Cardinal Thomas Collins offically launches the $105 million Family of Faith campaign to the public at Toronto's St. Andrew Kim Catholic Church.. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Archdiocese of Toronto launches $105 million campaign

  • May 14, 2014

Updated 10/16/14

TORONTO - With $26.5 million already pledged — including $5 million from a single donor — the Archdiocese of Toronto has officially kicked off one of the largest Church-based fundraising campaigns in Canadian history.

The Family of Faith campaign has set out to raise $105 million to support the spiritual and material needs of Canada's largest diocese, comprising two million Catholics across 225 parishes. Although the goal seems daunting, a successful 10-parish pilot program had Cardinal Thomas Collins talking about the campaign bringing in "at least" that much over the next 18 months.

"This is spectacular," said Collins at a May 15 kickoff event at St. Andrew Kim Church. "It's been remarkable so far. I am astonished and delighted but not all that surprised.

"The goal is $105 million, but if the campaign gets more than that, we won't refuse donations," he quipped.

The pilot program asked 10 hand-picked parishes to raise $7.3 million. They exceeded that target by more than $3 million. In addition, $16 million was raised from several individual donors who made contributions ranging from $100,000 to a $5 million gift from the late Patrick Keenan.

"Sadly, Mr. Keenan just passed away two weeks ago," said Collins. "He was a man of great devotion and generosity in so many ways."

A year ago, Collins released a sweeping pastoral plan that outlined an ambitious vision for the future of the archdiocese. The document encompassed everything from the vitality of parish life, vocations, education, social justice and communications to evangelization and the need to maintain churches and other archdiocese property, particularly St. Michael's Cathedral. The Family of Faith campaign is the funding vehicle to implement that plan.

"We are a loving family, but sometimes a family needs food on the table," Collins said. "It needs a roof, it may need a bigger house. That's what we are facing."

The campaign will be rolled out on a staggered schedule to about 200 more parishes in the coming months. Only 65-70 parishes will be campaigning at any one time in order to minimize the impact of this one-time initiative on other important charitable fundraising, such as the ShareLife campaign.

“They have asked parishioners to continue their support of ShareLife and make a gift to the Family of Faith campaign as a sacrificial gift over and above their regular giving," said ShareLife executive director Arthur Peters. "At the end of the day I believe that the Catholic community understands and recognizes the importance of the ShareLife campaign and will respond generously as they are being asked.”

The way the Family of Faith campaign is structured, each parish is given a target that is 130 per cent of its annual collection revenue. The parish retains 25 per cent of the money to invest in its own parish projects, which can include anything from replacing a roof or repairing a parking lot to investing in youth and other lay ministries, to building parish community. The other 75 per cent goes to the archdiocese. However, if a parish exceeds its goal, the split with the archdiocese is reversed and the parish keeps 75 per cent of whatever is collected above the target.

Nine out of 10 parishes in the pilot program exceeded their target, with six of the nine surpassing $1 million. St. Joseph's parish, for example, was asked for $890,000 but raised $1.5 million.

"The capacity to build new churches, to enrich the youth and lay ministry of our people — this calls for more than just lip service," said St. Joseph donor Colin Saldanha. "It calls for our capacity to put our hands in our pockets and give generously."

The Korean parish of St. Andrew Kim was another overachiever.

“We were able to give about six priests to the diocese in the last 10 years, but I don't think we've given much money," said associate pastor Fr. Matthias Kim. "As an immigrant community we are happy to give back something that we have been receiving for so many years.”

The money sent to the archdiocese goes into two pools. There will be $24 million to build and expand faith-based initiatives such as: youth and young adult ministry; hire staff and develop resources for formation and leadership programs for clergy and laity; and modernize digital communication and education tools. Another $55 million will be devoted to infrastructure, including $25 million to restore St. Michael's Cathedral, $20 million to build new churches and $10 million to renovate older churches.

"We have many older churches that are masterpieces of beauty," Collins said. "Obviously, they require care."

Collins said that much of what the Church tries to do can be accomplished through prayer and dedication, which doesn't cost anything. But there is also a financial reality that must be faced.

"That's what this campaign is about," he said. "It's an effort to provide material support for certain portions of our plans for evangelization. But in order to do that effectively, we live in this world, and we have to pay for it, obviously."

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