January 20, 2016 - Al Frank, Associate Publisher, The Catholic Advocate
The third and final group of archdiocesan parishes launched their participation in the $90 million We Are Living Stones campaign last week. The 99 parishes begin their pledge drives as other parishes have begun spending their shares of the campaign money they raised. The archdiocese announced last month the distribution of another $584,380 to 46 parishes that exceeded their goal. That comes on top of the $553,407 distributed in August to 33 parishes, for a total of $1,137,790.
The funds “will be used to carry out the many vital projects throughout our parishes,” according to Carla L. Repollet, archdiocesan executive director for development, adding that the money is spent as each parish decided in a case statement filed as part of its campaign.
For St. Peter the Apostle of River Edge, it was restoring the parish carillon – just in time for Christmas. “People were always asking for the bells but we needed to find a way to raise money,” said Father Michael J. Sheehan, pastor. Living Stones provided a way to restore a carillon that had fallen silent in 2013, a victim of age and nonexistent replacement parts. The refurbishment was completed on Dec. 23 and the bells rang again for the community as they assembled for their Christmas Eve masses the next day.
“It was a great Christmas for us that way,” Father Sheehan says, adding that the $33,000 rebate covered the $18,000 job, while leaving some $15,000 for other projects. Parishes draw their funds through an account created on their behalf. The next distribution is scheduled for the end of March.
In all, an archdiocesan study estimated 1,100 churches, schools, rectories, parish center and other building in Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Union counties need $125 million in upkeep during the next 10 years. In addition to half what they collect for the campaign, parishes will share in the proceeds of a new $8 million fund for parish renewal. Another $18 million is dedicated to a new endowment for tuition assistance in archdiocesan Catholic schools; $8 million to increasing the endowment for the seminaries and $6 million for the medical expenses of retired priests. So far, $28 million has been pledged to the campaign since fundraising began last spring.
During the year they launch the campaign, parishes are exempt from participating in the Archdiocesan Annual Appeal. As a result, the parishes in the first and second campaign phases last year are now due to resume the annual appeal. Those parishes in the first phase will launch on the weekend of Feb. 6 and 7 while those in the second phase will launch in May.