During last year’s Feasibility Study to gather parishioner feedback regarding our participation in the upcoming Archdiocesan capital campaign, To Teach Who Christ Is, there was a strong desire expressed to delay the launch of this initiative for one year. Recognizing that we are required to participate in this effort, along with every parish in the Chicago Archdiocese, we requested – and were granted – a delayed start date. With that time now past, we are in the planning phase for this important effort. While To Teach Who Christ Is was launched in the Archdiocese more than four years ago, there may be parishioners who are unfamiliar with the campaign and its objectives. We will be providing information during the next several weeks through the Arrow and on this webpage, so that the people of St. Giles are well versed as they make their decisions regarding volunteer, financial and prayerful participation. In addition, we will share the details of the funding priorities for our campus buildings which are currently being finalized.

What exactly is To Teach Who Christ Is? It is a capital and endowment campaign, originally spearheaded by Francis Cardinal George, to raise a minimum of $350 million in gifts and pledges for parishes, faith formation, scholarships to Catholic schools, and critical facility issues. Priorities of the campaign were identified in a comprehensive Case, which included input from administrators, educators, pastors and staff. The campaign’s fundraising goals have been outlined as:

Scholarships − $150 million allocated for scholarships will generate millions of dollars annually for new and continuing needs-based scholarships.

Program Enhancements for Catholic Schools − $8 million of direct cash infusion will ensure academic excellence.

Strengthening Religious Education Programs − $10 million will support Religious Education programs.

“Next Generation” Religious Education − $2 million will develop and pilot new approaches to religious education and faith formation.

Capital Needs − $30 million will address specific capital needs in Catholic schools and related parish facilities.

Parish Needs − $150 million will address parish-specific needs through the parish-based portion of the campaign. This number reflects a total parish-based campaign goal of $250 million, of which 60 percent ($150 million) will remain at the parishes for their needs and 40 percent ($100 million) will come to the Archdiocese to meet parish needs.

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., chose the theme because of its significance to his order, his vision of our Archdiocese and the spirit of the campaign. To Teach Who Christ Is comes from the writings of St. Eugene de Mazenod, founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who sought to teach “who Jesus Christ is.” At St. Eugene’s canonization, Pope John Paul II reflected that he was “a man of Advent, a man of the Coming. He not only looked forward to that Coming, he dedicated his whole life to preparing for it, one of those apostles who prepared the modern age, our age.”

As Cardinal Blase Cupich now leads the effort, he reinforces the hopes and dreams of Cardinal George. “The Cardinal shared with me the needs which the campaign will address and why the very ambitious goal of $350 million has been set. A majority of the funds raised will be returned to parishes for their unique needs. Building strong parishes is essential to current and future generations of Catholics, and $150 million will directly benefit the needs, and reward the efforts, of our parishes. Also vital is ensuring Catholic education is always available to families in need. A second $150 million is being directed to the newly established Catholic Education Scholarship Trust to ensure scholarship awards are available to our children, our grandchildren, and even their children! This endowed fund truly helps guarantee excellence in Catholic education in perpetuity. How exciting it is to see faith formation being taken to a new, innovative level, and support given to catechists, as well as facility and life safety issues being addressed at our most vulnerable churches and properties.”

A pilot initiative of To Teach Who Christ Is, the Caritas Scholars Program, has already provided scholarships to more than 2,000 children. These scholarship awards are not only helping to eliminate the financial barriers that often stand between families and a Catholic education, they are being given to children and their families – not to schools. Caritas scholarships follow children to whatever Catholic school they choose to attend, a measure of flexibility that will further help sustain the Catholic school system.

With regard to religious education, this is a ministry for which all Catholics are responsible. More than 96,000 elementary and secondary school children are enrolled in religious education programs in parishes throughout Cook and Lake Counties. In addition, parishes provide religious education to teens through youth ministry as well as to adults, including those seeking to enrich their journey with Christ or join our faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Ensuring that religious education remains a high priority requires educated and trained catechetical leaders to teach the Word and parish programs that evolve along with the communities they serve. To Teach Who Christ Is will provide $10 million for formation programs leading to Archdiocesan certification of religious education coordinators as well as youth ministers, and the ongoing formation of certified religious education directors and other certified catechetical leaders.

“Day after day, both in and around the temple” – Those involved with ministry in the Church today are keenly aware of the need to effectively engage children, youth, young adults and adults in their Catholic faith. Parishes throughout the United States, including in the Archdiocese of Chicago, are now creating innovative religious education programs based on new models of child, youth and adult learning. To Teach Who Christ Is seeks to provide a minimum of $2 million to identify, study and replicate the current best approaches to religious education. The Archdiocesan Department of Parish Life and Formation will engage a group of parish leaders with a goal of examining strong religious education and faith formation programs and then, after measuring outcomes, replicating them for broader use. Funds for innovation will support the enhancement of religious education programs in parishes, as well as professional development, staff and volunteer training, and equipment.

A vibrant parish life is central to fulfilling the mission of the Church. The To Teach Who Christ Is campaign is helping to strengthen and sustain parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago. The funds that remain in the parishes ensure our faith communities are economically stable and can continue to bear hope through their presence, sacramental life and ministries. Each parish has been assigned a campaign target − a goal that is 130% of their total annual offertory giving, including Christmas and Easter collections. Parishes keep 60% of all funds they raise for needs they identify and share the remaining 40% with other parishes and ministries for the benefit of Catholics throughout the Archdiocese. Parishes exceeding their goals keep 100% of the funds collected above their campaign target.

More than 2,800 individual structures − sacred spaces as well as parish activity buildings, convents, rectories and schools − can be found in Cook and Lake counties. Many of these buildings have needs and issues beyond what some parishes in distressed communities are able to address given their financial circumstances. Addressing these issues in a timely manner is often critical. A full $30 million of the funds raised for To Teach Who Christ Is will be designated for urgently needed repairs in low-income parishes and to help them provide for handicapped accessible services. In addition, a facilities information management system has been created to track projects across the Archdiocese and allow for a more collaborative and economical approach to purchase construction services.

Here at St. Giles, the portion of funds we will retain will go toward continued care for our beautiful complex which will include the tuckpointing of the Church and the completion of new windows in the Frawley Building. All improvements will help us continue as a vibrant family of faith. Future bulletin articles will offer more detail on the priorities on which we will focus.

If you are eager to learn more now rather than wait until next week’s article, additional information can be found at http://www.toteachwhochristis.org/.