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St. Basil the Great Helps Kick Off "Once-in-a-Lifetime Initiative" for Diocese

The Brecksville church was part of nine pilot parishes in raising funds for this diocese-wide campaign.

The Rev. Walter Jenne can’t explain how became one of nine parishes in the pilot phase of a diocese-wide fundraising campaign.

 “I’m not sure how we ended up one of the pilot parishes,” Jenne said. “I kept asking that question. They just kept saying, ‘Well, you are.’”

The 3-year "Rooted in Faith, Forward in Hope" campaign is “a once-in-a-lifetime initiative,” Jenne said. “It’s a joint venture between the Catholic Diocese and the parishes.”

Jenne served as part of the early planning of this program, which is aimed at raising $125 million to support spiritual, educational and social service needs of Catholics in Northeast Ohio, according to information from the diocese. He was a member of a “case statement” task force of lay people, diocesan staff and “a couple of priests” charged with identifying areas of greatest need within the diocese, Jenne said.

Each of the 174 parishes in the eight counties of the diocese will conduct a local campaign to reach a goal, which Jenne said is determined by average offering collections during the last three years.

Parish leaders and volunteers begin the process by having individual conversations with as many parishioners as possible, explaining the task force’s case statement, the benefits to the diocese and benefits to the parish. They subsequently hold gatherings to explain these things to groups of people.

“We give people time,” Jenne said. “We don’t press them to make a decision.”

The strategy seems to have worked at St. Basil and the other eight pilot parishes.

“They were all tremendously successful,” said Patrick Grace, executive director of the Catholic Community Foundation, which is managing the campaign. “All nine reached and surpassed their goal. St. Basil was the head of the pack.”

St. Basil’s goal was $2,095,500. The parish raised $3,646,472, according to the campaign email newsletter, pledged over a 5-year period. 

“It’s a great tribute to the leadership, lay leadership and individuals who stepped forward and donated,” Grace said.

Lay leaders at St. Basil included Mike and Kathy Ziegler and Joe and Kathy Petrulis with a total of 50 to 60 church members volunteering.

“We couldn’t have done this without them,” Jenne said.

Thirty percent of the goal money plus 70 percent of the $1.5 million above the goal will go back to the parish for construction of a gathering area in the main entry to the church with a small chapel where folks can pray.

“I think people will generally be pretty happy about this,” Jenne said.

The remaining funds will go toward needs throughout the diocese, he said, including tuition assistance, outreach programs and health and human services.

“The people in this community care deeply about the needs identified in this program,” Grace said. “They also care deeply about some of the broader needs of our community.”

The remaining parishes in the diocese will be divided into four blocks of 34 to 50, with each successive block beginning its campaign as the previous one ends.

The block 1 phase of the campaign is already underway at 34 parishes. Among them are and , both in Mentor, in Gates Mills,  in Highland Heights,  in Solon, and  in Avon Lake.

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