FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
This page will be updated regularly as new FAQ's are published in parish bulletins.
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DID YOU KNOW...
The Diocese and its Vision/Mission/Goals
What is the Diocese of Hamilton?
The Diocese is an area of southwestern Ontario and a collection of 118 parishes and 28 mission churches with 160 active priests. The Diocese aims to shepherd, support and serve Catholics in those parishes and this region.
Why does the Diocese need a campaign? Isn’t it already financially sound?
Yes, the Diocese is financially sound, and that stability is allowing the Diocese to conduct a campaign that focuses on the needs of parishes, while also enhancing some diocesan ministries. The campaign is part of the long-term vision for the Diocese, a vision of a thriving Diocese supporting thriving parishes working to draw more people closer to Christ. The campaign has the potential to renew struggling parishes and to make strong parishes stronger.
What are the Diocese’s specific goals for the portion of funds it receives?
Fifteen percent of the funds raised will go toward shared diocesan ministries. These include campus ministry to college and university students as well as several ministries focused on those in need: hospital ministry, prison ministry and ministry to migrant workers.
What are the potential benefits of the campaign’s focus on campus ministry?
We know that many Catholic young people who go away to college and university are going to Mass less when they graduate. We want to help college and university students form networks and communities that help them to be comfortable living out their faith. In short, the Diocese wants to support Catholic students during a tough time in their lives. Campaign funds will be allocated toward staff and program costs for chaplaincy programs associated with post-secondary institutions within the Diocese.
How would the hospital ministry goal be beneficial?
Why the focus on prison ministry and help for migrant workers?
These goals aim to help raise the consciousness of the Diocese at large to these populations and their needs. The church is theirs, too, and the church needs to be there for them for the same reason it ministers to all of us. The prison ministry program would include training of deacons and lay volunteers to help them share the healing and compassion of Jesus with those confined in correctional institutions. For migrant workers, the Diocese is committed to ensuring their spiritual and material care for the time they spend in our Diocese providing labour in the industries in which they work.
Would it benefit the clergy as well, since they do much of that work now?
Yes, with the addition of full-time chaplains, parish pastors will be relieved of many of their hospital ministry commitments.
What is a capital campaign?
A capital campaign is an effort to raise money in a fairly short time (three to five years) to pay for a significant project or build up an endowment or heritage fund for future use. For a Catholic diocese or parish, this refers to gifts and pledges over and above a parishioner’s regular giving to the Sunday collection. Parishioners who make pledges to the Diocese of Hamilton’s campaign will have three years to fulfill their commitment.
Who will be asked to give?
Over the course of the campaign, every household in every parish in the Diocese will be asked to make a sacrificial gift.
When will the campaign take place?
After a three-month planning study in spring and summer 2018, campaign preparations began in August 2018. The active campaign is taking place in four “waves,” beginning with a pilot wave that began in February 2019. The campaign will conclude when the last wave finishes in early 2021.
What are the parishes’ responsibilities in the campaign?
Every parish will first assess its needs and determine the projects to which the funds raised for the parish will be directed. Each pastor will appoint key volunteers who will work with the Diocese and the Steier Group to form a campaign team. That parish team will help with campaign events and do personal follow-up to other parishioners to solicit gifts. Priests also will be asked to help with solicitations of some prospective donors.
How will the funds that are raised be split up?
This is a parish-focused campaign, and 75 percent of the funds raised by each parish will stay with that parish for the goals and projects of its choosing. An additional 10 percent will be directed toward assisting parishes most in need of support. The remaining 15 percent will be dedicated to shared diocesan ministries.
Where will donors send their gifts, and where will the money be kept?
Donors’ gifts and pledges will be held in trust for the parish and initially kept in a dedicated diocesan account. The Diocese will disburse the parishes’ funds to them after the payments have been received and the parish is ready to undertake their projects. The campaign’s Clergy Committee has worked with the Diocese to outline when the funds will be distributed to the parishes.
Why can’t I just support my parish directly?
Why did the Diocese choose the Steier Group as a consultant for this campaign?
