PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It is first capital campaign in the history of the Pittsburgh Diocese and it’s a big one.
This weekend Bishop David Zubik will kick off a campaign to raise $125 million over the next five years.
It’s a lot of money to be raised, especially from some parishes in decline.
When he became of bishop of Pittsburgh five years ago, Zubik said he wanted to reinvigorate the diocese.
“What are our dreams to make the church really alive?” Zubik said.
This week he’ll launch a $125 million drive to make those dreams a reality. The church being alive is not so much a building campaign as it is a faith building campaign to bring back lapsed Catholics and re-energize those in the pews.
“It should not be about bricks and mortar. It should be what the church does best, which is to reach out to other people,” Zubik said.
The bishop wants tuition grants for children to attend parochial schools, money for the Catholic Charities Free Healthcare Fund and ministry for homebound senior citizens.
He also plans to put $70 million back into the 204 parishes to do what they will.
It will be a tough sell in parishes in decline like St. John of God in McKees Rocks, where Fr. Lou Vallone struggles with mounting debt and persistent maintenance problems. Now, parishioners will be asked to contribute over and above their weekly donations.
McKees Rocks once had seven Catholic schools, but the last closed three years ago. Now, their kids go to St, Malacy in Kennedy Township, which itself is struggling.
Vallone’s already heard grousing about the campaign’s intention of raising $10 million for the new Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School, which is currently under construction in Cranberry.
“They say ‘I don’t want to pay for a school in Cranberry,’ but that’s where their grandchildren are going to go to school, because their grandkids aren’t living in the Rocks,” Fr. Vallone said.
Bishop Zubik said the high school is only a small fraction of the campaign.
“That’s one of the areas where there is increasing population and we as a church have an obligation to pass on the faith,” Zubik said.
Although times are tough here, there is probably no good time to ask for $125 million and only time will tell if the faithful will open up their hearts and their wallets.