Campaign aims to exceed $35 million goal
By Jean Torkelson
Photo by Bernard Grant
A New Harvest Campaign enters the home stretch this fall with an unmistakable message to share.
“People love their priests,” said Melissa Crowley, executive director for development at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. “The campaign proves that, if I can put … a seminarian in front of somebody, they respond. They know these young men will be present in the lives of families and communities across the Archdiocese of Denver for 30 to 50 years and that is powerful to consider.”
Answering the call
The campaign has been putting its future priests in front of people since October 2011, and it turns out that parishioners from Aspen to Akron like what they see. Answering the call, more than 9,000 families have pledged $23 million so far in sacrificial gifts to benefit Denver’s two Catholic seminaries in support of future priests.
The money will be used to upgrade the aging facilities at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, located on the grounds of the John Paul II Center, 1300 S. Steele St. St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary, which is also located at the JPII Center, combine to house 137 men currently studying for the priesthood—one of the highest numbers of seminarians in the country.
The campaign organized the archdiocese’s parishes into three major phases, consisting of two blocs of parishes. By the end of the year all of them will have heard A New Harvest’s message delivered by pulpit, print, video and fellow parishioner. That includes five parishes which formed the pilot program.
Based on the campaign so far, A New Harvest is on the path to reach its minimum $35 million goal by year’s end, Gerald J. “Bud” Laber, president of The Catholic Foundation, told the Denver Catholic Register last week.
“This is going very well, but we need to maintain the momentum because of uncertainties in the current economy,” Laber said. “I think that people, in some cases, are pleasantly surprised by the community’s response. People love their priests and they understand this campaign is about fostering an environment for the future priests of the archdiocese, and that it’s necessary to continue to have a strong Church in northern Colorado. When people have a chance to think about it and realize the benefits, they become generous and supportive.”
A New Harvest Campaign
To volunteer: Call your parish or the campaign office at 303-282-3452.
Photo by James Baca/DCR
The Catholic Foundation
The Catholic Foundation’s role is to receive and manage all the incoming funds, and, as owner of the funds, make annual distributions to the two seminaries. Under the distribution plan, $9 million is reserved for capital improvements and $26 million for an endowment fund.
Today and tomorrow
A New Harvest money will be used to make critical upgrades and improvements in seminary buildings that, in some cases, haven’t been updated in 80 years.
“You have a beautiful building with an old, tired system in it,” said Deacon John Neal, vice president of finance and operations for the seminaries. “Remember, the oldest building here was built in (the 1920s). You couldn’t continue to live this way much longer—it’s first aid, all the time. … I told the architects, ‘Guys, please understand, there’s no real … extravagance about this; this is a mechanical undertaking to bring this building to a place where it not only meets the needs of reasonable living for today, but for the next 30 years into the future.’”
First for fixing are the fundamentals—ancient pipes and electrical wiring, faulty windows and doors, and lack of proper heating and air conditioning. Seminarians and faculty report rusty drinking water, crumbling cement steps and a wheezing heat system that is more noisy than effective.
Msgr. Michael Glenn, rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, expressed his gratitude for the laity and priests who have led the campaign thus far.
A New Harvest funds allocation:
Endowment - $26 million
Capital repairs - $9 million
Photo by Bernard Grant
“In a particular way,” he said, “the generosity of the faithful has shown their deep love for the priests who have been part of their lives. … Their generosity is also an expression of support for the seminarians who one day will work alongside them.”
Melissa Crowley noted that when completed, thousands of families in the archdiocese and more than 1,000 volunteers will have contributed to the campaign’s success.
Crowley added that there is one more critical element to success: the spiritual leaders of A New Harvest, starting with Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., who launched the campaign, “followed by a man as grace-filled as Bishop Conley,” she said.
“And now we are blessed by another fantastic bishop, Archbishop (Samuel) Aquila, who was the first rector of St. John Vianney,” she said. Acknowledging the present rector, Msgr. Glenn, she added, “That’s as good as it gets—everything goes back to leadership.”