PROVIDENCE — The Grateful for God’s Providence capital campaign has exceeded its goal of securing $50 million in pledges from the faithful of the Diocese of Providence in support of the Church’s mission by ensuring both short- and long-term financial assistance for the diocese and its individual parishes.
The campaign was launched in January, 2018, to commemorate the Diocese of Providence’s 150th anniversary in 2022. It will continue through to its conclusion over the next few months as nine parishes in the final, Block 5 phase continue to accept new pledges.
As of Jan. 28, the campaign has seen a pledge total of $51,224,268 to Grateful for God’s Providence, with nearly $20 million generated in Leadership Gifts and Bequests, with $7.1 million generated through parishes. A total of $37,270,618 was pledged from 16,240 Catholic individual parish families. A total of 185 priests in the diocese pledged their support of $1,729,897 to the campaign.
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said in a letter thanking those who contributed to Grateful for God’s Providence that he was proud of their efforts to serve the Church through their stewardship.
“In celebrating this achievement, I hasten to extend my profound gratitude to all who made the Campaign so successful: our remarkably generous donors, our pastors for their dedicated leadership, the parish leaders for their enthusiastic embrace of the Campaign, the “stars” of the compelling campaign video, the diocesan staff who provided valuable support, and to Guidance in Giving, the professional consultants who accompanied us at every step along the way!” Bishop Tobin said.
The bishop also spoke of the campaign’s framework of strengthening the diocesan Church and its parishes as the Diocese of Providence prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary in two years.
“This Jubilee will give us a splendid opportunity to thank God for all the blessings of the past, and to renew our commitment to Christ and His Church for the future,” Bishop Tobin said.
“The challenges we face are significant, but they cannot compete with the resilience of our people and the power of God’s grace. The Capital Campaign raised new financial resources for our Church, but, more importantly, it was an impressive display of your faith and love!”
Of the campaign’s goal, $30 million is earmarked to support the diocese:
∙ $8 million for an endowment for seminarian education
∙ $8 million for an endowment to support retired priests
∙ $5 million for an endowment to benefit Catholic school tuition assistance
∙ $5 million to bolster the Catholic Charities and Social Services endowment and operations
∙ $4 million to help pay for renovations to the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul
The remaining $20 million in campaign funds will be distributed to local parishes. Each parish has a campaign goal, and will receive back 40 percent of money that is collected toward that goal. Of any money that is collected over their goal, the parish will receive 60 percent of that amount.
At SS. John and Paul Parish in Coventry, the largest in the diocese, the pastor, Father Michael Woolley, was thrilled with the response of his parishioners in contributing $1,061,000 to the campaign, $42,000 over the parish’s goal. This will net the parish more than $400,000 once all the pledges are collected, while the diocese will receive more than $600,000 for its programs.
The pastor plans to use the windfall — with the first installment of $100,000 expected to be received in the coming weeks — to make a variety of improvements at both the parish church and its school.
“I tried to find projects that would bring something to everyone,” Father Woolley said.
The pastor plans to begin by installing new carpeting in the church, new roofing on the school as well as the rectory, where he will also replace the original boiler in the basement of the residence. Also, an outdoor surveillance system will be installed to protect the parish grounds and a new irrigation system will feature sprinklers that will keep the parish’s large front lawn watered.
Father Woolley credited his parish’s successful participation in the campaign to the unending efforts of a tremendous team of parish volunteers, as well as the professional guidance he received from Tim McCaig, of Guidance in Giving Inc., who serves as operations director for the Grateful for God’s Providence campaign.
He said that Father Joe Henry, SS. John and Paul’s pastor emeritus, also contributed greatly in his role as the parish’s honorary chairperson for the campaign.
“I assembled the team early in the summer of the year we started and began looking at some of the various projects that we could do,” Father Woolley said.
Father Woolley began visiting parishioners at home that summer, extolling the benefits that could be realized through strong participation in the campaign. He also showed a video produced by the campaign that reinforced the good works throughout the diocese that could be done as a result of Grateful for God’s Providence.
“I personally think the video was very well done,” Father Woolley said. “It establishes the case for raising the money and people see where it is going to and the need.”
“Our parish is very generous. When they see a need they come forward,” he added.
Meanwhile, at St. John Vianney Parish in Cumberland, Father Joe Pescatello said he was “very appreciative and overwhelmed” that his parishioners not just reached their goal of $762,000 in pledges, they shattered it by an additional $223,000, raising a total of about $985,000 for the capital campaign.
“I’m very grateful for the people’s generosity and grateful for the response of the parish,” the pastor said, noting how effectively everyone came together to meet the challenge of what at first seemed to everyone to be an insurmountable goal.
