Catholic diocese's Church Alive! fundraising campaign exceeds goals in early phases
The Rev. David Taylor, pastor of St. Charles Lwanga Church, was hesitant to embark on the most ambitious fundraising project the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh ever sponsored.
“This is an economically challenged area. I don't think this parish has any wealthy members, and many members are really financially strapped,” said Taylor, whose church serves residents of Homewood, Wilkinsburg and Lincoln-Lemington.
St. Charles Lwanga raised $570,000, more than twice its target of $210,000, according to the diocese.
The five-year, $125 million Campaign for The Church Alive! enters a new phase this week when 64 more parishes embark on the drive, which began in 2012 and is being extended in stages to all parishes in the diocese.
Parishes will receive at least $50 million of the total raised, according to the diocese; Catholic education will get $42 million; $25 million will go to evangelization; and Catholic Charities and the missions will get $8 million.
Catholics are being asked to give in addition to regular Sunday offerings and the annual Parish Share appeal. About 50 of the diocese's 200 churches have raised about $32 million. Bishop David Zubik raised $35 million.
“It has gone beyond my expectations. Every one of the parishes that has participated in Campaign for The Church Alive! program went over their target goal,” Zubik said.
Without the money, Zubik said, tuition grants for Catholic schools, religious education, technology for secondary schools, Catholic Charities, the education of priests and support for retired priests and other senior citizens would be jeopardized.
Some Catholics say they don't want such programs scaled back or discontinued.
“You can't just take your faith for granted. This kind of sacrifice is important,” Mary Cox, a member of St. Bernard Parish in Mt. Lebanon, said after a morning Mass there last week.
At St. Charles Lwanga, extra money would help. The parish operates a school and two food pantries and is host to meetings for many community activities and social welfare organizations. More than half of the parish's members helped it reach its fundraising target.
“Some members just honestly said they could not contribute. They had very legitimate circumstances,” Taylor said.
The effort comes at a difficult time for the church, which had a decline in membership and school enrollment. Nationally, the church has spent more than $3 billion to settle sexual abuse lawsuits, said Charles Zech, director of the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics at Villanova University.
Zech called it surprising that the Pittsburgh diocese never had a capital campaign before. The Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia had two since 2000, he said.
From 2000 to 2010, church membership among Catholics in Allegheny County declined by 27.2 percent, according to the U.S. congregational membership report released last year by the State College-based Association of Religion Data Archives, which conducted a county-by-county survey of the nation.
At the same time, a poor economy has boosted demands for many of the church's services.
“We certainly know that the cost of schools is increasing. The cost of Catholic Charities is expanding as more people have needed its services,” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.
Zubik said he is surprised by the response so far, especially from the clergy. The diocese set a goal of $500,000 for contributions from priests, who have donated $2.7 million.
The Rev. Bernard Harcarik, who just celebrated 50 years as a priest and is pastor of Prince of Peace Church in the South Side, is donating half of his salary to the campaign.
“Lots of the money comes back to the parish. A lot of it is used for important services,” said Harcarik, whose 1,000-member parish includes college students, tech workers and the elderly.
“We met our target in a very diverse church,” he said.
Prince of Peace raised $630,000.
Ed McCloskey of Mt. Lebanon, a member of St. Ann parish in Castle Shannon, said he likes the approach the diocese has taken with the fundraising appeal.
“They are only asking for what you can give. Also, the parish gets a large share of it,” he said.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ferrante trial: Cyanide order form in plain sight
- Wilkinsburg couple arrested after baby girl dies following beating
- State’s ‘public-private’ transportation deal will replace 53 bridges in Allegheny County
- Port Authority steps closer to linking Oakland and Downtown, makes switch from Highmark to Aetna
- Film Office announces two Downtown road closures Monday
- Howard Hanna family donates $1M for business student scholarships at University of Pittsburgh
- Rail maintenance in Mt. Washington Transit Tunnel to cause bus detours Saturday morning
- PennDOT warns of delays next week on Butler Street near Highland Park Bridge
- Bridge work to close Cliff Mine Road this weekend
- Newsmaker: Stephen J. Bagnato Jr.
- Report linking field surface to cancer elicits Mt. Lebanon protest