Re-Igniting Our Faith Is a Call to Rebuild Community
By Molly Halpin
Many have experienced decreasing numbers in their church communities first hand and, with that, increasing worries about the future of their parishes. But, in a presentation about the Re-Igniting Our Faith Campaign given to the employees at the Pastoral Center on March 8, Bishop Edward B. Sharfenberger emphasized that no one should ever lose hope. “Jesus came to the earth to light the world on fire,” he said. “He is still in all of us.”
The Re-Igniting Our Faith Campaign, which was launched in nine pilot parishes last summer, aims to reinvigorate and strengthen parish communities. Each parish is encouraged to raise 125 percent of its average annual income from the previous three years. This process is being implemented with the help of the campaign team from Changing Our World, a philanthropic consulting firm, using a proven formula that has already seen success in the pilot parishes from different regions of the Diocese.
Seventy percent of the money raised will go backto the parish for evangelization, program support, capital improvements, and strengthening community at the local level. The remaining 30 percent will be allocated to benefit the pastoral needs of all parishes at the diocesan level, specifically to care for retired priests, support the continued growth of vocations, support faith formation and evangelization, and develop resources for Catholic schools.. “The health of the Diocese depends on the health of our parishes,” Bishop Scharfenberger said.
The Bishop and the campaign team presented information about Re-Igniting Our Faith to those who work at the Pastoral Center so they might serve as a resource for those who have questions. “People may not be comfortable calling me but may know you work here at the Pastoral Center, and ask you about Re-Igniting Our Faith,” Bishop Scharfenberger explained.
The focus of the Re- Igniting Our Faith Campaign is re-igniting joy in faith and bringing back parishioners who have distanced themselves from their church communities.
“Evangelization is about listening,” Bishop Scharfenberger said, explaining that the campaign starts at the individual level. Those who are strong in their faith need to listen to those who have distanced themselves from the Church. The campaign aims to rebuild the community starting with gaining an understanding of why some parishioners no longer feel they can call the Church home. “It might be your neighbor; it might be someone under your own roof,” Bishop Scharfenberger added.
The Bishop compared the Catholic faith to a gas stove: there is a pilot light which is lit at baptism; it remains lit and serves as a source for the burners so they can heat and cook. The Re-Igniting Our Faith Campaign hopes to reach those who “whose pilot light is lit but they aren’t necessarily cooking anymore.” He said he hopes the campaign will strengthen the parish community so those who are lonely and isolated can find their way back.
The Re-Igniting our Faith Campaign aims to light the fire in all Catholics, not just those who feel isolated or distance from the church. Its goal is to bring back a sense of hope for the future, empower and enable parishes and parishioners to strengthen their communities, and recreate the idea of “home.”
Bishop Scharfenberger reminded those attending the presentation that God’s love can fill any void. “A home is by definition a place where you can knock and will always be welcome,” the Bishop said, knocking on the wall for emphasis, “The Church is meant to be a home.”