By Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, diocesan vicar for development
Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) parish in Astoria, underwent the pilot phase of the Generations of Faith capital campaign which began in the Diocese of Brooklyn in early 2015.
“We thought this would be a real challenge,” Msgr. Sean Ogle, pastor of OLMC shared, “but we pledged 188 percent of our goal, which was $605,000 with $1,150,836 raised in pledges!”
Msgr. Ogle was pleased to learn how sympathetic his parishioners were toward retired priests and the youth ministry aspects of the diocese.
“We ended up being thrilled at the end of it, and as the parish starts some of the projects earmarked from Generations funds, we are incredibly grateful,” Msgr. Ogle said. “The people are very giving in a very practical way. They really work hard to build a community and they support the mission of the church and all of the diocesan events that happen,” and Generations of Faith was no exception.
Because OLMC would receive 50 percent of all funds collected up to its goal, and a larger share once over goal, Msgr. Ogle and his campaign committee, which included the parish council and finance committee, met in the planning stages of the campaign during the fall of 2014 and to select projects that the campaign would fund. The committee worked tirelessly and assisted with the effort by following up with phone calls and letters, conducting face-to-face meetings with parishioners and hosting receptions.
“They got to meet people and they enjoyed it,” Msgr. Ogle said, and he added the most gratifying part about working on the campaign for him was getting “a chance to speak personally with a lot of individuals that I only knew by name. I heard a lot of very interesting life stories from people. Having been through the Alive in Hope campaign back in 1996, I was aware that that would happen. In doing about 50 individual interviews, I spoke with people who had stories about priests in the past that helped them with certain life situations that they were grateful for. It was touching to hear those because of what we’re doing for the retired priests now.”
OLMC received its first disbursement in January. The parish has been able to begin two out of three of the projects highlighted in its case statement, including repairing the front steps and restoring the sanctuary of the church. The third case element, replacing the handicap ramp outside of the building, will be completed in the near future, as parishioners continue to fulfill their pledges.
“They’re very thrilled,” Msgr. Ogle said, describing parishioners’ reaction toward the restoration and repairs.
“The sanctuary is very beautiful; the front steps were just finished,” he explained. “They are all happy and think it was a job well done. It’s one of those cases you would not seek to do, but you know you have to do it. Seeing these projects begin, and receiving the funds back from our work together, has become a point of pride for our parish community.”
Msgr. Ogle closed by sharing how he thought the diocese would be impacted by Generations of Faith, “I think (the campaign) is about the parish and the diocese – it is also going to be a great help for retired priests. It’s also gratifying how highly (the parishioners) regarded helping the senior priests. I wouldn’t have expected their reaction to be that immediate, but I knew they would and it touched an emotional chord.”