Capital campaign begins final phase

CHARLESTON — “Our Heritage, Our Hope,” the largest fund-raising campaign in the history of the Diocese of Charleston, has achieved nearly 75 percent of its $32 million target, the firm conducting the effort announced.

Matthew Dwyer, campaign executive director of Guidance in Giving Inc., said that more than $23 million has been pledged, with approximately $3.2 million collected in cash payments and one-time gifts. He credited strong parish leadership and generous parishioners for the campaign’s success.

“The pastors and Catholic faithful across the state have really taken ownership of this project,” he said. “It goes to show that if you have a good case, a well thought-out plan and strong leadership in the parishes, you can accomplish great things.”

The campaign includes  fund raising for Catholic education, local parish needs, restoration of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and seminarian education. “Our Heritage, Our Hope” began last fall and enters its final phase this month.

The campaign, which seeks pledges over a three- to four- year period, is currently on track to surpass the $32 million target, Dwyer said.

“We still have a long way to go to fully fund all of our objectives,” Bishop Robert J. Baker said at a recent reception. “Our hope is to significantly surpass the target.”

Bishop Baker also commented on the importance of promoting stewardship as a way of life as people talk about the capital campaign.

“This is the Year of Stewardship for our diocese and we want to underline this capital campaign with the spiritual base,” he told a gathering at a campaign reception at St. Thomas More Church in Columbia. “The rootedness of generous giving comes right there in our faith, so we have to lay that foundation or we have no results at all.”

Last August the diocese mailed out more than $644,000 in campaign funds to Block I parishes, Dwyer said. Block I includes parishes that conducted campaigns in the fall of 2005. Parishes receive 50 percent of all funds raised beyond their 2006 Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal.

Sacred Heart in Charleston plans to upgrade the electrical system in the church and St. Thomas the Apostle in North Charleston plans on buying new lights and wiring for its church building, according to Dwyer. Stella Maris Church on Sullivan’s Island will use its money for painting the music building and youth and education cottage, as well as for maintenance and upkeep of the church, Dwyer said.

St. Mary of the Annunciation Church in Charleston  has  plans to update altar furniture and make improvements to the parish hall.

“From what I have seen, this is one of the most generous programs of any diocesan campaign in the country,” said Msgr. Joseph Roth, pastor of St. Mary and the Cathedral. “We are extremely grateful that Bishop Baker and the leaders of the campaign had the parishes in mind when they began this project. Our campaign proceeds will allow us to begin much-needed improvements to our altar furniture and buildings at St. Mary’s.”

Robert Maguire, a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament, served as co-chairman of the campaign for the past six months.

“In all honesty, what appealed to me about the way the campaign was structured … was that I knew precisely where the money was going and how much was going where, and the fact that each parish got the 50 percent split after the BSA (Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal) made it even more appealing,” he said.

The solicitation phase of the campaign will continue until the end of the year, while the pledge redemption will conclude in 2010.

For more information, contact the Diocese of Charleston Campaign Office at or (843) 958-2172.