Parishes have been raking in the benefits of their contributions to the Sustaining Hope for the Future capital campaign this fall, as a portion of their Sustaining donations returns to local communities throughout the diocese.
New roofs, repaired parking lots, refinished floors, remodeled rest rooms and new stained-glass windows are among the many renovations in parishes that have been completed and are yet to come.
The work is being financed by the $11.2 million designated for parish projects from the more than $28 million goal of the Sustaining Hope for the Future capital campaign.
Sixty percent of the money raised was designated for the diocese, including $3 million for the diocesan trust for the welfare and retirement of priests; $10 million for the Lay Employee Pension Fund and $2 million for diocesan ministries. Forty percent of each parish’s goal raised is being returned to the parish.
Deborah Fols, director of the diocesan Development Office, attributed the success of the Sustaining Hope for the Future campaign to “the unwavering support and generosity of the people of our diocese.
“Through their gifts,” Fols said, “not only will the diocesan initiatives be met, but parishes are now able to address many essential capital projects that otherwise would not be possible. Many good things are occurring as a result of this campaign.”
St. Mary of the Assumption
The most visible good thing at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Hockessin is the installation of the building’s first stained-glass windows.
Father Charles C. Dillingham, the pastor, said recently when the work to add the windows had started that the stained-glass that’s in had already received the best compliment, “Wow, these windows look like they were put in the day they built the church.”
The pastor said the Franz Schroeder stained-glass designs match the contemporary style of the St. Mary’s Church.
“The windows were a very good cause” for the Sustaining campaign, the pastor said, “very concrete evidence” of the parishioners’ generosity.
St. Mary’s has more funds coming from the campaign, so Father Dillingham said, “I’m thinking right now that the soffits and gutters on the outside of the church really need to be renewed. The church was built in 1964, so it’s maintenance that needs to be done anyway.”
Father Dillingham said he believes the parish responded so well to the campaign because “the diocesan needs were stated so clearly by the bishop and our people wanted to be of assistance.”
St. Joseph, French Street
At St. Joseph Church on French Street in Wilmington, Franciscan Father Paul M. Williams said that “every quarter when we get a [Sustaining Hope] check from the diocese, we announce that to the parishioners.” The congregation applauds the news because they know the parish’s long-term projects are closer to reality, he added.
Father Williams said St. Joseph’s had a history of wanting to enlarge the kitchen in its parish hall and expand its rest room. When the Sustaining Hope for the Future campaign began, with its goal to return 40 percent of donations to the parish, “I suggested we piggyback on the diocesan campaign,” the pastor said.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to support the diocese and to get our needs done.”
The success of St. Joseph’s campaign was rooted in the parishioners’ generosity, Father Williams said.
“We were very pleased that we got the parishioners excited about it. We were talking about a three-year plan.”
Damita and Earl MacFarlane agreed to chair St. Joseph’s Sustaining Hope committee and Bishop Malooly discussed the campaign with parishioners at a dinner meeting.
“What we did with the committee in the very beginning was know that we were not experts [in fundraising],” Father Williams said. “So we said let’s follow this plan exactly as they propose. We didn’t take any shortcuts. We followed it religiously.”
And the campaign worked.
“That parish hall will be renovated” and St. Joseph parishioners will actually have room to cook, the pastor said.
“The greatest urgency was that we had to replace the slate roof on the rectory,” said Father Stanley J. Russell, pastor of St. Helena Church in Wilmington.
The other buildings had slate roofs that are guaranteed to last 200 years, he said, but the rectory’s was only built for 20 years and leaks had begun to damage the rectory’s walls.
Those leaks also contributed to damaging the enclosed porch on the rectory.
“Water had gotten into the wood of the walls and it was virtually disintegrating,” the pastor said.
The Sustaining Hope campaign is now helping keep the ceiling dry in the rectory and helping renovate the porch.
The driveway was also starting to collapse at St. Helena’s, Father Russell said.
Underground pipes carrying water from the church roof to the sewer had leaked and it was undermining the driveway next to the church, Father Russell said.
“In the wintertime, all the water would freeze and form a four-foot stretch of ice,” he said.
“We really needed those [Sustaining Hope] funds for a lot of things,” Father Russell said. “If the campaign hadn’t come along, we would have had to do it alone.”
St. Joseph on the Brandywine
Msgr. Joseph F. Rebman, pastor at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church in Greenville, said, “Thank goodness we had Sustaining Hope for the Future. All this mechanical equipment was wearing out.”
“All this” has included church heating and air conditioning, a new sound system, double-paned windows on the parish family center, refinished floors under the church pews, painting the five buildings on the property and a resurfaced parking lot.
Still to come at St. Joe’s are painting the church interior, and a new furnace for the archive building.
The Sustaining Hope funds were needed at St. Joseph’s, Msgr. Rebman said, because collections have been down at the parish. Without the Sustaining money, ongoing operating needs — light, heat, power, salaries, snow and leaf removal — would have delayed spending for capital projects.
With declining attendance, down to about 550 people on Sundays from about 750 to 800 in 1999, Msgr. Rebman said the need for funds continues and the parish has started an increased offertory program as it nears its 175th anniversary year.