2015 has seen a number of positive developments at Saint Monica Parish. Examples include a revamped religious education curriculum and a new Confirmation preparation approach, the hiring of Jason Carter for Family and Youth Ministry, new youth advisory “Boards” for middle-school and high-school Youth Ministry, the completion of a long-range “Master Plan,” preparations for a number of activities in celebration of the World Meeting of Families, AbbyFest and certainly our Parish Family Feast Day Festival. I am personally proud and enthused to be a part of this parish and of these accomplishments. The support, work, encouragement and dedication of many parishioners and our staff are reasons for such success.
Another initiative the parish completed in 2015 was a capital campaign “Feasibility Study” to examine the possibility of addressing critical maintenance and repair needs, considering the expansion of the Church to create a “welcome and fellowship space” before and after Mass, renovating or re-purposing existing space to accommodate increased demand for parishioner socials, spiritual activities and meetings. In the spring, I included information about the study in the bulletin and sent a brochure home to all parishioners. An in-pew survey held just after Easter, together with close to 45 individual one-on-one interviews with selected families provided everyone the chance to weigh-in on the study. In the end, we had an over 60% parish response rate across all age demographics. I am very grateful for your feedback and candor. The information has helped us tremendously in shaping our vision for a campaign. The study examined two major areas: a comprehensive insight into the various aspects of parish life and the examination of the details surrounding a capital campaign. It is my pleasure to now share with you some of the key results of the study.
Overall, the results of the Feasibility Study in the area of parish life were extremely positive. Parishioners provided feedback about the parish in the following areas:
- Physical Facilities: +93% (27% Good; 44 Very Good; 22% Excellent)
- Pastoral Leadership: +94% (15% Good; 41% Very Good; 38% Excellent)
- Liturgy: +94% (16% Good; 36% Very Good; 42% Excellent)
- Ministries: +90% (23% Good; 43% Very Good; 24% Excellent)
- Staff and Administration: +85% (25% Good; 35% Very Good; 25% Excellent)
- Religious Education; +54% (23% Good; 22% Very Good; 9% Excellent) [i]
- Youth Ministry: +41% (20% Good; 16% Very Good; 5% Excellent) [ii]
- Community Outreach: +60% (26% Good; 23% Very Good; 11% Excellent) [iii]
- Overall Perception of St. Monica Parish: +94% (29% Good; 43% Very Good; 22% Excellent)
When we inquired about a capital campaign, 74% of the parishioners responded that the pursuit of a capital campaign for Saint Monica’s at this time was feasible and that the timing and focus were appropriate. When asked about priorities for a campaign, the survey results indicated the following as “essential, important or somewhat important:”
- Critical Repairs – 93% (Essential 59%; Important 23%; Somewhat Important 11%)
- Renovations/Re-purposing of Youth Room/Cafeteria/Hagenbach Rooms – 84% (Essential 18%; Important 41%; Somewhat Important 25%)
- Fellowship/Social/Welcome Center – 75% (Essential 26%; Important 29%; Somewhat Important 20%)
- Growth of Community Outreach – 95% (Essential 47%; Important 35%; Somewhat Important 13%)
The parish has clearly articulated the need of the parish to grow as a community that can accommodate many ministries and activities, and the need to provide welcoming space to achieve these goals. In addition to understanding the best use of our current space, the survey results also gave us a clear sense of our financial capability for this project.
The clear majority of parishioners who responded to the survey, 70%, indicated they were in support of a financial goal between $1.3 and $2.9 million for a capital campaign. To this end, after conducting all the necessary research, the Finance and Pastoral Councils must prayerfully reflect on a goal in this range that is simultaneously attainable and will be sufficient to complete the desired projects.
In response to the positive feedback to the feasibility study, it seems fitting that we begin a capital campaign before the end of the 2015 calendar year. We will initially pursue all the necessary approvals from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and I will inform you of our progress towards this end as it unfolds. In addition, you will be receiving more information in the coming months about our goal and about your essential participation.
As I reflect on these priorities and financial goal, I ask that you join me in preparing our hearts and minds for this commitment to our parish. We must begin this campaign with prayerful anticipation for the good things the Lord will make happen here at St. Monica’s Church.
[i] The seemingly low number for Religious Education was attributable to 36% who gave “No Response” or “No Opinion.” It was felt that a significant number of parishioners answered this way either because their children attend Catholic schools or they do not have any children in religious ed.
[ii] This score was provided previous to hiring of new Family/Youth Director and provides a valuable “baseline” score to evaluate our Family/Youth Ministry programs in the future.
[iii] Certainly an area for growth.