Parish leaders at heart of campaign’s success

By  Diocese of Hamilton
  • February 2, 2020

As more parishes take the leap of faith that is the Diocese of Hamilton’s “One Heart, One Soul” Campaign, pastors play an instrumental role, of course.

Supporting them, however, in an equally vital way are volunteers who agree to help guide the parish through the campaign process. “I shudder to think where we’d be in the campaign without the enormous assistance of parish leaders,” said Francis Doyle, director of stewardship and development for the diocese. “For many pastors, these volunteers are the reason the pastors can take on the additional responsibility of a campaign while still ministering to all the ongoing needs of their parish.”

“One Heart, One Soul” has had a strong first two waves — more than $15 million has been raised toward the $35-million goal of the campaign, and nearly 60 per cent of the parishes and missions of the diocese have yet to participate.

The volunteer leaders in those two waves — the Pilot Wave and Wave 1 — have met challenges and seen wide-ranging positives from the campaign’s success at their parishes. Here’s a sampling of what parish leaders have to say about what went right, what didn’t, and what advice they have for leaders in the coming waves.


Blaine and Patti Field

Blessed Sacrament, Burford

Pilot Wave

The campaign process resulted in an unexpected victory over cynicism for Blaine Field, who led the volunteer effort at Blessed Sacrament in Burford with his wife, Patti, and Blessed Sacrament’s pastor, Fr. Peter Ciallella.

“There is a very big part of me that gets cynical in this day and age of headlines, drama in politics, bad people taking advantage of others and the nonstop sensationalizing of bad acts of others,” Field said. “I felt that each meeting (with fellow parishioners) ended with me being thankful to share a discussion with others about what is most important in their lives, and it was never politics, money or negativity but their children, family, lives and where they came from and where they are going.

“It was truly an inspirational exercise to meet a D-Day survivor and his wife and have them light up to tell us about their children and lives before they came to our parish. I will never forget that meeting.” 

Patti Field also emphasized the opportunity to get to know others at Blessed Sacrament. “We met so many great people that we passed in church and never had never met.”

Their work was effective, with the Blessed Sacrament campaign raising nearly $235,000 in gifts and pledges, well over the parish’s baseline goal of $175,000. The parish also has the highest participation rate among parishes, at higher than 65 per cent.

But there were challenges, and communication was at the heart of those. 

  • Regarding the volunteer team members: “Communicate with the them regularly so they know if they need help, it is readily available,” Patti Field said.
  • Regarding prospective donors: “The leader should be willing to be persistent,” Blaine Field said, using his wife as an example. “The time and persistence to set a meeting is key. The meetings were the easy part.” 

When meeting with other parishioners to secure a pledge, he said a simple message is key: “You give money and we build a strong parish and diocese.”

The Fields, parishioners since 1992, also saw their work as a chance to give back to the parish.


Dave Weber

St. Augustine’s, Dundas

Wave 1

For Dave Weber, the personal nature of the “One Heart, One Soul” Campaign — phone calls and visits with other parishioners — was effective for St. Augustine’s Parish in Dundas.

“I learned so much about what is really important to those with a real passion for St. Augustine’s,” Weber said. “In many cases, the discussions are much more than a request for support. It is a chance to engage in a positive dialogue with a fellow parishioner. Take that attitude and you’ll find the entire process rewarding.”

Coming into the campaign, with Fr. Scott Whitfield taking over as pastor, St. Augustine’s faced a number of challenges.

“St. Augustine’s had not had an official fundraising campaign in decades,” Weber said. “The campaign came on the heels of a major renovation and the arrival of a new priest.

“I was a little worried about our ability to make our goal. It seemed like a big mountain to climb. We decided to follow the template provided by the diocese and the Steier Group,” the consulting firm hired to manage the campaign.

The effort resulted in the parish raising more than $280,000 in gifts and pledges against a target of $270,000.

“We were pleasantly surprised that so many embraced the campaign through donations and volunteering their time. … The parishioners at St. Augustine’s were very receptive — and generous. This was inspiring to us,” said Weber, a St. Augustine’s parishioner since 1996, who guided the parish effort with Fr. Whitfield and Patricia Anderson, parish minister. 

His advice to leaders in later waves? “Ensure your parish priest is engaged 100 per cent. Follow the template provided for the campaign and surround yourself with passionate volunteers. Do that and you’ll meet your fundraising goals. And, of course, don’t forget prayer!”

