Omaha, Neb., archdiocese's capital campaign tops $52 million

Omaha, Neb. — A capital campaign in the Omaha archdiocese has exceeded its $40 million goal with more than $52 million pledged for three to five years from more than 17,000 pledges.

"I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Catholics all across the archdiocese," said Omaha Archbishop George Lucas, adding that he is "grateful for this expression of faith on the part of so many."

The campaign, called Ignite the Faith, was meant to bolster schools, faith formation in parishes, strengthen the priest retirement and seminary funds and meet parish-specific needs. It began two years ago and wrapped up in December.

Fr. Ryan Lewis, pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Omaha and a member of the clergy executive committee, said the campaign "really shows a commitment by the people of the archdiocese."

At a recent gathering, Lucas and Shannan Brommer, director of the Office of Stewardship and Development, thanked the 175 clergy and lay leaders who worked on the campaign.

The archbishop said the campaign not only met financial goals but also strengthened the faith of parishioners, noting that "so many people were willing to share their own faith and the power and experience of their faith."

From the start, the archdiocese involved many people in the campaign, gathering information months in advance to help establish goals through town hall meetings, online and in-person interviews of clergy, school leaders and parishioners. More than 1,000 people volunteered with the campaign, explaining the effort to fellow parishioners and obtaining pledges in homes, coffeehouses, churches and parish centers.

The campaign was the first major fundraising initiative under Lucas and was the most ambitious in the archdiocese's history. A campaign in 2000 raised $25 million.

The effort grew out of a multiyear planning process that developed long-term goals for Catholic education and a strategic plan to strengthen schools and parishes in Omaha.

The archbishop took a final list of capital campaign priorities to major donors in the spring of 2013, and began the first of three waves of parish-based fundraising that summer.

Money raised that exceeds the goal will be distributed proportionally to the campaign's stated aims. About $11 million in campaign funds are already in use across the archdiocese, which includes funds for parish-specific needs that include hiring youth ministers, painting a church interior and renovating a parish center kitchen.

Jim Pillen of St. Isidore Parish in Columbus, who with his wife, Suzanne, served as one of eight couples co-chairing the overall campaign, said its success is a testament to Lucas' leadership and the generosity of Catholics in northeast Nebraska.

"This effort will have a profound and lasting impact on children, teachers and people throughout the archdiocese," Pillen said.

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