The Diocese of Hamilton searched for a firm that best fit the Diocese’s needs and interviewed some of the leading Catholic fundraising companies in North America. At present, there are no Canadian fundraising firms who have experience running diocesan campaigns of such a scale. The Steier Group’s tremendous experience with Catholic diocesan and parish campaigns, the quality of their on-site campaign managers, and – perhaps most of all – their love of the Church and commitment to living and encouraging Christian stewardship played big roles in the decision.
How will the Parishes benefit from the campaign?
What types of projects could the Parishes choose for the use of campaign funds?
Overall, the parish projects should aim to bring vitality to the parish, promote participation in parish life, and evangelize and serve the faithful and the surrounding community. Some obvious options include building projects, renovations of existing buildings, overdue maintenance needs, debt reduction or the building up of a contingency fund. Other options might take more of a direct ministry approach, such as adding an employee to develop a new ministry or providing materials for an existing ministry.
What if we don’t need a campaign at our Parish?
The success of the overall diocesan campaign relies on the participation of every parish community. Although some parishes may not have a glaring “need” to be dealt with, they’re encouraged to dream and plan for how they could assist more people on their faith journey. Parishes that may not have needs now will almost certainly face needs in the future – which is why some parishes are considering using their campaign funds to create an endowment. The COVID-19 pandemic is a good example of an unexpected situation that creates a need where one previously wouldn’t even have been imagined. Also, a parish with fewer needs would be welcome to direct some of its funds to other diocesan parishes in greater need.
What if we’re in the middle of a fundraising effort already?
The Diocesan campaign will happen in “waves” of Parishes, so a Parish finishing up a project now could be placed in the final wave of the Diocesan campaign, which will take place in late 2020 and early 2021. The campaign’s clergy committee also could take that into account when fundraising goals are set for Parishes.
Who will actually conduct the campaign at each Parish?
The Diocese, with the help of the Steier Group, will manage the overall campaign effort, including the preparation of materials. At each parish, the pastor will identify campaign leaders who will work with the Steier Group. Those parish leaders will help recruit other volunteers to form a campaign team that will conduct the personal visits and other elements that are the key to the success of the campaign.
How much help with the campaign can our Parish expect to get from the Diocese and the consulting firm?
The Diocese will pay the financial costs of the campaign. Parishes will not be responsible for any campaign expenses such as postage, printing or diocesan events held at the parish. If a parish hosts an event to promote the campaign to its parishioners, the parish will bear those costs. In addition, several Steier Group campaign managers will guide the parishes through the campaign process. The parish will be responsible for forming a team of volunteers that implements the necessary elements of the process.
How long will this take?
On a diocesan level, the entire campaign will run through early 2021. On a parish level, there will be four campaign “waves.” A parish’s particular wave will run for six to seven months. That includes preparation, solicitation and follow-up phases. The active solicitation period will last three to four months.
What happens if our Parish doesn’t hit its financial goal?
A clergy committee will implement policies that all parishes will follow on such questions. There will be incentives for parishes to reach their goals. Parishes not reaching their goals face the prospect of not being able to complete needed projects.
How are funds spent if our parish raises more than what I necessary for our projects?
Some parishes have specified in their parish plans where any excess funds would be spent in the event a parish raises more than their project costs. Otherwise, all funds raised in excess of the requirements for listed parish projects will be used for ministry or capital costs as determined by the pastor and approved by the bishop.
More about The Diocese
What kinds of things does the Diocese do for parishes and others already?
Advocating for the dignity of all life and supporting and promoting marriage and family life.
Encouraging vocational discernment to priesthood and religious life.
Programming and support for youth and young adult ministry.
Adult faith formation, catechesis, religious education and sacramental preparation.
Assistance in the relocation and resettlement of refugees.
Advocacy on behalf of the poor and marginalized.
Assistance for parishes in all aspects of sacred worship, including formation for liturgical ministers.
Support for parishes in the areas of human resources, building maintenance, financial reporting, stewardship, charitable giving and parish development.
