Final wave of campaign kicks off

By Michelle Martin
Sunday, August 21, 2016

As the To Teach Who Christ Is campaign kicks off its sixth and final wave, organizers are confident that it will meet its goal, both of raising $350 million and helping parishes and schools throughout the archdiocese share the Gospel.

John Osterlund, chief development officer for the archdiocese’s Office of St ewa rdship and Development, said the campaign had received $333 million in pledges as of Aug. 9, with 64 parishes just launching their campaigns.

Those parishes have a combined goal of more than $43.6 million.

Meetings for pastors and lay leaders in those parishes have drawn more than 1,000 people, who will then take the message to their own parishioners, Osterlund said.

The campaign, which kicked off in 2013, aims to raise $150 million for parishes to spend as they see fit, based on each parish keeping 60 percent of the money they raise toward their individual goals, which are set by the archdiocese. Another $150 million will go toward the creation of an endowed scholarship fund for Catholic schools and some direct scholarships. The remainder of the proceeds will support religious education, help improve academic excellence in Catholic schools and help economically disadvantaged parishes with critical facility needs.

Parish goals have been set at 130 percent of the amount each parish received in the previous year’s offertory collection. Parishes also can choose set higher goals and keep 100 percent of the money they receive in excess if the goal set by the archdiocese.

Doing that means they can benefit from the campaign advice and administration offered by the archdiocese instead of paying to run their own campaign, Osterlund said.

That’s exactly what Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glenview is doing, said the pastor, Father Jeremiah Boland.

“You hopefully don’t run a campaign too often, so we wanted to think about where we are now and where want to be in the future,” he said.

After consulting with the parish council, finance council, school board and others, parish leaders decided that they want to convert the convent — built to house 35 sisters and now houses two — into a parish ministry and religious education center, while still offering accommodations for the two sisters who live there.

They also want to add five STEM labs to the school, and create a hearing loop in the church that would allow people who use hearing aids to get audio directly from the church sound system.

In addition, there are a number of smaller projects, from replacing steps to installing signage, that need to be done, Boland said.

Those plans raise the goal for Our Lady of Perpetual Help from the required $3.9 million to $5.4 million.

“There’s a lot of confidence that this is going to be successful,” Boland said. “There’s nobody saying this is a crazy idea. There’s a lot of support for these projects. They kind of touch all areas of parish life.”

What’s more, parishioners who came to a kick-off meeting with Archbishop Cupich were persuaded by the case he made for the archdiocesan needs that will be addressed by the campaign, he said.

At St. Alexander’s Parish in Palos Heights, parish leaders delayed participation in the campaign until the last wave because the parish had its own capital campaign five years ago to raise $3.5 million to retire debt.

“Our people are very generous and they love the parish, they love the church,” said Father Martin Michniewicz, the pastor, but he wanted to have as much time as possible between the two campaigns.

St. Alexander’s parish goal is $1.875 million, Osterlund said.

Michniewicz said the bulk of the money that stays in the parish will go to update the church, doing everything from installing new flooring to refinishing the pews.

“The heart and center of our great parish is our church,” he said. “It is where we primarily teach who Christ is, and it’s the building that needs the most updating.”

For more about the campaign, visit


  • catholic schools
  • to teach who christ is
  • our lady of perpetual help
  • st. alexander

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