The community of Good Shepherd Church in Decherd will be able to make use of its nearly 12-acre campus with a prayer garden and walking trail around the church thanks to its parish share of the $50 million A Legacy of Faith, Hope and Love Campaign.
The plans were announced to parishioners as the church kicked off Wave Three of the campaign at weekend Masses Sept. 10-11.
It is one of many projects around the parishes of the Diocese of Nashville that will come to fruition because of the campaign.
“When I grew up on a farm, my parents always had a line. ‘There’s always something,’” explained Bishop J. Mark Spalding. “As a pastor, in my time before I got here in the Diocese of Nashville, I could clearly say that about every parish I served. There is always something on the property, in the church, in the school, in the ministries that serve the people that needs a little extra, and out of that experience is why the parish share was a part of the campaign.”
The $50 million A Legacy of Faith, Hope and Love Campaign is a diocesan-wide fundraising initiative to build up endowments to support in perpetuity parishes, schools, ministries and agencies of the diocese.
The historic campaign, with the assistance of Steier Group, is raising money to create new endowments or enhance existing endowments to provide future revenue for five key priorities: individual parish needs; Catholic education; vocations; parish growth and expansion; and outreach to those in need. The money will be split among each of the key priorities.
Parishes across Middle Tennessee are each set to receive back 25 percent of what its parishioners raise in the campaign. If a parish exceeds its campaign goal, the percentage returned will increase.
The idea for a Prayer Garden in front of Good Shepherd, which will then connect to a larger walking trail behind the church, is one that has been in the works for several years, explained Randy Laszewski, Good Shepherd Parish Council chairperson.
“It will give a quiet space for somebody to come out and pray and reflect beyond just their home,” Laszewski said. “I could also see various groups and ministries of the church saying, ‘Let’s meet in the morning and walk the trail together and pray,’ so there are chances for communal prayer, too.”
Kelly Doyle, co-campaign chairperson for Good Shepherd agreed.
“The garden and the walk will provide a place where people can meditate and experience the love of God. It will be a quiet place where they can reflect,” Doyle said. “There is just something about being outside, where it’s peaceful and you can view the beauty of nature.”
St. Frances Cabrini Church in Lebanon also kicked off the campaign for its parish during Wave Three in recent weeks. The church’s plan is to use its parish share to pay off the debt still owed from building the current church structure, which was completed in November 2017 following two years of construction.
It’s something the community is happy to be able to do, Deacon Hector Martinez said, because of how much the new structure has benefited the parish since it opened.
“I see people that are more committed to the church than before,” Deacon Martinez said, who has served St. Frances Cabrini for the past nine years. “With the various groups we have in the church, we have good relationships. We’re not segregated. We’re like one family.”
“They say, ‘if you build it, they’ll come,’” added Denise Smith, campaign chairperson for the parish. “We’ve had a lot of growth over the last five years” since the new church opened, with 637 families currently registered in the parish.
Holy Name Church in East Nashville will kick off Wave Three of the campaign during weekend Masses Oct. 15-16. The plan for its parish share is to help supplement the money already going to a three-phase renovation of the church, which includes fixing water damage, addressing plumbing issues, painting, repairing the brick around the church, and more. Some of the projects already completed include the replacement of the roof and the installation of several windows.
“I hope it will benefit the community because we live in East Nashville that has been changing for the past five to 10 years, so when you see a lot of things changing, you also want to change with the times,” said Father Theo Ebulueme, pastor of Holy Name. “With the ongoing changes here in East Nashville, we are hoping it will bring more people, both young and old, especially those who are looking for new things and other parishes and want to come into a parish that is old, but with new renovations and things that will benefit a lot of people.”
“We’ve been on this property … since 1857, so we’ve been a staple in East Nashville for 165 years,” added Renee Szefcyk, parish secretary. “We want to make sure that it continues for future generations, and you can’t do that if the building is crumbling. … We have to still keep up with the times and have that Catholic presence for future generations to come.”
Wave One parishes are already seeing the fruits of the campaign with several receiving their first checks in September.
“It was wonderful. I like receiving six-figure checks,” said Father Andy Bulso, pastor of St. Edward Church. “I was overwhelmed by the generosity that we saw at St. Edwards, and we had an especially successful final appeal weekend. … Though the check came from the campaign, it’s really like a check from our parishioners.”
