this great opportunity.” 

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