As you may have heard, a major campaign is underway at Our Lady of Hope Parish. Catholic Strong, the Campaign for the Catholic Community of South Jersey, is seeking to secure a minimum of $50 million, which will primarily benefit our local parishes. Seventy percent of the funds raised through this effort (a total of $35 million) will be allocated for parish needs and thirty percent (a total of $15 million) will fund the diocese’s coordination and support of various ministries. The mission of this campaign is to ensure that our parishes are financially stable and allow the diocese the opportunity to address long-term and extraordinary needs so that our Church will have the strength and stability to serve future generations of Catholics.
The history of Our Lady of Hope is rich and filled with the dedication and sacrifices of so many. From our humble beginnings as the mission of Saint Agnes formed in 1921, Catholics from this area gathered to hear the Gospel preached and they sacrificially supported the work of the Church. From that mission, Bishop Eustace of Camden established the Parish of Saint Agnes on April 28, 1948. A school was built the following fall on Church Street by Msgr. McMahon. Father Keiser succeeded him and looked to build a church and hall in 1959 on the Black Horse Pike.
Archbishop Celestine Damiano established the parish of Saint Jude in 1961 and the school and convent was completed in 1964. Father Onufer subsequently built a church and rectory in 1978.
The two schools of Saint Agnes and Saint Jude merged in 2008. It was that same year that plans to expand the school building on the Black Horse Pike were developed to accommodate the sizeable student population. The new construction and renovated classrooms were dedicated in September of 2010.
Today, we celebrate Mass with a vibrant, diverse, and faith-filled congregation of over 5400 families. Our parishioners have grown and nurtured their faith through our many liturgical and outreach ministries that provide support and serve the needs of our parish families. Through all that we do, we are committed to addressing the spiritual, physical, emotional, and social needs of all people through service to individuals, families, and the greater community.
When we reflect on all of our blessings, we celebrate what we have inherited due to the extraordinary sacrifices of previous generations of parishioners, and we remain grateful for the community of faith, love, and joy that prospers here today. While we have been extremely fortunate, we cannot rest on what we have accomplished, but instead must continue to grow and expand to meet our future needs.
The Catholic Community of South Jersey has evolved tremendously over the course of its 80 year existence. Now, the time has come for this generation of Catholics to contribute to the great history of our diocese. We must invest in evangelization programs, lay faith formation, and professional development for parish staff and ministers.
As vital and active members of the Diocese of Camden wishing to make our contribution, we are beginning the Catholic Strong campaign to provide the resources needed to ensure our parishes are financially stable, strengthen Catholic education, expand our outreach capabilities, and enhance our evangelization efforts. A successful campaign will ensure the vitality of our faith communities and ultimately meet the evolving needs of our diocese.
Every parish will share in these efforts with an allocated goal. Our parish target is to raise a minimum of $1,425,000, of which we will receive 70% of the collected amount (or a minimum of $997,500), that will go toward parish needs. We will also include our 2018 House of Charity target ($217,000) in the overall total. Therefore, our total parish target is $1,562,000. Additionally, we will receive 80% of all funds collected over our parish target. We will use our share of funds to address the following needs:
- Programs and Ministries $400,000
- We will hire a full-time youth minister to grow and enhance our current youth and young adult programs. Money from this campaign will provide funding for salaries and benefits for three years. ($300K)
- We will create an outdoor mediation area for prayer and contemplation, which will include outdoor Stations of the Cross, lighting, benches, paving, and a grotto with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Hope. ($100K)
- Enhancing Our Parish Community $300,000
- Install state of the art security alarm systems and cameras for both churches, St. Jude and St. Agnes, the Parish Center, Rectory and all buildings on both campuses. ($100K)
- Improve the lighting and reduce electricity expense in both churches through the acquisition and installation of energy efficient lighting systems. ($100K)
- Repair and repave St. Jude parking lot, re-upholster the pews at St. Agnes, replace the roof on the workshop shed at the Parish Center. ($100K)
- Reduce Parish Debt $46,200
- A portion of funds will be used to reduce our parish debt.
- 2018 House of Charity $217,000
- Funds from this campaign will be used to meet our 2018 House of Charity goal to fund the ongoing programs, services, and ministries of the Diocese of Camden.
*Above costs are projections and require further consultation with the diocese
We are asking our parish family to lend generous support to the campaign. As our current parishioners, we now call upon you to carry on the generosity, spirit, and sacrifice that filled the hearts of the men and women who have supported our parish and diocese throughout our history.
As we have been blessed, let us act as stewards by supporting the Catholic Strong campaign to preserve the essence of what we and all of the faithful within the greater Church in South Jersey are blessed to have and to ensure the Church’s presence in the lives of our children and grandchildren.