Holy Trinity parish rallies to raise funds for a youth minister

Father Wilbroad Mwape speaks with parishioner Carol Christian during Holy Trinity's 100th anniversary celebration in 2017. (File photo)

ORANGEBURG­—In the spirit of giving, parishioners at Holy Trinity Church far exceeded their fundraising goal for the Bicentennial Campaign and will soon have their first-ever youth program director as a result.  

Father Wilbroad Mwape, pastor of Holy Trinity, said the desire to have a youth director resulted in not just meeting their Bicentennial goal, but exceeding it by 254%. 

When Holy Trinity began the campaign in August 2018, they set their sights on raising $280,000. Father Mwape thought that would be a great start to a proper youth program. 

Through a massive communication endeavor led by Father Mwape and about 12 volunteers, they raised $712,293 in just four months. 

Their goal was to get a donation, no matter how small, from everyone in the parish. Father Mwape said how much people gave surprised him in the most amazing way. 

“You have to understand,” he said, “we are not a rich parish. The way they all rallied around this mission was inspiring and something I will never forget. They all came together to provide for our youth program and it made me so proud.” 

He said that over half of their youth are Spanish-speaking, so for the past year they searched for a director fluent in Spanish and English who would best fit the parish. 

Father Mwape said they have a candidate from Colombia and are working on the immigration process now, with a start date in 2020.

The money from the Bicentennial Campaign will fund the program, including the director, for five years, and Father Mwape is hopeful it will extend beyond that. 

Kathy Gibney, who served on the parish campaign, said the fundraiser came at the right time, when they were contemplating how to start a youth program. 

“We knew we needed a long-term plan and the Bicentennial Campaign allowed us to do that,” she said. “I was so happy and surprised at how everyone in our parish wanted to do it. They wanted to give.”

Communication was key in their success. Father Mwape spoke about their goals at Mass, sent letters to parishioners, wrote about it in the church bulletin, set up information tables after Masses, organized phone banks, held question and answer sessions at the church, and met personally with large donors.

He said that if his small parish of 368 households can do this, then it is possible for all other parishes to do the same. 

“We worked hard and prayed over this. It has paid off and we are really looking forward to what our new youth program can bring to our parish,” he said. “I am so grateful to my committee of volunteers and to my parishioners for coming together and making this a reality. I look forward to the future and all that we can accomplish.” 

The diocese will celebrate their Bicentennial in 2020. The fundraising campaign is to prepare for the demands of the next century of Catholic evangelization. 

Proceeds from each parish campaign are split 50-50, and sharing begins with the first dollar raised, said Carrie Mummert, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement. Once a parish reaches 125%, it keeps 100% of the funds raised beyond the campaign target. 

By Theresa Stratford