Just weeks after the campaign began — the most ambitious fund-raising effort in the 200-plus year history of the Archdiocese of Louisville — the national and local economy went into the tank. It was, many economic analysts said, the most disastrous economic down turn in the U.S. since the Great Depression.
Yet in the face of that dire situation, the campaign continued and now, four years later, there is no doubt the effort was a success.
With several parishes still involved in the final few months of the campaign’s fourth and last fund-raising “wave,” the archdiocese has received funds and pledges that will total more than $46.5 million when the final calculations are complete.
As a direct result of the campaign, new churches were built at St. Peter the Apostle, St. Michael and St. Bernadette parishes. At St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., funds from Building a Future of Hope helped the parish construct its newly-
And all across the 111 parishes of the archdiocese, projects great and small — meaningful, regardless of their size — were realized as a result of the capital campaign.
“We forged ahead in faith,” said Nicholas K. Eve, director of the Office of Steward-ship and Development for the archdiocese. “When we were in the planning stages and organizing the campaign, we had no idea the economy was about to head over a cliff. When it did, it produced an entirely different situation from the one we were considering during our planning.”
Originally, the campaign had a “highly ambitious benchmark goal” of $66 million, Eve noted during last week’s telephone interview.
“When the economy turned in the wrong direction, we had some people who said
‘should we stop, or should we postpone’ what we were doing,” he recalled. “But the consensus of Archbishop (Joseph E.) Kurtz, the staff and the Priests’ Council was that we had achievable goals. We trusted in the Lord.
“We realized that the road wouldn’t always be easy, but if we persevered, we believed we’d be blessed in the end,” he said.
Mathematics of the campaign aside, at its heart when it was launched four years ago were four major goals. They were:
- To deepen the spiritual life of parishes and parishioners through prayer and the stewardship formation process.
- To provide financial resources for the capital, endowed and direct ministry needs of parishes.
- To generate financial resources to address specific archdiocesan initiatives.
- To provide additional tuition assistance for families with children in Catholic elementary and high schools.
“The campaign began with a focus on prayer,” Eve noted, “and at the various ‘thank you’ events for parish volunteers and workers as the campaign comes to an end, those events centered around Benediction and prayer with the archbishop. This campaign was not only about accomplishing physical programs and initiatives in parishes, but was also intended to help parishioners deepen their spiritual life in prayer.”
And that’s exactly what’s happened, he added.
“We’ve been successful, not only from the stewardship perspective, but from the understanding that we’re all together in this,” he said. “We’re all one in the body of Christ. The numbers, the funds we’ve collected certainly speaks to the generosity of our parishioners. But the success of the campaign also has provided an opportunity for people to realize from parishes in the Southern Kentucky missions, to the Cathedral of the Assumption, in all 111 parishes and in all 24 counties, we comprise one body of faith.”
In addition to the successful melding of financial and spiritual campaign goals, Eve noted some specific archdiocesan needs that were addressed by the Building a Future of Hope effort.
- About $3.7 million was raised to help finance the education of seminarians.
- The priests’ retirement fund received $2.8 million in gifts and pledges.
- Nearly $2 million was collected or pledged to the parish assistance fund.
- The newly-created Long Term Legacy Fund received gifts and pledges of $1.2 million.
- Multicultural ministry programs were supported by gifts and pledges of just under a million dollars.
- And $3.8 million has been collected or pledged for the tuition assistance program.
“There were a lot of parish needs addressed,” Eve added. “Some of them might seem mundane — a paved parking lot, roof repair or new heating and air conditioning — but to the specific parish those represent great needs. The campaign made meeting those needs possible and at the same time addressed the needs of the archdiocese as a whole, too.”
Archbishop Kurtz likes to say that “healthy parishes make for a healthy diocese,” Eve noted. And the Building a Future of Hope campaign has taken steps toward that end, he said.
“There is no question that this was a success and a blessing for the archdiocese,” Eve said. “At the parish level, needs were addressed that might otherwise not have been, and at the same time we addressed the need for added funding for retired priests and future priests, too.
“It was a wonderful partnership.”