Weber said that in addition to being able to serve his parish and to meet and work with “many wonderful parishioners,” he found a particularly noteworthy benefit from the campaign:

“It provided a real sense of the Holy Spirit moving through our parish.”


Steve and Rosemary Marsh,

Holy Rosary, Burlington

Wave 1 

The “One Heart, One Soul” Campaign was a learning experience for Steve and Rosemary Marsh, parishioners of Holy Rosary Parish in Burlington for the past 20 years.

“I learned a lot about the (campaign) process, the parish and my fellow parishioners,” Rosemary said. “I feel closer to my parish as a result.”

She gave high marks to Holy Rosary’s pastor, Fr. Martin Vallely, whom she praised as “very involved and encouraging and organized.” The consulting firm hired by the diocese for the campaign also played a role, she said. “With Father’s guidance and (the consultant’s) expertise, the process of managing through the campaign seemed less daunting and went quite smoothly.”

The Marshes emphasized the “unifying” nature of working with other parishioners on a major parish project.

“The team of volunteers really united in our common goal,” Rosemary said. “This gave us an occasion to get to know them better” and helped the Marshes “to build even stronger community ties.”

Even as Holy Rosary went easily past its goal of $433,000 — as of mid-January, the parish had raised nearly $510,000 in gifts and pledges — there were challenges. Those included parish contact information that wasn’t up-to-date, making efforts to reach prospective donors difficult.

Rosemary called communication the key to the campaign and encouraged “an open mind” for leaders in later waves.

“It was a super experience for me. I am happy I participated.”


Doug Behl

St. Mark, Kitchener

Wave 1

What were some of the positives of being a parish leader in the “One Heart, One Soul” Campaign? For Doug Behl of St. Mark’s in Kitchener, the list is long:

“An opportunity to be of service, achieve a goal, make a difference, meet people, have some fun, turn skeptics into supporters, make new friends, have others tell you they enjoyed your company and be an enthusiastic supporter of the parish.”

Overall, he said, “It was a fantastic experience. It was fun to see the skepticism, trust the process to deliver and then exceed our target.”

Behl worked with Fr. Steve Murrin, pastor of St. Mark’s, secretary Pam Olinski and a team of more than a dozen volunteers to help the parish not only surpass its $294,000 goal by $45,000 but to boast a participation rate among parishioners of nearly 50 per cent.

“There was a great team atmosphere, and everyone pitched in to do their part,” Behl said.

The face-to-face aspect of the campaign was especially noteworthy for Behl, who joined the parish in 2010.

“It was a great opportunity to meet people and get to know them better,” he said. “I had the pleasure to visit people in their home, meet their family, hear some of their stories and make it a real visit. I would have never had this opportunity without this campaign.”

Behl offered some practical tips:

  • “Enthusiasm makes the difference.” (Norman Vincent Peale)
  • “Time goes by quickly, so stay on top of your plan.” 
  • “Give everyone a chance to participate in any way possible. It could lead to surprising pledges and gifts.”
  • “Fear not.” (Luke 2:10)

Tom Beacock

Sacred Heart, Paris

Pilot Wave

Tom Beacock sees a long-term benefit from the “One Heart, One Soul” Campaign at Sacred Heart Parish in Paris.

“It felt like an opportunity for our generation to step up and make a contribution which our children and grandchildren will benefit from in the future.”

Beacock knows a little bit about the importance of passing something on to the next generation. He has been a Sacred Heart parishioner all of his 71 years, and his parents and his mother’s parents also were parishioners of Sacred Heart, which has a history that dates to 1837. 

The goal of the Sacred Heart campaign was to raise funds to build a parish centre, as well as address some “long-overdue” repairs and improvements.

The parish’s baseline goal was $199,000, but Sacred Heart set a higher goal of $300,000. As of mid-January, the parish had exceeded both, raising nearly $315,000 in gifts and pledges.

Beacock saw immediate benefits in other ways.

“When we started the campaign, we really were three separate parish communities: those who attended the 5 p.m. Mass on Saturdays, those who attended the 9 a.m. Mass on Sundays and those who attended the 11 a.m. Mass. Our Sacred Heart School had been closed and moved to another part of town. We had lost the ability to gather in the school gym for social gatherings. Simply stated, our parishioners did not know one another.