Does the Diocese help organizations outside of it?
Yes, the Diocese is generous to many in need. For example, the Diocese has an ongoing financial commitment to help the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which is still suffering from the effects of the devastating earthquake there in 2010, and the Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay, which includes northern Manitoba and the territory of Nunavut. The Diocese also supports many worthy causes within and outside of the Diocese, such as: organizations that support the poor and marginalized – like St. Vincent de Paul, the Good Shepherd and several others; health care initiatives including hospice care and conscience protection for those in the medical field; community organizations such as the Catholic Youth Organization, Catholic Family Services and Catholic Children’s Aid; and several other organizations and causes in need that do the work of the gospel. Additionally, the Diocese is proud to have made a significant gift to St. Peter’s Seminary in London, helping to ensure the seminary can continue its mission to form priests for our Diocese and the Church in Canada.
Why a significant gift to a seminary in another diocese?
There is a longstanding and fruitful connection between St. Peter’s Seminary in London and the Diocese of Hamilton. For more than a hundred years, St. Peter’s has trained a majority of our diocesan priests – and those of so many Canadian dioceses. Of the current Hamilton seminarians, the majority are at St. Peter’s, which is one of only three English-speaking seminaries in Canada. Hamilton priests have also served on the seminary’s staff. The seminary is in need – these funds were required for St. Peter’s to continue its mission of forming priests, deacons and lay ministers -- and its vitality is important to the long-term outlook for future vocations in Hamilton.
What is the Ex Corde Foundation and how does it work?
The Ex Corde Foundation was established in 2011 with a gift of $21.5 million from the Diocese of Hamilton and provides financial assistance to parishes and other Catholic charities within the Diocese and across Canada. Ex Corde, which means “From the Heart,” is operated by a board of directors and provides grants to repair or renovate buildings; to provide and maintain religious artifacts and works of art; and to support religious education and catechesis. As of September 2018, the foundation had donated $5.1 million, 90 percent of which has gone to parishes or other Catholic organizations within the Diocese. The grant amounts vary widely but commonly have been in the range of $15,000 to $25,000. The remaining 10 percent has gone to Catholic parishes, dioceses or other organizations from outside the Diocese of Hamilton. The foundation board selects recipients twice a year from grant applications. For a list of all the grants awarded, see the link on the Ex Corde website, www.excordefoundation.com.
What is the state of diocesan finances? Is this a desperate situation that requires a campaign?
The diocesan financial picture is strong. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount of assets had grown in recent years and investments were doing well. The pandemic has presented challenges to the Diocese and to parishes, but as the world reaches the other side of the crisis, it appears that the Diocese is well-positioned to remain in a strong position. With offertory numbers down because of the closure of churches due to the virus, a number of parishes with strong savings joined with the Diocese in creating a fund to help the parishes in most need. The One Heart, One Soul Campaign also will give many parishes the opportunity to immediately tackle funding shortfalls. In general, the Diocese is generous with grants and loans to parishes and Catholic organizations within the Diocese. Parish assessments have been stable in recent years but have not kept up with increases in diocesan operating costs. Property sales have been used more frequently to keep the Diocese’s operating budget balanced and strong, and many assets (such as the Care and Maintenance Fund for Cemeteries) are restricted and not at the Diocese’s disposal. Overall, the campaign is a way to ensure that more parishes will be able to be self-sufficient over the long term, building up themselves and the Diocese at the same time.
I’ve heard the Diocese has a lot of assets. Can’t those be used?
At the end of 2017, the Diocese reported assets of $322 million. However, the majority of the assets are restricted assets, such as the Care and Maintenance Fund for Cemeteries, money legally reserved for the maintenance of cemetery operations and funds held for pre-arranged funeral services and burials. Unrestricted assets are less than a third of the total capital. Of these unrestricted assets, more than 90 percent is used to generate investment income that – when combined with parish assessments – pays for annual diocesan operations (68 percent) and make funds available for grants and loans to help parishes and organizations within and outside the Diocese (32 percent).
