CARIBOU, Maine  – Now that the Portland Diocese’s “Strengthening the Heartbeat of the Church” capital campaign is nearly complete, it is important to clarify information and reiterate the facts in order to bring balance to an opinion recently published in this paper. 

The campaign was the first such fundraiser for the Catholic Church in Maine in 40 years and the reasons for our recent effort were recognized more than six years ago.

The need for funding immediate and long-term parish improvements and programs, vocations, Catholic Charities Maine, and Catholic schools was acknowledged by many groups who helped advise Bishop Richard Malone in the feasibility of running such a campaign.

These included priests, Catholic Church employees and other laypeople involved in spreading the Good News, by teaching Christian values and by providing and/or by supporting the countless works of charity done in the name of the Catholic community.

It is incorrect to suggest that a few wealthy people determined the direction of the campaign or how the money is to be utilized, as many people from different backgrounds and socioeconomic groups had input into the decision-making process.

Initially, many were not in favor of such a large campaign in uncertain economic times. However, faith won over doubts and the endeavor designed to strengthen the work of the Catholic Church was launched. 

The case for raising the funds was clearly articulated to all potential donors and the result speaks for itself. Some 8,886 separate donations were made, totaling $42.2 million.

Not only were the decisions regarding whether the campaign should take place and how the money would be spent or endowed a collaborative effort, but thousands of faithful Catholics agreed to support those goals by making generous contributions, some designating exactly where they wanted their gifts spent.

Another very important point that demonstrates the donors’ belief in the campaign: In any multimillion-dollar fundraiser, the industry standard is that 10 percent of the donors will give 90 percent of the total gifts, and 90 percent of the donors give 10 percent of the gifts.

That is understandable — people of means have the ability to contribute more to campaigns they favor. In the “Strengthening the Heartbeat of the Church” campaign, 10 percent of the donors gave 61 percent of the gifts and 90 percent of the donors gave 39 percent of the gifts. In this fundraiser, more people can take credit for its outstanding success, and Bishop Malone has publicly expressed his gratitude for every gift no matter the size. 

The most important part of the campaign was the outpouring of support for the Catholic Church even in difficult economic times. The people have prioritized the role the Catholic Church plays in society as the largest charitable organization in the state.

Time and again, the Catholic family has come to the aid of those in need: Whether it’s to help their flood-ravaged neighbors, to provide fuel for the needy in the winter months or to send hundreds of thousands of dollars to earthquake victims, faith-filled Catholics put their beliefs into action daily.

In this case, donors have said “yes” to investing in youth ministry, increasing food distribution and emergency services to those in need, strengthening vocations and spreading the Gospel message of hope and salvation through the written word and Catholic radio, to name a few of the campaign’s objectives. The Catholic Foundation of Maine, a separate nonprofit corporation, will manage the endowments and the distributions from those funds.

The CFM will make regular financial reports to donors, just as the Diocese of Portland publishes its annual financial reports.

Only the most cynical among us could find fault with the rationale and success of this campaign. We have every reason to be proud and grateful for the dedication, generosity and goodwill of the Catholic people.

Likewise, we have reason to be proud of the steadfast, visionary leadership of Bishop Malone, our priests and lay leaders.

We are delighted to announce our goal was exceeded and that the good work is under way. The Catholic family and those we serve will be the better for it.

 

– Special to The Press Herald