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Archives After completion of a feasibility study, diocese to launch effort to raise $15 million
Diocese, parishes prepare for capital campaign

June 14, 2017

By James D. Crowley

Ogdensburg - Bishop Terry R. LaValley, after consultation, has made the decision to move forward with a capital campaign to be conducted in all parishes of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. The campaign is expected to generate up to $15 million over the next four years.

Bishop LaValley’s decision is in response to a feasibility study recommendation that the diocese undertake the campaign, with 75% of the total funds being directed to the needs of local parishes and 25% being directed to diocesan needs.

Feasibility study
In December 2016, the diocese retained Guidance In Giving, to undertake a feasibility study to determine the level of support and financial potential for a major fundraising campaign.

Guidance In Giving, Inc. is a national Catholic organization serving as stewardship, development and campaign counsel to dioceses, parishes and Catholic schools. The firm has extensive experience in conducting capital campaigns and implementing stewardship in Catholic dioceses, parishes and schools throughout the United States

“Looking at some sort of financial campaign seemed like a natural follow-up to our Living Stones Planning Process,” said Bishop LaValley. “Our plans for making our parishes vibrant led to the question of how we would get the resources to support that vitality.

“Our plans show the need for more personnel, more training, stronger programs and materials for various programs,” he said, “and all of these things take resources on the parish level.”

The feasibility study measured the level of interest and financial potential for the campaign. It also tested model campaign case statements and determined the impact of the Living Stones process on a potential capital campaign.

Representatives from Guidance In Giving conducted personal interviews with all pastors and a representative number of retired priests.

Additionally, 50 lay people were interviewed to give their feedback to the questions posed in the feasibility study.

A direct mail questionnaire was sent to 5000 Catholic households throughout the diocese to obtain their input. Included in the mailing was a letter from Bishop LaValley, a survey form and a return envelope. Nineteen percent of the surveys were completed and returned, providing valuable information about the feasibility of a capital campaign. The feedback was very positive in favor of a capital campaign.

“We’re very happy with the consulting process used by Guidance In Giving,” said Scott Lalone, Director of Development for the Diocese. “Generally, a ten percent response to a survey is considered to be a good response. We had nearly double that number, which is outstanding. That response and the face to face interviews give us a solid basis upon which decisions can be made.”

The decision to conduct a feasibility study follows consultations with the Diocesan Finance Council, Investment Advisory Committee, the Priests’ Council, Diocesan Pastoral Council and the Episcopal Council. All of these bodies recommended that the diocese consider a capital campaign.

“To be successful we had to have the support and dedication of a wide base,” said Bishop LaValley. “I wanted input from all our consultative boards before we made any decision on this campaign. The support of our consultative bodies and the responses to the feasibility study told us that we had overwhelming support from our pastors and our faithful.”

Support from pastors
“It is a perfect time for a capital campaign,” said Father Joseph Morgan, rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral and pastor of Notre Dame Church in Ogdensburg. “The planning process made it clear that we need additional personnel, training for our laity, and more materials to maintain the vibrancy of our parishes in the future.

“The question turned to ‘How are we going to pay for these things?’” Father Morgan said. “Our planning was leading us to some sort of financial campaign, so this diocesan-wide campaign is a true gift.”

Msgr Dennis Duprey, pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Plattsburgh, said, “This campaign can be very helpful to accomplish our diocesan goals and priorities.  Vibrant parishes, which are hotbeds for vocations, catechesis and the building up of the family need additional resources as we each move ahead with our plans. 

“We know that our needs are varied and extensive, but understand that what together we do now in a diocesan campaign will only strengthen our parishes,” Msgr. Duprey said. “When the need is clear, our people will embrace God’s work as reflected in the ministries of the Church”.

Next steps
Bishop LaValley has decided to retain Guidance In Giving to provide professional counsel in conducting this capital campaign.

“I was pleased with the professionalism of Guidance In Giving in the conduct of the feasibility study. They were thorough, competent and user-friendly,” said Bishop LaValley.

The diocese recently entered into a contract with Guidance In Giving, and the groundwork for the campaign will begin soon.

Steve Babcock, Executive Vice-President of Guidance In Giving, Inc. recommends that the diocese begin working on campaign case statements, establishing a Clergy Advisory Committee, a special gifts committee, and work on campaign themes and strategies in order to prepare for the actual campaign in each parish.

Since 75%  percent of the funds contributed to this campaign will remain in the parishes, Guidance In Giving personnel will meet with each pastor to help him to form a leadership team, develop case statements pointing out the parish needs and the proposed use of the funds, and prepare  campaign materials.

It is anticipated that the campaign in the parishes will begin in Spring 2018. The parish portion of the campaign will be conducted in three blocks, at times to be determined.  It is anticipated that redemption of pledges to the campaign will be conducted over a maximum of four years.

Bishop ‘delighted’ with support
“I am delighted that we have the support of our priests and faithful as we undertake this important campaign,” said Bishop LaValley. “We embarked on a bold undertaking in 2014 by setting Diocesan Goals and Priorities.

Every parish is working to establish a culture of vocations, promoting religious vocations and the vocation of marriage to build up our families. Our parishes are seeking to make catechesis more available, not only to our young people, but also to our adults. Training and enabling our laity to undertake their proper role in the parishes is also a priority in all our parishes, so that our priests and deacons can focus on the work that is properly theirs.

“This campaign will give us the resources we need to do the things that we set out to accomplish through the Envisioning Leadership Process,” Bishop LaValley said. “These goals and priorities came from the grass root level, and it is gratifying to see the wide-spread support for a campaign to raise the resources necessary to accomplish them.”

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