Parishes Look to Long-Term Needs

Father Terrence Walsh is happy the capital campaign is finally coming to a close for Christ the King Parish in Trumbull. The months of planning and fund-raising were successful, and the parish can finally put a much-needed new roof on the school building… for $50,000.

Father, who was named pastor 2-1/2 years ago, said that when he left his career in sales and entered St. John Fisher Seminary, he had never owned a home. “One of the first lessons I learned as pastor was that things break— and you have to fix them.”

With a 60-year-old parish that needs repairs to the physical plant, the We Stand With Christ Capital Campaign was just what Christ the King needed. The school building, which contains the parish hall, is used for everything from religious education to weekly Bible study, pancake breakfasts, pasta dinners, Catholic movie night and Confirmation faith nights.

Father also anticipates some smaller plumbing repair projects … and hopes that, in the near future, he will be able to undertake a renovation to the sanctuary.

The We Stand With Christ capital campaign has already raised more than $65 million of its $75 million goal, making it the largest and most successful campaign in the 64-year history of the diocese. In recent weeks, parishioners have been asked to make pledges that will benefit the long-term needs of churches and diocesan ministries.

The campaign is led by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and a 26-member executive committee with the support of priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders, whose co-chairs are Brian Young of New Canaan and Father Reggie Norman, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton.

The campaign has designated 50 percent of the funds raised, an estimated $37.5 million, for parish needs. The remaining 50 percent will be invested in Foundations in Education ($12.5 million), Foundations in Faith ($15 million) and Foundations in Charity ($10 million).

While a number of parishes will complete the campaign at the end of June, others will launch their effort in the fall and a number plan to start in 2020.

Father Walsh is confident that Christ the King will surpass its goal of $713,610 and he praises the parish community for its generosity.

“They understand the need and they recognize the importance of sacrificial giving,” he said. “It is a great testimony to them, and I am really grateful for their support … and positive about the future.”

He says the campaign also points to the need for the laity to be involved, adding, “There was no way I could have visited 1,000 families.” The campaign committee members were responsible for reaching out to fellow parishioners, answering questions and asking for pledges.

“Our committee believed in the campaign and they love the Church and our parish,” Father Walsh said. “They also understood the bishop’s decision and the importance of sustaining the Church even during these difficult times.”

Father Frank Hoffmann said that St. John Church in Darien is finishing up the campaign after having surpassed its goal of $1,762,000 and is now preparing to undertake its next major initiative—the parish’s 125th anniversary next year.

He was very pleased with the response to the campaign and said, “Every time I think of how we’ve gone past that number, it is like an alternate reality for me.”

For St. John’s, it means they will be able to complete some deferred maintenance in time for the anniversary celebration. The slate roof on the church, which some have said resembles an English country church, will be repaired. In addition, worn wood floors will be refinished, pathways and entrances will be refurbished, and there will be replantings on the grounds.

Another project he foresees is a new parking lot, which will carry a price tag of $300,000. Repairs, of course, are a common for a church that traces its founding to 1895.

In addition to the maintenance, Father Hoffmann hopes to direct some of the funds toward formation programs, a speakers’ series that would attract a community-wide audience, and digitizing decades of parish records.

Father, who has been pastor for five years, said the success of the campaign can be credited to the generosity of his parishioners and the efforts of committee members.

In recent months, he met with many families and said, “That was one added benefit to the process. Many people I visited I didn’t know directly. They were only names and faces, so this gave me a chance to meet them.”

At St. Roch Church in Greenwich, many parishioners are descendants of the families who built the church a century ago, and Father Carl McIntosh says their strong attachment to the church, along with their devotion to St. Roch, motivated them to participate in the campaign and consider the future needs of the parish as its centennial celebration approaches.

The church foundation was laid in 1920 by Italian masons with rock hewn from a nearby quarry, and in that basement, the first Masses were held so parishioners would not have to walk to Sacred Heart Church in Byram to attend Mass during the winter months.

The overriding need of St. Roch’s is to have the stonework of the church facade and bell tower repointed, in addition to repairs on windows affected by water damage.

Father expects the parish to reach its goal before the campaign ends and said some people have been very generous because they recognize the urgency of the maintenance project. The campaign, which has been going on for four months, recently entered its final phase. For the past few weeks, he has been reminding the parish of the importance of the campaign and plans to have envelopes in the pews to encourage last-minute pledges. He has said that everyone should contribute and no amount is too small.

After the campaign kicked off, he invited people to the rectory to discuss the prospectus, explain
where the money would go, and the detail the parish needs. “It was very well received,” he said.
He also expressed his appreciation for the executive committee, which worked hard to reach out to parishioners and then approach them for donations.

“The campaign committee did the follow-up and each team member had a certain number of parishioners they would meet with, and that went very well,” Father McIntosh said. “After I explained our needs, the parishioners were very supportive of the campaign.”

Father Cyrus Bartolome, who was installed as pastor of Church of the Assumption in Westport
on June 9, has begun assuming the responsibilities of his predecessor, Father Thomas Thorne, who retired.

Assumption surpassed its goal of $1.3 million and has a list of necessary renovations that will be completed in the coming months as it looks toward the celebration of its 150th anniversary in seven years.

“We are going to start the first phase of the renovations,” Father Bartolome said. “We have to repair the sidewalks because it is mandated by the town and for the safety of the people.”

The church has two steeples, both of which need to have the slate replaced. In addition, McGrath Parish Hall in the basement of the church will be renovated.

Parish faith formation projects will also receive funds from the capital campaign.

“It’s a great parish, and I am excited about being here,” Father Bartolome said. “I thank Father Thorne for making it an easy transition. There are things that need to be done, and I am learning as I go. So many people are willing to help, and so many people are dedicated to this parish. And I thank them.”

By Joe Pisani