Is there any chance that funds would be used to settle potential claims of abuse of children by clergy?
The tragic stories recently in the news, thankfully, do not reflect the circumstances and history of our diocese. However, it should still be noted that funds raised during the campaign will be held in a segregated account, in trust for the parishes and ministries for which they were raised. Both civil and canon law require the diocese to use the gifts we receive for the stated purposes for which they were given – an obligation to which we are fully committed. Regarding how the Diocese handles abuse allegations, Bishop Crosby said in an August 2018 letter to all in the Diocese: “All allegations of sexual misconduct have been and will continue to be taken seriously and addressed immediately in accordance with our diocesan policy.” For a link to the full letter, see our diocesan website, hamiltondiocese.com.
What kind of financial transparency can we expect during the campaign and beyond?
Transparency is a top priority for the Diocese. Summaries of diocesan financial reports from 2012 through 2018 are on the diocesan website, and copies of the full reports are available from the Diocese’s financial office. Regular updates of campaign goals, projects and fundraising will be communicated during the campaign through a number of avenues – the website, emails, social media, to name a few.
Are parishes in a position to take on needed projects?
This, of course, varies from parish to parish, but in general most parishes are not in a strong position to take on major projects (those of $250,000 or more), and many projects have been delayed because of a lack of funding. Initially, one of the main reasons for the diocesan capital campaign was to assist parishes big and small to gain more solid footing for the future – whether that’s by completing an overdue project, retiring debt, building a contingency fund or looking ahead with a new ministry or new staff. In the wake of COVID-19, parishes in the later waves of the campaign may need to use funds primarily to balance their operating budget.
What about parish debt and parish reserves – in general, where do things stand?
The majority of the Diocese’s parishes can meet their operating budget and can take on small capital projects. Only a few, however, have substantial savings, and those parishes tapped into their accounts to help create the diocesan fund being used to aid parishes in need because of the impact of the virus. Some parishes have incurred debt, and the Diocese assists where it can with donations and loans, some of which are interest-free, to parishes.
The Abuse Crisis
Is there any chance that funds would be used to settle potential claims of abuse of children by clergy?
The tragic stories in the news in recent years, thankfully, do not reflect the circumstances and history of our diocese. However, it should still be noted that funds raised during the campaign will be held in a segregated account, in trust for the parishes and ministries for which they were raised. Both civil and canon law require the diocese to use the gifts we receive for the stated purposes for which they were given – an obligation to which we are fully committed. Regarding how the Diocese handles abuse allegations, Bishop Crosby said in an August 2018 letter to all in the Diocese: “All allegations of sexual misconduct have been and will continue to be taken seriously and addressed immediately in accordance with our diocesan policy.” For a link to the full letter, see our diocesan website, hamiltondiocese.com.
Campaign Nuts and Bolts
Will we get reminders about our pledges during the three years of the campaign?
Yes, regular giving updates and reminders will be sent through the Diocese.
Can I give online?
Yes! Stay tuned for specifics on how to make your gift or pledge online as the campaign reaches your parish.
Are cash pledges the only kind of gifts?
Because many of the needs of the campaign will require immediate funding, gifts of cash and appreciated securities are generally sought. But trust and estate gifts are welcomed. Donors considering a planned gift should contact the diocesan development director, Francis Doyle, at 905-528-7988 to discuss the options available.
Does a campaign commitment result in tax benefits?
Gifts to the campaign are eligible for charitable tax credits that can significantly reduce the amount of tax you pay. The specific tax credit received is based on the amount of your gift and your taxable income. Donors with specific questions regarding tax benefits should contact their attorney or financial adviser.
Why do you emphasize making a pledge?
Pledges allow donors to consider giving more than is possible through one-time gifts. Parishioners are able to be more generous to their parishes’ campaign and the Diocese through incremental giving over time. Also, pledging is not as big a strain on household budgets. This is important in a campaign of this magnitude.
How can I make a gift or pledge to the campaign?
Setting up a pre-authorized gift (automatic withdrawal) from a chequing account.
Setting up a recurring credit card payment.