Father Pescatello said that the first expected disbursement of about $100,000 from campaign proceeds to St. John Vianney will be put to very good use.
“We’ve got to put a new roof on the church immediately, and we’ve got to power wash and paint the exterior of the church and we have to paint the entire basement area of the church, including the parish hall,” the pastor said.
The funds will come in especially handy to make these repairs as the parish has already exhausted about $50,000 in the last 18 months remediating other decaying parts of its infrastructure, including $10,000 spent to mend two damaged sections of wall in the parish hall and another $10,000 to replace rooted windows and frames.
“The day I arrived here, a year-and-a-half ago, the boiler broke down in the church, and we had to repair a leak in the roof of the parish office building. That was a $30,000 job,” Father Pescatello recalled.
The capital campaign funds will also allow for the installation of a new septic system to be installed in the parking lot near the parish office building, as well as for the introduction of two new laser projectors to enhance visibility of services in the church.
The pastor attributed the campaign’s success to his very generous parishioners and the leadership of Michael Woody and his wife Joanne Speroni-Woody, who served as co-chairs of the parish Grateful for God’s Providence campaign, and worked with other dedicated committees to make the effort fruitful.
“They were excellent campaign leaders,” Father Pescatello said of the couple.
“They are very professional, very enthusiastic, very much faith-filled people committed to the parish and to their faith.”
Joanne and Michael said the parish committees were the driving force behind the parish’s success.
“Over 100 volunteers — involved in hospitality, telephone outreach and written communication — spent countless hours making parishioners feel welcome at receptions, and part of a communal effort,” both agreed.
“In addition, our talented webmaster did an impressive job integrating the campaign message into our parish website. This team effort made it easy for us to encourage pledges. It took a village, but together we did it.”
Joanne said that as longtime parishioners, she and her husband knew that the St. John Vianney community has always been generous and the campaign would be successful.
“We were confident that we would make our goal, but our fellow parishioners astounded us with their remarkable response to this campaign,” she said.
Michael said he is very much looking forward to seeing fruits of all their hard work blossom.
“Once our church roof is repaired, we’ll be able to permanently retire the green bucket that’s been used to catch rainwater leaking into our worship space,” he said.
“And we are especially looking forward to the upgraded projection equipment that will enhance our liturgy.”
As the Grateful for God’s Providence campaign winds down in the coming weeks, the focus for most parishes now has shifted to supporting the annual Catholic Charity Appeal. Both fundraising initiatives, while separate and distinct from each other, are both crucial to supporting diocesan and parish programs.
While the Grateful for God’s Providence capital campaign is endowment focused, and establishes a foundation for the future to support broad-based programs, such as Catholic school tuition assistance, seminarian education, priest retirement assistance and needed renovations to the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, the annual Catholic Charity Appeal, by contrast, is focused on providing assistance to those most in need on a day to-day basis, along with funding for social and athletic programs that benefit hundreds of young people across the state each year.
Dear Friends in the Diocese of Providence:
More than three years ago we started to discuss the possibility of having a special capital campaign for the Diocese of Providence. The need for a campaign was evident but there were many critical issues and questions that had to be carefully considered. Fully aware of the challenges, then, but mindful of our call to be good stewards of the Church, and with supreme confidence in God’s providence and the consistent generosity of our people, we “set out into the deep” to launch the Campaign, called “Grateful for God’s Providence.”
So it is with great pride that I am pleased to announce now that the Campaign has been a success and has exceeded its goal of $50 million! It’s important to note that the Campaign is not complete — new gifts are being accepted and the pledges have to be collected — but we are thrilled at this time to announce the progress of this historic initiative.
In celebrating this achievement, I hasten to extend my profound gratitude to all who made the Campaign so successful: our remarkably generous donors, our pastors for their dedicated leadership, the parish leaders for their enthusiastic embrace of the Campaign, the “stars” of the compelling campaign video, the diocesan staff who provided valuable support, and to Guidance in Giving, the professional consultants who accompanied us at every step along the way!
The backdrop of our Campaign is the approaching celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Diocese in 2022. This Jubilee will give us a splendid opportunity to thank God for all the blessings of the past, and to renew our commitment to Christ and His Church for the future. The challenges we face are significant, but they cannot compete with the resilience of our people and the power of God’s grace. The Capital Campaign raised new financial resources for our Church, but, more importantly, it was an impressive display of your faith and love!
On this occasion, then, dear brothers and sisters, as St. Paul wrote to the members of his Church, I write to you: “I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you because of your partnership for the Gospel . . . I am confident of this: that the One who began this good work in you will bring it to completion.” (Phil 1: 3-4, 6)
With my gratitude, prayers and blessings to all, I remain,
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin,
Bishop of Providence