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Friday, February 26, 2010

"Seminary campaign far exceeds goal"

From St. Louis Review
By Joseph Kenny

The first capital campaign in the history of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary exceeded its goal by 21.7 percent, with $60,838,226 in pledges.

The goal had been set at $50 million to provide repairs, updates and physical improvements to a building that dates to 1931, while increasing its endowment.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, in a letter in today's Review, stated that donations to the "Faith for the Future" campaign are an expression of hope, especially during challenging economic times. The pledges are "a powerful statement of our hope in God's providence," he noted.

Archbishop Carlson also told the Review that the response to the campaign "shows the people's belief that we have to form good priests for the future so we can be a eucharistic people."

Frank Cognata, chief development officer of the archdiocese, noted that the seminary has formed more than 2,700 priests in the past, and the funds will prepare even more in the future. He said it was especially noteworthy that the campaign was conducted in a down economy and that participation met expectations. More than 2,000 volunteers helped make the campaign possible, with many of them making personal visits to potential donors.

The campaign has an unusually high $23 million in cash received to date, he said. About $2.3 million already was spent last fall for additional rooms for seminarians and other improvements. Another $3 million has been deposited into a capital fund to begin the preparation and planning. About $13.7 million has been deposited in the endowment.

Campaign expenses were held to 5.1 percent, a much lower number than expected. Matching gifts totaled $2.3 million.

About 100 parishes exceeded their goal. Bill Bellrose, chairperson of the campaign at his parish, St. Matthias in South St. Louis County, said the goal seemed hefty at first. The parish ended up raising $177,507, which was 161 percent of the goal.

"The most amazing thing about the campaign was that all you had to do was mention it was for the seminary and future priests, and people were standing in line to give. It just shows there's an awful lot of respect for the priesthood around the archdiocese," he said.

His pastor, Father Dennis Port, said: "I was so impressed by what they did. Obviously they want priests in the future."

He noted that five families in the parish are parents of priests. "The people have seen these men grow up and be ordained. I'm sure that helped, but the people are just remarkable and supportive of the Church," he said.

Msgr. Gregory Mikesch, pastor of St. Alban Roe Parish in Wildwood, served as coordinator of the Pastors' Advisory Committee. He called the generosity of the Catholics of the archdiocese remarkable. "They truly love the Church, love their priests and want to provide for the seminarians who will be serving them in the future."

Msgr. Mikesch said the campaign on the parish level was a united effort of many enthusiastic people.

Msgr. James E. Pieper, pastor of St. Clement Parish in Des Peres, said that in light of the economy, the generosity was truly overwhelming. "It did not seem likely as we were looking to it, but it indeed was a great, great tribute to the faith of the people," he said.

The people told him that the cause was a very good one. "The people are very much for vocations to the priesthood, and I think they looked on it as a vote of confidence in the future and wanted to do what they could to encourage vocations to the priesthood."

St. Clement was one of six parishes raising in excess of $1 million, and the parish ended up raising almost $1.7 million, 226 percent of its goal.

Another parish raising more than $1 million was St. Clare of Assisi in Ellisville, which raised $1.2 million, 130 percent of the goal, Msgr. Kevin Callahan, pastor of the parish, said the people "are really living stewardship and come through" on a variety of causes. "In this case, especially, they knew the importance of it. We have two seminarians at the parish. People know them, and there's a connection."

All three priests serving the parish went out and asked for commitments, he said. A DVD provided by the capital campaign was especially helpful, Msgr. Callahan said.

"We talked about our experiences in the seminary. It was not just another collection. The people could see the fruits of it by the priesthood and seminarians."

He noted that the seminary has a wide impact, including on other men who attended the seminary while discerning their vocation and decided not to be ordained. Those men also have received a good foundation from the seminary, he said.

As the number of seminarians has grown, so have the needs of the seminary, from the aging building to the increased need for up-to-date technology, from providing the best faculty and spiritual leaders to ensuring that an adequate endowment will be available to provide the archdiocese with priests both now and in the future.

Parishes big and small, rural and urban came through for the campaign. St. Paul Parish in St. Paul raised $235,535, twice its goal.

Msgr. John J. Hickel, pastor of the parish, said the campaign was well organized and didn't pressure people. "I was really proud of the response. For such a small parish it was amazing. If you would give me another cause I don't think I could match it. The DVD was a real winner. They could see there was an important need, and they responded to that."

Msgr. Daniel Hogan, pastor of St. Barnabas Parish in O'Fallon, said his parish also just told people of the needs. "We said, 'Give whatever you feel you're able to give.' Anytime we have a drive here, people really respond. They're just good people."

The parish raised $264,156, double its goal.

Msgr. Dennis Delaney, pastor of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Parish in Downtown St. Louis, noted that his parish is unique. "We count fewer than 100 households as registered parishioners. We serve, though, the extended community of visitors and tourists in this center city area, as well as the community of business and civil employees who daily join us regularly.

"At St. John's our numbers are small, but the hearts of our people are great. The goal set for us was $29,000. Our people responded with gifts just over $50,000. Their response to the 'Faith for the Future' campaign reflects their appreciation for, and their commitment to, the formation of priests for this new millennium who are simple men, wise men, gentle men, holy men. Our people have made a commitment to the formation of priests, in the image of Christ, the one priest, for service to the glory of God and for the good of God's people."

Cognata pointed out that Archbishop Carlson initially met for three evenings with various campaign leaders in the parishes and made many other efforts. "He brought a real enthusiasm to it," Cognata said. "His past involvement and experience on other seminary boards offers a great insight to his commitment to vocations and the seminary. It also assures the stewardship of the funds raised will truly enhance this great seminary."

The chief development officer's thanks also go to Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, who was named prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome just a month after announcing the campaign, and Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Hermann, who served as archdiocesan administrator until the installation of Archbishop Carlson.

Archbishop Carlson said one of the things he told people he met with was "what we have to do first is pray and ask God what He wants us to do."

The result of the campaign is "a great example of the generosity of people responding to what God wanted them to do," he said.

The campaign represented the priests, the people and religious pulling together and supporting the future of priests in the archdiocese through the premier seminary in this region, Archbishop Carlson added.

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Benedictine monastery in Oklahoma elevated to abbey"

From Today's Catholic

Our Lady of the Annunciation at Clear Creek, a Benedictine monastery near Hulbert in the Diocese of Tulsa, has been elevated to the status of abbey. The change was announced Feb. 11 by Abbot Antoine Forgeot of the Abbey of Our Lady of Fontgombault in France, the monastery’s motherhouse. Father Philip Anderson, one of the original 13 monks who came from the French abbey to help found Clear Creek in 1999, has been elected abbot. He has served as prior of the monastic community since its foundation. “It’s a moment of perfection, and the moment you become fully what you were meant to be. To become an abbey is to reach a certain point of maturity,” the abbot-elect said. Clear Creek was established as a monastery at the invitation of Bishop Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa. In the 10 years since it was established, monasteries nationwide and worldwide have declined in membership, but the Oklahoma monastery has grown from its original 13 monks to its current population of 18 professed monks. Twelve of them are priests and six are brothers. In addition, the community includes eight novices and postulants and seven men who have made their first vows.