Paying by cash or cheque through the mail.
Making a stock or securities transfer.
How do you determine the pledge amounts that families are asked to consider?
Ask amounts are based on a number of factors: planning study results, families’ history of parish support, input from church leadership, and the understanding that for this to be successful it will require sacrificial gifts. In other words, if the amount you are asked for is more than you anticipated, it generally means that you have been a generous supporter of your parish and/or the Diocese and is an indication of the challenge we face in reaching our goal. Through this campaign, we are asking everyone to consider supporting their parish and the Diocese in a meaningful and sacrificial way and in a manner that works well for each family. It is not our intention to offend or embarrass anyone. The amount requested is NOT an expectation. It is an invitation to participate in this project at whatever level that is sacrificial and meaningful to you and your family. We will be grateful for any support you offer.
Why are we still doing the campaign? With the virus, shouldn’t we be focused on other priorities?
From the beginning, this campaign has been primarily about strengthening our parishes. Because of the pandemic, our parishes have even greater needs than when we started. Because the campaign is in place, we are in a better position than almost any diocese in North America to help our parishes recover from the blows suffered from COVID-19. The campaign offers parishes the opportunity to better fulfill their missions. There is no greater priority than that.
How can we ask for money from people who lost their job or are otherwise hurting financially because of the virus?
We certainly are very sensitive to the struggles parishioners are facing, whether related to the virus or not. That’s why we work with pastors and leaders at parishes to set and review request amounts. That process will be even more important throughout the rest of the campaign. It is not foolproof, though. Pastors do not know every parishioner’s situation. But there is never an intention to be insensitive to a parishioner’s suffering. Meanwhile, some parishioners are in a position to give now, and they want to help. The campaign gives them the opportunity to help and the confidence of knowing how the money will be used. Be assured that only those who are able to give are expected to do so, and ultimately the decision is between the donor and the Lord.
Won’t giving now make it harder for a lot of parishioners?
The campaign is founded on stewardship, our belief that we give back in gratitude a portion of what we’ve been given by God. Stewardship isn’t just for the good times in life, when we can give easily; it’s for all times, including the bad. We may adjust how much we give, or to whom we give, but we continue to give – in gratitude for and in proportion to what we’ve been given. A truly sacrificial gift demonstrates our trust that God will provide what we need, though not necessarily what we want. Stewardship isn’t what KEEPS us from getting through the tough parts of life; it’s what HELPS us get through them.
What changes are being made to the campaign process because of the current situation?
The options for parish projects that utilize campaign funds are even wider now and can include efforts to stabilize operating budgets. Pastors and parish leaders are encouraged to further review request amounts and their use to be sensitive to parishioners’ changing situations. Also, options have been expanded on how and whether personal visits are conducted. Face-to-face meetings are an important piece of the campaign, but safety is paramount, and a number of alternatives will also be utilized so that every parishioner’s situation is handled safely, sensitively and appropriately.
Can our parish use the campaign funds to address operating budget problems?
Yes. This applies to all parishes in coming waves that designate the funds for that purpose. Parishes that have already completed the campaign can use their funds only for the projects for which the money was raised. Those parishes’ challenges are not being ignored, however. The Diocese has created a separate fund to help parishes with significant operating budget needs created because of the shutdown.
Given the concerns about safety, can we do the campaign all by mail?
The Diocese’s concerns about safety are among the reasons that the completion of Waves 2 and 3 was delayed for a lengthy period. As we resume, the flexibility built into the campaign processes will give pastors and parish leaders options for adjustments that will allow them to structure their campaigns in a way that promotes safety. This also takes into account that the campaign is not just about money. There is a significant, positive impact from the “personal” aspect of any parish project, including a campaign. We want the campaign’s goals to be effectively communicated, parishioners to have every opportunity to ask questions, volunteers to have a chance to express their support and, frankly, for parishioners to have the chance to simply talk with and get to know one another, albeit over the phone or from a safe distance if the virus remains any kind of threat. To be clear, any personal contact will be undertaken only with parishioners’ consent.
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