Capital Campaign – Imagine the Possibilities
Imagine the Possibilities
Minnesota Catholics have always seen opportunity in hardship. They built homes on barren lands near frozen lakes. They believed in seasons and sacraments. They turned their vision into reality.
When an East Coast newspaperman visited Minnesota in 1885, he declared the young state unfit for human habitation.
Two decades later, undaunted, a group of Catholics laid claim on an abandoned church building, assembling three teams of horses to slide it across frozen Prior Lake and perch it just south of Colorado Street. They seized the winter’s advantage, a shorter lakeside route, and the Church of St. Michael was born.
A century has passed – nine popes, 19 presidents, 11 pastors – and the Church of St. Michael is flourishing, home to 2,700 families. They gather for baptisms and funerals, for ordinary Sundays and Easter Sundays, for retreats and fish fries – to search within, to reach out.
Time and again, the Church of St. Michael has been propelled by leaps of faith and finance, parishioners who see what their church could be, roll up their sleeves and help realize it. The parish provides a host of programs: a flourishing youth ministry; a faith filled Catholic school educating more than 500 students PreK to 8th ; dedicated committees for respect life and social justice; and outreach to military families, cancer patients, college students and others in need. Parishioners give to the poor and homeless, help at Loaves & Fishes and Feed My Starving Children, take mission trips and actively support their sister parish in Chimbote, Peru, where 3,400 patients were seen by a medical staff last year because of the Church of St. Michael.
When a parish fifth-grader was diagnosed with leukemia, the congregation rallied behind him. Parents intuitively understand how to help each other, one mother said, and children learn compassion.
Father Thomas Sieg has been a priest for 40 years, and his seven at the Church of St. Michael have introduced him to incredible Catholics. “I am touched by their commitment to the church and to the faith, even to the point where I think, ‘That person would be a better pastor than I am,’” he said.
With such a thriving community, the need for expansion was impossible to ignore. In 2000, the Church of St. Michael began an addition to the school’s Education Center, an integral space that supports the Catholic school, Vacation Bible School and parish-wide faith formation from preschool to middle school. In 2002, the Holy Family room was added to the church, providing more worship space and a comfortable environment for families with young children.
While these were wise investments, the mortgage was sobering: $3.0 million as of June, 2007. It challenged parish staff to exercise fiscal responsibility, managing money as prudently as possibly. And they did…living within our means, achieving a balanced operating budget, negotiating low interest rates and paying down the debt. Parishioners have responded generously to past capital campaigns, giving of their limited resources to chip away at the debt. The impact was impressive: As of April 2012, the mortgage will stand at $1.6 million.
Now is the time to launch a pivotal capital campaign to eliminate the mortgage altogether and move forward, fueled by faith and unshackled by debt. Every dollar donated will go directly to the mortgage!
The Church of St. Michael has been paying $7,000 a month in interest, a reality that pains Father Sieg. “Imagine how much more good we could do, how many more people we could help, how many ways this parish could be better if we were not making that payment every month,” he said.
Father Sieg immediately thinks of the Church of St. Michael sister parish, whose aid has been restricted by their debt. Here in Prior Lake, he thinks of more vibrant youth programs and adult Bible studies to cultivate lifelong faith. He thinks of providing even more help to those in need in our parish and community. He thinks of the scholarships that could be extended to families attending St. Michael Catholic School or the Faith Formation program. The scholarship fund currently doesn’t meet this need. A few months into the school year, if someone loses a job, assistance is difficult to obtain.
Father Sieg has great confidence in his parishioners. He is inspired by the dad who is simplifying his life and spending his time in a way that reflects his values: family meals, weekly adoration, volunteering for various parish ministries. He’s asking the bigger questions: “How can I help our church grow and how I can help spread the Gospel? How can I have an impact?”
Most days we’re too busy tackling to-dos to consider a concept so lofty as legacy. But this is it – this is how the invitation presents itself. It is an opportunity to be a good neighbor in a community at its best: people bound by geography and belief. It is a chance to make a difference for your family and for future generations. It is a summons to not only preserve the Church of St. Michael, but to improve it, to leave it better than it was when you arrived. That is a driving force for Father Sieg, who retires in four years. “I would just love to retire and hand over a debt-free parish to the next pastor,” he said.
Father Sieg recognizes that raising $1.6 million will require some sacrifice, yet is an achievable goal. “If we all repeat our annual contribution from the last campaign – and extend the campaign to a four year term – we will raise about $1.4 million. I know that the remaining $200,000 will be a challenge. But I also know that we have been blessed and that the Holy Spirit is at work in our parish. I’ve witnessed how our parishioners have met past challenges with passion and with a firm conviction to accomplish even more of God’s work in the future”.
If you have never donated to the Church of St. Michael, would you consider giving? And if you have generously supported your church in the past, please contemplate a bigger gift. Paying off the mortgage is a tangible difference, a sizable dent you can make today. We realize every dollar matters, regardless of your income. Stewardship is not just a financial matter but a spiritual one – a calculation and a reflection on the many blessings in one’s life. When you believe in the giver of all gifts, the path forward becomes clear.
Now is the time to eliminate our debt – finally, fully – and give flight to a new set of dreams. We call on the pioneering spirit of the Church of St. Michael founders, whose heart and horsepower moved that church across the ice.
Please pray for our Capital Campaign with the following prayer. Thank you. Imagine the Possibilities Prayer