When the archdiocesan capital campaign, Renew + Rebuild, was launched in 2016, Cardinal Dolan entrusted it to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“As usual, Jesus and Mary came through, and we render them praise as we come together as an archdiocesan family to say, ‘Thank God,’” Cardinal Dolan said in his homily at a recent Mass heralding the campaign a success.
At the start of the campaign, a goal of $200 million was set. To date, $240 million in pledge commitments has been raised.
Among those assembled for the late afternoon liturgy June 20 in the Cardinal Spellman Recreation Center on the grounds of St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie, and an outdoor reception that followed, were pastors, donors who have contributed to Renew + Rebuild and volunteers who have assisted the campaign through their individual parishes.
The gathering served as a celebration and recognition of their support. “I’m looking out at some of those leaders this evening and, alleluia, you’ve done a phenomenal job,” the cardinal said.
“And most of all, after God, do we not thank, just the down-to-earth, meat and potato people of this Archdiocese of New York? These are the ones that have dug deep; some of them have made extraordinarily generous gifts, others have written on the card, ‘I wish I could do more, I love Jesus, I love His Church, I love this archdiocese, right now this is all I can pledge.’”
So far, 35,000 households have contributed to Renew + Rebuild.
“Tonight, we’re here to acknowledge the hard work of our hundreds of pastors and tens of thousands of parishioners who gave of their time and resources to help make Renew + Reubild a success,” said Bettina Alonso, executive director of Development for the archdiocese, in remarks during the program after Mass.
“This has been a very rewarding journey for all of us, and this journey very much tells the story of who we are today as Catholics, as a Church that comes together, working toward a common cause” for the benefit of the parishes of the archdiocese.
Msgr. J. Christopher Maloney, pastor of St. John the Baptist and Most Holy Trinity parish in Yonkers, delivered remarks to highlight a pastor’s perspective of the campaign. “Actually, you’re in my parish,” he said, referencing the proximity of the attendees assembled at the seminary, “and I’m tempted to take up a collection,” he quipped.
“When I first heard our goal,” he said, which was over $1 million, “probably, like a lot of you when you first heard your goal, my reaction was” one of astonishment, he said.
“And yet, as we collaborated, as we spoke about it, as we prayed together, I thought of an old Chinese proverb which I quoted many times in the course of our campaign: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
“And every day you did exactly that in your parish. You made that step…You took that step, and you kept taking it.
“All of us,” Msgr. Maloney continued of the campaign, “whatever our different strengths, weaknesses and experiences were, we all, thanks be to God, had the leadership of a great archbishop, Cardinal Dolan.” That drew rousing applause from the attendees.
“He was able to get us to keep our eyes on the prize...Whether we got to a thousand miles or not, wherever we got on that journey, if we were doing our best, we were a success.”
Gail O’Rourke, a volunteer for Renew + Rebuild at St. Anthony’s parish in Yonkers, also shared her experiences during the program. “Whether it was making calls, staying after Mass, meeting fellow parishioners face to face to share our love of St. Anthony’s, and the importance of the meetings of well-known needs to our physical plant, it truly became a wonderful opportunity to get to know one another with more of a more respectful nod than we usually do as we get into our pews each and every Sunday.”
She added, “We surpassed our original goal of $750,000 by an additional 34 percent, and received pledges of slightly less than $1 million—a great achievement for a small, middle-class parish in North Yonkers.” The pastor is Father Arthur Mastrolia.
All parishes have participated in the campaign or are in the final phase, according to Joseph Ferrara, director of major campaigns and operations for the archdiocese.
By September, all parishes of the archdiocese will have completed all activity for the entire campaign. The pledges come in for each parish on an ongoing basis during their active phase, and are payable over a five-year period.
“It’s a big night,” Ferrara told CNY before the Mass. “The campaign’s really had a huge impact on parishes throughout the archdiocese. So it’s a really nice event to be able to celebrate the people who are involved in making that happen.”
Last September, the campaign reached the $200 million milestone. It is projected the campaign will reach between $250 million and $260 million upon its conclusion in September.
Seventy-four percent of money raised by parishes will stay within parishes; the remainder will support campaign costs and other archdiocesan priorities.
Surpassing the campaign goal is “really incredible,” Ferrara said. “The real significance of this event is that the reason we were able to do it is because of the people in this room, and the people throughout the archdiocese who supported the campaign so generously with their time, and their talent and their treasure.”
Among the major benefactors are Dr. Anthony and Lee-Ann Mercando of St. Joseph’s parish in Bronxville. They are the parents of four grown children and grandparents of four.
The couple shared their reasons for giving with CNY.
“We’ve been donators to the Cardinal’s Stewardship Appeal for many years, and then when we were asked to do this, to help our parish, we felt, looking around, we could see a lot of infrastructure that needed to be updated and fixed,” said Dr. Mercando, 64, who is a cardiologist.
“That’s very, very important for everybody—for homeowners, and for a church and a business—so that’s why we were willing to do that, and we’re very happy that we did,” he said.
As Catholics, is important to give to the Church in this way, and to keep positive during the Church’s challenging times, particularly now, said Mrs. Mercando, 63, a retired registered nurse. “We still love our Church, despite all the flaws and failings,” she said.
Dr. Mercando said the people of God are called to support the Church, both spiritually and physically. “If we don’t give, who will? We are the Church.
“The Church is not a building, the Church is people,” he added. “At the same time, we have to support the Church because it does have a building. You have to be practical about it.”