By Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, diocesan vicar for development
Fresh off another campaign, Immaculate Conception Church in Astoria, jumped right into the Generations of Faith campaign with the rest of the Diocese of Brooklyn and have so far met 65 percent of their Generations goal of $730,000!
“We just completed a campaign where we raised $1 million to repair our church’s tower, which is now in pristine condition,” Msgr. Fernando Ferrarese explained. “We’ve experienced a bit of fatigue after just completing one campaign and moving right into the next, but I think our case is strong enough that people want to help bridge the gap.
“The timing of combining both was helpful, as the tower really needed to be completed and this allows us to assist the needs of the diocese simultaneously.”
With the help of its pledge collections, the next important project is the replacement of the Spanish tiles on the roof of the church, which has not been worked on since 1951. The tiles will be secured to prevent them from falling, and the roof renovation will include water proofing in order to prevent possible water damage.
Msgr. Ferrarese has been pastor for eight years and says of this multi-ethnic microcosm world, “Our parish has Mass in four languages: English, Italian, Spanish and once a month we have a Tagalog Mass for Filipinos. Immaculate Conception is culturally diverse and our school is becoming an academy within the year. We offer a lot of adult education, lecture series and film festivals. We are a thriving community! We had a procession of 700 people to the Holy Doors at Mount Carmel and I believe that was truly a statement of this parish’s faith.”
Due to the diverse cultures at Immaculate Conception, another part of its case elements includes purchasing video equipment so that Masses, weddings and funerals can be recorded. The parish has many attendees and families who live and travel across the world and are not always available to see certain events.
The people “are just wonderful, kind and open-hearted,” according to Msgr. Ferrarese. “I enjoy being able to preach the Gospel here and see the spiritual lives of these people open up and to be so vibrant. The generosity of the people in the parish has been incredibly gratifying. Even though they know I’m not thrilled about asking for more money, they have been very good to me.”
This campaign “has to be kept in a spiritual focus. Raising money is not about raising money. Raising money is about doing God’s will. Certainly, by taking care of elderly priests, youth ministry in the diocese and capital improvements we need here in the parish is really doing God’s work and that is a spiritual opportunity.”
He added, “One father of a young family told me that he’s very happy to make a pledge because God has been so good to him and his family and he would like to give back because of that. That was a very beautiful thing to hear – an affirmation of faith.”