In many ways, Isaiah Turner is a typical seven-year old boy. He loves to play baseball, basketball and football. Art is one of his favorite classes. He listens to his parents and does his chores without complaint.
The first grader is also one of the youngest donors in Our Campaign for The Church Alive!, having pledged $2 a month for the next five years for a total of $120 to support the work of the Church of Pittsburgh. His donation brings new meaning to Bishop Zubik’s call for sacrificial giving.
Isaiah was with his family at Mass at Saint Michael Parish in Elizabeth Township a few weeks ago when the pastor, Father Thomas Wagner, spoke about the importance of the Campaign and asked his parishioners to give generously. Isaiah noticed his mom, Jennifer Turner, starting to complete a pledge form. “Can I fill out one, too?” he asked.
“He was listening to Father,” Jennifer said, “He took the initiative.”
Saint Michael is one of 11 parishes in the just-completed Initial Phase of the Campaign. The goal is to raise a minimum of $125 million over the next five years in about 200 parishes across our diocese in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties for strategic endowment, capital and programming initiatives.
The Campaign will help address the urgent needs in the life of our church — to sustain and strengthen parishes, invigorate evangelization, revitalize sacramental life, support education and formation in the faith, train pastoral and lay leaders, and serve the poor and marginalized.
Why did Isaiah decide to pledge? “To be nice, and if people need money, you can help,” Isaiah said, shrugging his shoulders. He added that it makes him to feel good to help others. His mom agreed.
“My dad raised me to love God above all else,” Jennifer explained. “My faith teaches me that it’s most important to love one another and to help each other within your capabilities.
She also credits lessons learned in religious education classes on Sunday. Led by coordinator Joan Kilgore, the program serves more than 200 children at Saint Michael’s.
“We use the Rice Bowl project during Lent to help teach the children to reach out to those in need and always be thankful for our blessings,” Kilgore said. “They are given cardboard boxes called ‘rice bowls’ and put them together. There’s a slot on top, and the kids collect change throughout Lent. This year we raised $542.”
“The project ties in well with The Church Alive campaign,” Kilgore continued. “It’s a wonderful gift from the heart. We all feel good when we can reach out to others and do the Lord’s work.
“Isaiah gets his example from his mom and dad (Tom Turner). Our parents are the number one catechists,” Kilgore said.
“We came to Saint Michael because Father Wagner was so welcoming,” Jennifer said. “Our three younger children were baptized here.
“I think the Campaign is wonderful. It’s so needed,” she added.
So how will Isaiah earn the money to fulfill his pledge? Isaiah looks at Mom.
“Just like always. You can see what Grandma and our neighbors need help with,” Jennifer tells her son with a smile.
“He’s a very sincere and caring boy,” Jennifer said. “I hope he grows up that way.”