Akron’s St. Mary Parish will be among the first beneficiaries of money from a capital campaign that has netted nearly $171 million to fund programs in education, ministry and social services in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.
“I just signed off on a grant for the parish to do some updates here at the school,” Cleveland Bishop Richard G. Lennon said Tuesday, following a news conference at the parish school to detail the unprecedented results of the “Rooted In Faith — Forward in Hope” fundraising effort the Catholic Community Foundation conducted.
The nearly two-year campaign exceeded its $125 million goal by about 37 percent. Use of the money is limited to five areas: education ($40 million), strengthening parishes ($37.5 million); clergy formation and care for retired priests ($25 million), evangelization and faith formation ($15 million) and charitable works ($7.5 million). All money raised above the goal will be divided in all areas, except strengthening parishes.
“Most of the funds are in endowments, so every year these dollars should work for us,” said Lennon, standing in front of a banner St. Mary students made for his visit. The banner depicted a shepherd, wearing red and carrying a staff, watching over a flock of sheep. The caption read: “Thank You Bishop Lennon for being a Good Shepherd for Your Flock at Saint Mary School.”
The school applied for an $80,000 grant to update the restrooms in its nearly century-old building. The specific amount that has been awarded will be disclosed soon.
“Thank you, God!” said Terry Kowalski, principal at the K-8 elementary school, when learning that St. Mary is on the list of schools to receive money from the $40 million education allocation. “We really need that money to renovate our lavatories. We do great work here. We are very pleased with the parent support, the dedication of the staff and the commitment of the students, but the building is old.”
The school, with an enrollment of 175 students, is considered the primary outreach ministry of St. Mary parish. Its population is 92 percent non-Catholic, 87 percent black, 8 percent Hispanic and 5 percent white.
St. Mary is one of 11 parishes in the Cleveland diocese that recently reopened and did not participate in the capital campaign. Those parishes can apply for grants that are funded from the campaign, Lennon said.
Overall, 174 parishes in the eight-county diocese participated in the fundraising effort. Of those parishes, 103 exceeded their individual goals. Thirty percent of the money raised up to the goal and 70 percent of the money raised above the goal stays in each parish.
During the campaign, which started in early 2010 and concluded last December, St. Mary was closed as part of a merger with the neighboring St. Bernard parish. St. Bernard raised $659,897, far exceeding its $290,000 goal.
The Rev. Dan Reed, pastor of both St. Bernard and St. Mary, said St. Bernard will use its share of the money raised to demolish the old school building on the downtown Akron property and make room for more parking.
A complete list of all parishes that participated in the campaign with details of goals and amounts raised can be found at www.catholiccommunity.org. The website also includes more information about the Rooted in Faith — Forward in Hope initiative and the Catholic Community Foundation.
The Cleveland diocese includes more than 700,000 Catholics in 185 parishes in Ashland, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Summit and Wayne counties. More information about the diocese can be found at www.dioceseofcleveland.org.
“I am very grateful for all of those who donated and for all of those who volunteered to make this campaign so successful,” Lennon said. “The people of the diocese have, once again, shown how generous they are in responding to the needs of people. And they have demonstrated the church’s commitment to ‘whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to me.’ ”
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or email@example.com. She can be followed at https://twitter.com/ColetteMJenkins.