Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese celebrates successful capital campaign
By Tom Davidson / Beaver County Times
Tues. Jan. 27, 2015
PITTSBURGH -- Using the generosity of people's pledges from their wallets as a guide, faithful Catholics' hearts are in the right place here, as evidenced by the results of the first diocesan-wide capital campaign in the history of the Catholic Church in the Pittsburgh area.
"Long before modern communication techniques, Jesus told us about a practical way to measure the fervor of our faith," Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik said Sunday at a news conference announcing the results of the campaign. "In the Sermon on the Mount, he told his followers, 'For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.'
"Based on that teaching, I can confidently report that the faithful of the Diocese of Pittsburgh have a great heart for God and for the church," said Zubik, an Ambridge native.
Called Our Campaign for the Church Alive!, the campaign's goal was to raise $125 million from the 200 parishes in the diocese to use at both the diocesan and parish levels in ways beyond the day-to-day operations of both.
The campaign garnered pledges of $230.3 million -- almost double the amount of the goal -- and $62.7 million has been received to date, the diocese said in a news release.
"I am most grateful to God for planting the seeds of faith, faithfulness and generosity within the hearts of the people who make up the Diocese of Pittsburgh," Zubik said.
More than 44,000 donors representing about 130,000 Catholics in parishes in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence, and Washington counties, took part in the campaign. The smallest donation was the contents of piggybanks from children who brought up the gifts Sunday at a Mass of thanksgiving Zubik celebrated at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.
The largest donation was $10 million, Zubik said. Most of the pledges averaged about $5,000 and were from "working-class" Catholics, he said.
Priests and deacons in the diocese pledged 800 percent of their original goal of $500,000 -- $3.9 million in total.
"For most of our clergy and laity, this is truly sacrificial giving," Zubik said. "I am humbled by their love for their parishes and for the Church of Pittsburgh."
St. Monica, which serves people in the Upper Beaver Valley, gathered $2.2 million in pledges, tops in Beaver County. All but six of the 19 parishes in The Times' coverage area met their target for the campaign, with the other 13 parishes exceeding their goal.
More than 70 percent of campaign funds will directly or indirectly benefit parishes, according to a diocesan news release.
The initial target was $50 million for parishes; they are now anticipated to receive approximately $96 million. Diocesan-wide programs and ministries will receive about $15 million more than the original target of $75 million.
The campaign will also support 17 priorities across the diocese, including evangelization, grants for children in Catholic elementary and secondary schools, religious education, seminarian formation, support for retired and senior priests, Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center, and Catholic brothers and sisters in missions.
None of the funds are designated for regular operating expenses of parishes or the diocese.
“The people who served as our campaign volunteers didn’t learn to be fundraisers; they became evangelizers who called others to put their treasure where their heart is,” Zubik said.
To ensure the diocesan-wide priorities are followed, a separate nonprofit corporation and volunteer board of directors was created to manage and oversee the campaign funds and make grants based solely on the components in the diocesan case for support.
That board already has awarded nearly $9 million for diocesan-wide priorities such as expanding dental services at the Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center, improving outreach to families of students with special needs, and encouraging vocations to the priesthood. Parishes have received $13 million to date to fund their local priorities.
The success of the campaign does not mean the church is without economic challenges, Zubik said, acknowledging the number of parishes in area that have seen a large decline in population and are struggling financially.
While campaign monies cannot be used for regular operating expenses, the funds are helping many parishes pay for long-deferred maintenance projects and evangelization and pastoral outreach to bring people to Jesus and strengthen the parish, Zubik said.