The leader of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh was hoping to raise $125 million in a first of its kind campaign for the diocese “to strengthen parishes and evangelize.”
The Our Campaign for The Church Alive instead brought in $230 million in pledges with nearly $63 million received to date. “I continued to emphasize this campaign was really not about the money, it was about continuing the work of the church,” said Bishop David Zubik. “ It (the amount pledged) shows that our people love their faith and are willing to make sacrifices for it.”
The bishop says parishes will benefit directly from the donations as will 17 priorities across the diocese including: need-based tuition grants for elementary and secondary schools; religious education, recruiting more young men into the priesthood; support for retired clergy and sisters; serving the poor and marginalized; and, Catholic Charities Free Health Care.
“There’s the Rosalia Program that assists unwed mothers; there’s a Mother Teresa Program in Catholic Charities that will assist them as well. One of the disbursements that’s been given to Catholic Charities to help the dental program that’s there,” Zubik said.
He added the diocese has begun a major evangelization effort. “We want to draw as many people back to church as possible. We’ve begun to do commercials that I know so many people saw in anticipation of Christmas inviting people to come back to church.”
Zubik says he does not expect this success will negatively impact the annual Parish Share Program (PSP) which assists with the day-to-day operations of the diocese. He says the first 11 parishes began participating in Church Alive two years ago. “All the figures that we see show not only did the PSP not suffer nor did the weekly collections of the parishes suffer either.”
The diocese reported that more than 44,000 donors representing 130,000 Catholics at 200 parishes participated in the Church Alive campaign. That’s 20 percent of the 650,000 registered Catholics in the diocese.
According to Patrick Joyce, director of stewardship and development, 18 percent of the donors made one-time gifts, 80 percent made pledges to be paid over five years, and two percent over a shorter time frame.
Bishop Zubik added that their consultants said that the usual fulfillment rate on such pledges is about 90 percent “thus far we’re over 94 percent.”