Diocese kicks off capital campaign

By Patricia Kasten | The Compass | September 19, 2019

‘one by One’ initiative seeks to raise $70 million for six ministry areas

GREEN BAY — The Diocese of Green Bay has embarked on a two-year campaign that seeks to raise $70 million. Called “one by One,” the campaign involves each of the diocese’s 157 parishes in fundraising efforts to cover six areas of ministry needs. These range from parish needs to Catholic schools to vocations.

“Jesus calls us, one by one, to follow him,” explained Bishop David Ricken on the campaign’s website, one.catholicfoundationgb.org. “This ongoing call invites us to consider how we can better build the Kingdom of God in our families, our church and our world.”

The campaign seeks to fund six key areas:

  • Parishes
  • Catholic schools and faith formation programs
  • Social services outreach
  • Vocations
  • Evangelizing families and individuals to discover, follow, worship and share Jesus
  • Modernized communication strategies.

While the capital campaign is new, it is based on the theme of discipleship which Bishop Ricken has emphasized since his episcopal installation here in 2008. In his first pastoral letter (November 2009), “A New Moment for Catechesis,” he wrote: “What I am really calling for here is that all of us see our relationship to Jesus Christ as the most central one of our lives.” (Read Bishop Ricken’s column at this link.)

Since then, through diocesan initiatives, school and parish planning, personnel enrichment, exploratory sessions, countless homilies and teachings, Bishop Ricken has continued to stress this call to a relationship with Jesus that leads people to become not just believers, but missionary disciples.

In his 2014 pastoral letter – “Disciples on the Way” — the bishop invited everyone on “a journey of deepening our prayer life, of learning to be better disciples ourselves and of making disciples of others for the sake of the Kingdom of God.”

All this has led to this capital campaign for current needs in the areas of faith formation, vocations, evangelization, charities and service and — receiving the most focus — parish life.

“This campaign is designed to be of immediate assistance to the needs we have right now,” Bishop Ricken said in the campaign video. “It’s really about restoring hope. And people can be hopeful when they know they are loved, they’re cared for, they’re challenged. … one By One is really about the restoration of hope and the sense of the dignity of the human person.”

$30 million stays in parishes

Of the goal of $70 million, to be raised over the next two years, $30 million will stay in parishes.

“The parish is the place where the people of God gather to offer worship and sacrifice to God and where they grow in deeper intimacy with Christ and the church through the sacramental life of faith. It is where we welcome others and strive to build a family of love by our communion with Christ and one another,” Bishop Ricken wrote in his 2011 pastoral letter, “Parishes: Called to be Holy, Fully Engaged, Fully Alive.”

For every dollar the diocese’s 157 parishes raises, the plan calls for 50 cents to be returned to parishes. This equals $30 million raised by a successful campaign, plus 50% of everything each parish collects above their personal parish goal.

The parish goals were set at 115% of their annual, three-year average offertory collection. This is also how the diocesan goal of $70 million was determined: $60 million plus $10 million. Bishop Ricken has set a personal goal of raising $10 million and has already been meeting with individual families.

Goals set using feasibility study

Josh Diedrich, executive director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Green Bay, explained that the goals were set using a feasibility study involving all pastors and pastoral leaders.

Diedrich explained that a standard formula is used to decide any campaign’s goal.

“The typical formula for this — whether you are in the Diocese of Green Bay, Diocese of Allentown (Pa.), or the Diocese of Austin in Texas — is you’ll look at what the offertory in the diocese is and then typically they add a little more to that,” Diedrich said. “In our case, they took the offertory of all the parishes in the diocese and we added 15% to that.”

Where will the money go?

In determining the needs, the diocese followed its 2016 mission statement: “As friends and followers of Jesus, we are devoted to fostering households and communities of discipleship through the mission and ministry of the Catholic Church.”

Just as the diocese underwent mission and vision planning over the past few years, parishes have been asked to do their own visioning and planning about how to reach out to people and help them discover Jesus. That has led to varying priorities for parishes.

“When you look at the case for the campaign,” Diedrich said, “the needs that have been identified, many of our parishes have some capital needs.” He said these include parking lots, carpet or repainting, upgraded sound systems, more staff for faith formation or adult education, or enhanced music ministry.

Campaign priorities

At the diocesan level, various needs also surfaced in the above listed areas. The campaign’s $70 million will go to these areas of priority:

  • “Building vibrant parishes” will target $30 million to help parishes engage in “works of mercy,” especially for those needing spiritual or emotional care, as well as reaching out to those “who live at the margins of society.”
  • “Strengthening Catholic Education” will receive $19,075,000 from the campaign. These funds will go toward “strengthening the Catholic character” of schools; facility updates; marketing, outreach and promotion; strengthening faith formation programs and youth ministry; and “evangelizing and forming families and households of discipleship.”
  • Catholic Charities will receive $6,050,000. This will help expand outreach and services into more areas of the diocese; providing addiction outreach services and addressing homelessness through increased outreach to St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter in Green Bay and grants to other homeless shelters in northeast Wisconsin.
  • Vocation efforts in the diocese will receive $8,285,000 for marketing and outreach; financial support to those in priestly formation; renovations and improvements at Camp Tekakwitha in Shawano County; and increased presence at the Newman Centers at UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay.
  • Support for Evangelization and Discipleship will be allotted $3,590,000. This will be used to offer parishes both resources and support to develop programs promoting discipleship, increase the number and frequency of evangelization courses and discipleship seminars; train more laity and clergy in care and healing ministries; enhance chaplaincy presence in hospitals, long-term health care facilities and prisons; strengthen rural parishes; and promote the inclusion of all ethnic and minority groups.
  • Improved diocesan technology and communication strategies will receive $3 million.

Pilot parishes already engaged

The one by One campaign will run for two years. Parishes will be engaged in four different phases. Pilot parishes started the campaign in January. Additional parishes moved into the campaign in July, and the rest will become engaged in January 2020 and July 2020.

As parishes come on board, their pastors and pastoral leaders will meet with individual families to discuss their personal goals and gifts to the campaign. This follows the one by One plan of personal encounter. One question people may have when approached about this campaign is how to determine what they should give. Diedrich has heard this often.

“I’ve always had this feeling and, especially in our (family’s own) charitable giving,” he said, “‘No gift is the same in each family. God has blessed each of us in very different ways.’ I just encourage people to pray about what God is asking them to give to this campaign.  … That’s a conversation between that person, or that family, and God and it’s a beautiful gift, a wonderful gift.”

Bishop’s Appeal will continue

Regular diocesan collections, such as the Bishop’s Appeal, as well as parish offertory collections will continue during the one by One campaign.

“The urgency,” Diedrich said, “is that we know we have to do things differently here in our diocese. As we see the number of families that are part of our church decrease, we know that we have to change things a little bit, change the ways that we invite people to participate and grow in their relationship with Jesus. This campaign is an opportunity to do that and the thread that binds each of these elements (parish or diocesan), … is really that call for people to embrace missionary discipleship, to get closer to God and then to be called forth to be a leader in the church.”

Keeping eyes to the future

As the Diocese of Green Bay embarks on this campaign, Bishop Ricken said he keeps his eyes to the future.

“Our faith community is a gift from previous generations of Catholics,” he told The Compass. “Our parishes, Catholic schools, Catholic Charities programs and faith formation activities would not exist if it were not for the vision and sacrifice of those who came before us. Today, we are called to renew our mission and vision as the Diocese of Green Bay.

“Jesus calls us, one by one, to follow him,” the bishop added. “This ongoing call invites us to consider how we can better build the Kingdom of God in our families, our church and our world.”

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