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"Faithful move 'Forward in Hope' in supporting the Church" - Bishop Lennon's U.B. column

News of the Diocese

December 7, 2011

A little over a year ago our diocesan capital campaign began with nine parishes, called the pilot parishes, starting to approach parishioners inviting them to support Rooted in Faith--Forward in Hope, the name of the campaign.


Leading up to that beginning in the late fall of 2010, there had been a lengthy process of consultation and conversation within the diocese about the undertaking of such an ambitious initiative. The financial picture in our country, and in particular here in Northeast Ohio, was not encouraging. The list of needs for our diocese was lengthy. The amount of money suggested as a goal was seen by many as much too high. However, even with such apparent obstacles suggesting that this was either not the time to begin or the campaign needed to be refashioned, there was a growing appreciation that our shared needs would not go away.


The conversations continued with many clergy, religious and laity involved individually and as members of committees which were established to focus on the concerns. People involved learned that their ideas and thoughts were being listened to, they were being heard. With that grew a deeper interest in pursuing the idea.


First, the goal was modified to $125 million dollars; second, the initial proposed case statement was reviewed and reviewed many times taking into account ongoing input from many persons until a statement was embraced with a very strong consensus throughout the diocese. People from all areas of the diocese embraced the five major components of the case statement as reflecting their assessment of our needs now and into the future. They are evangelization of all people, strengthening our parishes, supporting Catholic education by assisting parents with tuition and by addressing various needs within our schools, by providing for those who serve us by formation needs and retirement needs for priests, and by addressing needs that Catholic Charities has identified. And third, the growing awareness voiced by one of our pastors was the catalyst that solidified the going forward in hope, the trusting in God and one another! The pastor said where there are needs, we need to address them!


While there were challenges to going forward with the campaign, increasingly people saw failure to do so would result in lost opportunities to provide for those in need now and for providing for a future which would continue the good works of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland throughout its eight counties: Ashland, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Summit, and Wayne.


The story of the past year has been a wonderful experience of people throughout the diocese embracing an initiative which will strengthen the Church of the Diocese of Cleveland. The response of the People of God has been overwhelming as testified by the support they have given to the goals of the campaign. A special word of acknowledgment and gratitude must be given to the priests of the diocese who have supported the campaign and have been so generous in the commitment of their time. Their work on the parish level in large measure has accounted for the outstanding success of the campaign.


Beginning with the nine pilot parishes, the pastors, those who assist them as staff and volunteers, and the parishioners have been responding generously and enthusiastically to the meeting of the expressed needs. This response comes from newly formed parishes resulting from mergers to parishes well over a hundred years old, from parishes in the inner cities to those in the rural areas of the diocese, from parishes with small congregations to those with truly huge numbers of parishioners. Truly, it seems everyone wants to be part of this great work--being Rooted in Faith, it is not surprising!


The idea of having a campaign was motivated by two reasons. First, the desirability to provide significant assistance for needs and programs going forward. The second reason was my desire to have our entire diocese work on something that affects all of us and provides for people now and into the future. Since the Second Vatican Council calls each diocese a CHURCH, it was my conviction that an initiative such as Rooted in Faith--Forward in Hope was a very tangible and visible way for all of us being the CHURCH of the Diocese of Cleveland.


Late in the fall of 2011 the campaign, with well less than half the parishes actively involved at this point, with the other parishes yet to get involved in 2012, is over fifty percent of goal in pledges--over $64 million dollars in cash and pledges.


This speaks so well of our Faith and of our Hope. By working together as a diocese in service to God and for the good of His people much had been accomplished to date. The journey continues to build God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.


I am truly privileged to be one with you, the Christian Faithful of the CHURCH of Cleveland.



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