By Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, diocesan vicar for development
What does Father Frank Schwarz, pastor of American Martyrs in Bayside, love most about his parish?
“The people. They’re wonderful … very caring people, who love their parish and love God and want to do right,” Father Schwarz said.
American Martyrs participated in Block 1 of the Diocese’s Generations of Faith Campaign. The parish goal was $640,000 which it far surpassed with $1,258,580 raised to date – 197 percent of the goal.
The funds raised will be directed towards parish case elements including roof restoration, repairing the church doors, and restoring the church pews and kneelers.
Many other priests in the Diocese of Brooklyn may agree with Father Schwarz that when the Generations of Faith campaign kicked off, they had doubts about whether or not their parish would be able to achieve their campaign goals. However, after Father Schwarz sat down and spoke with over 80 households in the parish community – which he said was one of the most gratifying experiences while working on the campaign – he realized he hadn’t given his parishioners enough credit for their generosity.
“Looking back, I shouldn’t have had any doubts because the people of our parish always come through,” Father Schwarz said. He added that when his parishioners were presented with the case to raise these campaign funds, they realized the challenge and rose to meet it and were as generous as possible.
Father Schwarz’s volunteer team assisted him with personal visits, which allowed the parish to collect more than 270 pledges – something that would have been impossible for him to achieve all by himself.
Father Schwarz offered words of encouragement to those parishes preparing to begin Generations of Faith in the next block. He said, “Have faith in your people. It seems like a tremendous amount, it can be overwhelming, but just take it step by step. You should do fine! It takes work, but it pays off in the end.”
When asked what he thought the impact of the Generations of Faith campaign will be on the diocese as a whole, Father Schwarz said that it seems obvious – he hopes that the campaign will be able to provide better programming for the young people and senior priests.
He joked, “At some point I’ll be one, too!”