For more than a year, parishioners across the Diocese of Lansing have been called to be witnesses to Christ. And, through the first-ever diocesan-wide Witness to Hope campaign, people have come together to tackle combined campaign projects that address the needs of the individual parishes, while also addressing the needs of the wider Church.
In the city of Grand Blanc sits a church with more than 65 years of faith. With more than 5,700 parishioners and nearly 1,800 families, Church of the Holy Family has a history of sharing this faith through charitable contributions.
Holy Family began its Witness to Hope campaign journey in September 2016 with a goal of $4 million. Through the generosity of the people, Holy Family exceeded its target, raising $4.3 million for renovations.
“Our church hasn’t been touched in a long time. It’s been 40 years,” says Msgr. Jerry Vincke, pastor of Holy Family, “The bathrooms are the same ones that were put in when the church was built in 1956.”
In addition to updating the bathrooms, Msgr. Vincke says Holy Family plans to expand the church by building a gathering space, which will be key for funerals and weddings. Currently, the church does not have such a space. “We want to have a more welcoming atmosphere,” he says. This welcoming atmosphere also includes new or refurbished pews, renovations to the parking lot and adding landscaping to the existing property. “It’s a big parking lot. It needs some greenery and color. The landscaping is a very important part of our process, our plans,” he continues.
The key to Holy Family’s successful campaign was educating the parishioners about the mission and how their contributions would help the needs of the diocese. With the guidance of campaign representative Donna Mariano from Greater Mission, Holy Family held town halls and made announcements at all Masses during the campaign wave. A leadership team was created to assist with the education process, and Msgr. Vincke kept people informed through his bulletin column.
“It’s a very giving parish, especially when it comes to charity,” he says. “I’m very grateful for their support and kindness and for their generosity.”
In the end, it came down to trusting the program and trusting the process, he explains.
“It was all very new to me,” Msgr. Vincke says about the campaign. “When I got here in 2015, they had talked for years and years and years about renovating the church, and they had all these elaborate drawings. It just never happened.
“I think people felt deflated about it, and when Witness to Hope came, it was an opportunity. People thought, now is the time, and we can do this. We are really excited about what is going to happen for our church. For a lot of people, it’s a long time coming.”
Msgr. Vincke says the fact that the campaign permits churches to keep the amount raised after 120 percent of the goal is “huge and unheard of.”
“Without [the diocese] even initiating this, I don’t think the renovations would have happened for a while,” he says. “I think, when we tackle an endeavor like this, it’s almost a leap of faith.
“Witness to Hope was the bridge that allowed us to take this on. It was a great opportunity for our parish to help both parties – the diocese, who is our family, as well as our immediate family. We took it to prayer, and this was the opportunity to do something in faith.”
Strengthening our Parishes
“We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works.” (Heb 10:24)
Parishes are where we meet the Lord in sacrament and community. It is at our parishes that we can best live our faith, call others to Christ and help to build up the kingdom of God. For this reason, 35 percent of all funds raised up to the parish goal, 65 percent up to 120 percent the parish goal, and 100 percent of every dollar over 120 percent the parish goal raised by the parish will fund the parish’s own mission and capital priorities. These funds will help parishes build new facilities for ministry, maintain current facilities, pay off debt, build parish endowments or support other local needs. Parishes with significant projects can opt for a larger goal to meet those needs. The results of Witness to Hope will be stronger parishes that are better able to advance the sacred mission of the Church.