By Jim Wogan
The Home Campaign, a diocesan effort to build and strengthen the Catholic Church in East Tennessee, has been recognized nationally for its success.
The International Catholic Stewardship Conference presented the Diocese of Knoxville its 2016 Award for Excellence in a Capital Campaign at its annual conference in New Orleans in November. The award was presented to John Deinhart, director of stewardship and strategic planning for the diocese. ICSC includes more than 800 dioceses and archdioceses, parish communities, and other professional firms around the world.
To mark the success of the campaign, Bishop Richard F. Stika declared Dec. 17-18 as a “Weekend of Grace and Gratitude” for all parishes and mission churches for their “historic response” to the recent Home Campaign, which raised nearly $45 million for parish and diocesan initiatives.
“I knew this would be a tremendous challenge. I also knew that together we’d be successful if we simply put our trust in God, offering our prayer, and our time, and our generous hearts to Him,” Bishop Stika said.
The Home Campaign started in late 2014 with four pilot parishes, All Saints Church, Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. John Neumann Church, and the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul leading the way. Over the next two and a half years, the rest of the diocese’s parishes and mission churches joined the campaign.
“You know, volunteers stepped forward in every parish. Over 800 of them volunteered across 51 churches and missions, working together, organizing meetings, discussing initiatives and helping call fellow parishioners to ask for their participation. It is a true demonstration of what is possible when we work together,” Bishop Stika added.
The Home Campaign focused on five goals to grow and strengthen the Catholic Church in East Tennessee: parish projects and initiatives, expanding charity, priest retirement support, Catholic education support, and the building of a new cathedral.
Bishop Stika extolled the efforts of parishioners and the financial support from more than 8,500 families that made a pledge to the campaign.
The campaign also has received praise from a company that helped coordinate the effort, and the Diocese of Knoxville will be used as an example for other Catholic dioceses around the country.
“The Home Campaign has been the most successful diocesan campaign we’ve been a part of,” said Nic Prenger, president of the Steier Group, a national capital campaign fundraising firm based in Omaha, Neb. “This campaign was a runaway success. We’ve already gotten a lot of questions about what happened here in Knoxville…how the diocese was able to do this and pull off a wildly successful campaign.”
Among its achievements, the diocese’s Home Campaign outperformed other larger U.S. dioceses in similar capital campaign efforts, one-half of all parishes in the Diocese of Knoxville surpassed their campaign goal, and diocesan parishioners doubled the average giving of other national diocesan campaigns. ■