Blaine and Patti Field, here with Fr. Peter Ciallella at the diocesan kickoff event for the One Heart, One Soul Campaign, are the general chairs for the campaign at Blessed Sacrament in Burford, below. Photo courtesy Blessed Sacrament Parish

Pilot Wave soars past campaign’s target

By  Diocese of Hamilton
  • July 12, 2019

 What a takeoff! 

With a total of nearly $5 million raised as of early July, the 15 parishes in the Pilot Wave of the Diocese of Hamilton’s One Heart, One Soul Campaign have topped their collective target of about $4.5 million, with more coming in.

The campaign is aimed at strengthening parishes throughout the diocese, with a particularly strong impact on parishes in need, and several shared diocesan ministries.

For Fr. Peter Ciallella, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Burford, Ont., and administrator of the mission church of St. Anthony Daniel in Scotland, the campaign has had significant meaning.

“The campaign creates a wider sense of Church in the diocese,” Ciallella said. “We have shown our commitment and willingness to help, and the diocese has responded in kind.”

At St. Anthony Daniel, Ciallella said, “The campaign ensures that we can make improvements to the church structure but leave a healthy investment for future projects. As a small community, we will always need savings to ensure the health and viability of the parish for years to come.”

For Blessed Sacrament, he said, the parish until recently had been making little progress over the past decade on repaying a loan. “The campaign sped up the repayment of the loan by over five years,” he said. “In three years, we will have repaid our loan, as well as have made major improvements that had been deferred because of the loan.”

A key feature of the campaign is that 10 per cent of funds raised go to parishes in need. If a parish reaches its target, the campaign will match that amount by up to 50 per cent.

In the case of Ciallella’s churches, both have exceeded their targets and are still adding to their totals. For St. Anthony Daniel, the 50 per cent match translates to an additional $15,000 beyond what it raises, most of which stays with the church. For Blessed Sacrament, the 35 per cent match it has earned will yield $61,250 for the parish.

In addition, the success of the campaign “gives us breathing room to make investments in programs and activities that we would not have considered in the past,” Ciallella said. “For example, in the fall we are inviting a Catholic evangelization team to lead a retreat for our Grade 8 students.  That requires resources and a commitment. Now, we don’t always have to defer our funds for the physical structure. We can look at ways to invest in our young people and families.” 

Ciallella also noted that his churches are bucking a trend seen elsewhere in Canada.

“A recent article in The Catholic Register cited a statistic of the rate of the closures of Christian churches (Catholic and Protestant) in Canada: approximately 800 per year.  Most churches are in rural areas, where there are diminishing populations and less resources to draw from. I’m happy to say that both Blessed Sacrament and St. Anthony Daniel will not fall in that category.  We will be sustainable for years to come.”    

Beyond the sheer number of dollars raised by St. Anthony Daniel and Blessed Sacrament, perhaps more impressive is the campaign participation rate — more than 50 per cent for Blessed Sacrament and more than 60 per cent for St. Anthony Daniel. The funding “match” was a key reason for the high participation rate, Ciallella said, as well as the tireless work of parish volunteers. 

Along with more than $1.6 million in gifts from other supportive donors and organizations, the One Heart, One Soul Campaign has raised more than $6.5 million of the overall $35 million goal. The parishes of the Pilot Wave have had other successes:

• Seven of the 15 parishes had topped their campaign minimum target as of early July, with most of the rest within striking distance.

• Holy Rosary in Guelph had raised nearly $700,000 with 39 per cent participation rate.

• The parish with the most pledges was St. Catherine of Siena of Hamilton with 319.

As Ciallella looks back on his parishes’ success, the campaign theme resonates with him.

“The theme of ‘One Heart, One Soul’ (Acts 4:32) speaks volumes,” he said. “It speaks of our deep Christian roots of attending to the needs of all the members of the family of God, as well as the communities in need. St. Paul in his work of evangelization always asked the communities that had more to help those in need (Galatians 2:10).

“The recent popes, like St. John Paul II, Benedict and Francis, use the term ‘solidarity.’ Solidarity helps both the giver and the receiver. The one receiving can do more in terms of ministry and outreach, and the one giving receives a sense of gratification and contentment knowing that the assistance they offer can have far-reaching impact.”  

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