Catholic Free Press

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  • Aug
  • 2

Partners head prays for success

Posted By August 2, 2012 | 1:24 pm | Lead Story #2
By Patricia O’Connell CFP Correspondent WORCESTER – The Partners in Charity campaign is headed toward the finish line. There’s less than a month to go. And, right now, it’s $347,896 short of its $5 million goal. The annual appeal has received gifts and pledges totaling $4,652,104, or 93 percent of the $5 million goal. This is $48,245 more than was raised at the same time last year. Michael Gillespie, 42, a Charlton resident, watches these figures closely. On any given day, he can tell you where the drive stands, down to the last dollar. He knows exactly how many have contributed and how many are new donors. So far, there have been 19,583 donors. There have been about 1,400 new donors this year; they have given a total of $149,800.

By Patricia O’Connell
CFP Correspondent

WORCESTER – The Partners in Charity campaign is headed toward the finish line.
There’s less than a month to go. And, right now, it’s $347,896 short of its $5 million goal. The annual appeal has received gifts and pledges totaling $4,652,104, or 93 percent of the $5 million goal. This is $48,245 more than was raised at the same time last year.
Michael Gillespie, 42, a Charlton resident, watches these figures closely. On any given day, he can tell you where the drive stands, down to the last dollar.
He knows exactly how many have contributed and how many are new donors. So far, there have been 19,583 donors. There have been about 1,400 new donors this year; they have given a  total of $149,800.
As head of the Office of Stewardship and Development, Mr. Gillespie oversees the campaign that supports 28 ministries.
“We’re just really encouraging those who have not given to make a gift, no matter the size,” he said. “It’s more important to be invited to make a gift, rather than the gift size.”
Mr. Gillespie insisted he isn’t nervous, as the Aug. 31 deadline approaches.
Instead, he’s just praying.
The campaign is slightly ahead of where it was last year at this time. Money is still coming in, either at the parish level or, with increasing frequency, through the Partners in Charity website at www.partners-charity.net.
“I’m not stressed,” he said. “I truly believe that we really are going to reach goal.”
Since we last spoke, Mr. Gillespie was hoping the 4,000 donors who’ve given previously, but haven’t this year, would do so. As of last week that number had fallen to 3,500.
Many of these people still might give if asked, again, directly by their pastors, noted Mr. Gillespie.
The power and the impact of a pastor’s invitation is immense, he said.
Forty-eight of the 104 parishes in the diocese have reached or exceeded their goals, the same number as did so by this time last year. A majority of those parishes that have not yet reached their goals are within about $4,000 of doing so, Mr. Gillespie said.
Mr. Gillespie hopes those close to the mark will hold another mid-summer, in-pew collection. He said a number already plan to do so.
“Sometimes that’s all it takes to reach goal,” he noted.
Mr. Gillespie is well aware some families face economic hardship.
“We understand the current economic challenges we find ourselves in,” he said. “These are uncharted times.”
Many people struggle financially, noted Mr. Gillespie, who said some of them are only able to make relatively small donations of $15 to $20. He’s seen $2 gifts this year and he’s also logged proceeds from a children’s lemonade stand. He’s seen $3 gifts from children enrolled in religious education programs.
Donors sometimes send in their gift with a letter explaining they’d give more, if circumstances were different.
“Some of those who gave last year are not in a position to give,” he acknowledged.
In the past, Mr. Gillespie, who has worked with Partners in Charity before taking on the lead job this year, has heard from alienated Catholics not inclined to give. He answered them with a personal letter.
“I have to say I have not received any letters like that this year,” he stated.
Mr. Gillespie believes much of what happens from now until the end of August is out of his hands and beyond his control.
“I’m praying, I’m prayerful,” he said. “I really trust. We have to trust in our people. We have to trust in God.
To sum it all up, Mr. Gillespie said he believes, in this instance, God will provide.
“Oh, I do believe it. He always does, he always has and he always will.”
Those ministries supported by the appeal include:
Charity: Catholic Charities, Clergy Retirement, Retired Priests Health Ministry, Haitian Apostolate, McAuley Nazareth Home for Boys, Pernet Family Health Service, Seminarian Health Insurance, St. John’s Diocesan Cemetery System, Diocesan Development, Stewardship.
Education: Catholic Campus Ministry, Catholic Schools Department, The Office of Religious Education, Ongoing Priestly Formation, Diocesan Youth Ministry, Grants-in-Aid for Catholic School Students, Seminarian Education, Central Catholic Schools Subsidy, Advanced Studies for Clergy and Laity.
Ministry: African Ministry, Hispanic Ministry, Office of Marriage and Family, Ministry to Priests, Office of the Diaconate, Respect Life Office, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Vocations Office, Office for Divine Worship.