“The campaign promoted gatherings of our parishioners, an opportunity to meet and get to know others attending Sacred Heart. Most important, through discussions it established a common goal to build a parish centre.”

There were challenges, to be sure, Beacock said. One was developing a complete and accurate parish database. With that accomplished, the challenge has turned into a benefit. Another challenge, he said, was combating misinformation about where the money was going.

For Beacock personally, a positive was “the opportunity to meet other parishioners and to get to know our relatively new parish priest (Fr. Joseph Okoko) much better.


Luke McAuley and Karin Voisin

Our Lady of Lourdes, Waterloo

Wave 1

To Luke McAuley, taking a lead role in the “One Heart, One Soul” Campaign at Our Lady of Lourdes in Waterloo was a lot of work — at times overwhelming and worrisome. In the end, though, he said, it was “exhilarating.”

The work was “worth the efforts,” McAuley said.

“A large positive was the opportunity to work with members of our parish and to get to know them on a more personal basis, rather than a ‘Good morning’ at church,” said McAuley, a parishioner for more than 25 years. “The support of our parishioners to achieve our goals was also very rewarding.”

McAuley’s self-described “sidekick” in leadership, Karin Voisin, has been at Our Lady of Lourdes since 2015. “I’m sure as the much-needed renovations begin (at Our Lady of Lourdes),” she said, “the parishioners who supported the campaign will feel pride that they helped.”

The parish’s campaign had a baseline goal of $495,000, which was exceeded — by mid-January, the parish had raised more than $540,000 — and a challenge goal of $640,000.

In addition to the focus on the parish’s projects, which were mainly needed repairs and a reserve fund for future needs, McAuley sees the priorities of the diocese as “important goals.” He mentioned campus ministry in particular. Voisin expressed particular admiration for Bishop Douglas Crosby’s emphasis on helping “parishes in need,” as well as keeping churches open and “being optimistic that the campaign would instill more involvement in parish life.” 

The two said their challenges included combating some parishioners’ negative impressions of the campaign, particularly with regard to how the money would be used and how much was asked of them. The two also recommended brainstorming at the beginning of the campaign about who and how many to approach as potential volunteers and communicating with the volunteers regularly.

The pastor’s active support is “necessary and key to the success of the campaign,” Voisin said, praising Fr. Rafal Tomon, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, for being active and clearly supportive during the campaign.


Loretta Mastandrea

Regina Mundi, Hamilton

Wave 1

A leadership role in a fundraising campaign was a new adventure for Loretta Mastandrea of Regina Mundi Parish in Hamilton, and “a very positive one,” she said.

“I’m glad I took part in the campaign,” she said. “It was wonderful to meet new people and get in touch with others I know already.” She also benefited from “gaining insight into their feelings on the campaign, the parish and the priest.”

The Regina Mundi effort led also by its pastor, Fr. Adam Voisin, was notably successful. The parish raised about $455,000 in pledges and gifts, well more than its baseline goal of $390,000 and past its public goal of $450,000.

Parishioners were eager to talk, said Mastandrea, a member of the parish for 40 years. “They were very cordial, very kind with their time and views,” even if they decided not to give. “They asked questions, and I was able to clear up some issues they had.”

For others headed into the process, Mastandrea recommends “a positive attitude.” Be ready to listen, she said.

“Some people have stories that are important to them, and they want to share.”


Brian Land

St. Dominic, Oakville

Pilot Wave

Brian Land’s experience with the successful “One Heart, One Soul” Campaign at St. Dominic in Oakville was rewarding for a number of reasons, he said, but one was unexpected: “a closer parish community.”

His experience left him with the advice “jump at the opportunity” if you are asked to volunteer in a parish campaign. He had other observations and advice for parishes, including:

• Your greatest asset will be an enthusiastic and proactive pastor (such as St. Dominic’s Ranjan D’Sa).

• Face-to-face meetings are a key to success. 

• Communication with your volunteers will guarantee superior results.

Volunteers in the St. Dominic effort “found that this process moved them from their comfort zone, resulting in personal growth.”

He said the campaign’s challenges included allaying volunteers’ fears about how the request for support would be made and convincing parishioners that the diocese is not directly benefiting financially from the campaign.

With $403,000 raised as of mid-January, the parish clearly overcame the challenges, surpassing its baseline goal of $400,000.

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