St. Edward met and exceeded its $1.46 million goal as a parish, and the shares coming back will go toward several projects including updates to safety and security around the campus, updates to the Parish Family Life Center, and more.
St. Patrick Church in South Nashville has not only received its first check after exceeding its goal as well, but work has officially begun to install an elevator, which will allow all the parishioners to access the upstairs, which used to be the home of St. Patrick School from 1890 to 1954.
Because of the steep staircase that leads up to the top floor, the parish hasn’t been able to utilize the space as much as it’d like to, said Father John Hammond, pastor of St. Patrick and Vicar General and Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of Nashville. But having an elevator will alleviate that obstacle.
“This whole process has been a wonderful experience. We had a very successful parish phase of our capital campaign,” Father Hammond said. “We had really good participation from the parish, we had a lot of people interested and excited both in the diocesan priorities and in our work here. … People seem interested and enthusiastic about what we’re doing.”
“A lot of folks were eager to participate to see this project done because they themselves or their family members have gone to school here, or they have attended St. Patrick for so long that they remember what it was like to actually be up there,” added Robin Baskin, St. Patrick parish coordinator. “It’s very exciting. There have already been talks about naming the hall, naming the elevator, a ribbon cutting and the possibilities for uses.”
The installation of the elevator, which is being headed by Goodrum Construction, will be ongoing for the next few months.
Bishop Spalding said he is pleased with the different ways in which parishes have decided to use their shares.
“As much as I may have dreamed personally for what parishes should and could do, the pastors and parish councils and finance councils have chosen even better,” Bishop Spalding said. “They, meaning pastors, parish councils, finance councils, school administration and boards, know what is most urgent in their parishes and have wisely chosen these various projects.”
And the pastors and campaign chairpersons said they are grateful that Bishop Spalding included the parishes in the priorities of the campaign.
“I think it’s great (to include the parishes) because there are going to be a lot of people questioning, ‘What is this money going to be used for and do we get money back,’” said Fred Doyle, co-campaign chairperson for Good Shepherd. “Now, there are things we can do around the campus to beautify it and make it more welcoming and more spiritual inside and out.”
“It creates that connection. People feel encouraged by their giving to the diocese and they are able to get something back,” added Father Anthony Mutuku, pastor of Good Shepherd and St. Margaret Mary Mission, who also kicked off Wave Three of the Campaign, and will use its parish shares to update the interior lighting.
Father Bulso said it will help parishes feel that they are the diocese.
“Oftentimes, we think of the ‘diocese’ as the offices at the (Catholic Pastoral Center) when in fact the diocese is the people spread out in the parishes across Middle Tennessee, so I think having it be a significant part of the destination of these pledges and donations really communicates back to people that you are part of the diocese,” Father Bulso said. “And that’s true for all the initiatives. … It’s really going to the people of the diocese.”
“The average parishioner doesn’t know what goes on out at the (diocesan offices), and so the fact that the bishop was willing to share this campaign showed that he was committed to the parishes as well as the diocese as a whole,” she said.
The parish shares priority “highlights the fact that the life of faith is lived most primarily in the context of the parish and that it’s the spiritual home for our Catholic faithful,” added Father Hammond. “It creates a nice complement to the diocesan priorities, which are also critical and important, but are more universal to the whole diocese.
“Parish shares give a particular piece for people in their own specific contexts, which I think is very powerful and certainly was a strong motivating factor here in this parish and helped people to have the buy-in for the whole effort,” he said. “One of the things that the bishop always says to us at the chancery is that our job, our first obligation, is to help the pastors and parishes thrive, and this is a very tangible example of that principle being put into actual effect.”
As of Tuesday, September 27, the campaign has raised more than $39.5 million.
The campaign is being rolled out at churches across the diocese in three waves, with a different group of churches in each wave. Wave One and Wave Two are complete. Wave Three is continuing to kick off in the remaining parishes.
Steier Group, a capital campaign fundraising firm out of Omaha, Nebraska, has assisted dioceses in similar campaigns all around the country. Corporate donations have covered the fees for Steier Group to assist the diocese in managing the campaign.
For more information, visit dioceseofnashville.com/legacy.