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Do More Good | Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Community

With every New Year comes the opportunity for us to turn inward and become both reflective and introspective. We may find ourselves feeling the joy that accompanies the great milestones we achieved, perhaps starting a new job or celebrating the birth of a child, or bringing home a new puppy. Other times, we may feel the despair that accompanies times of great loss such as the heartache we feel with the passing of a beloved family member or friend. During these times of celebration, of change, and of loss, we—as people—seek the comfort and solace of community. As human beings, it is part of our nature to seek the kind of connection that being part of a community can bring. That is exactly what you will find when you set-foot into the Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Community.

For many people defending Catholic ethics seems challenging, especially during these times, but when you see how enthusiastic the parishioners of Corpus Christi are about the Re-Igniting Our Faith Campaign it’s difficult not to feel inspired and hopeful for future generations of Catholics. “We have become much too secular and self-absorbed in our society today; and we need to return to our spiritual center. The Re-Igniting our Faith Campaign offers us a way to do that through its emphases on a healthy prayer life, service to others, social justice, and support to our retired priests and religious. This is why the campaign is vital to reinvigorating our faith communities throughout the Diocese of Albany.”—William Trigg III, committee member.

Originally founded in 1946, the first Mass at Corpus Christi was celebrated in a two-story farm house.  Over 70 years have passed since then and the landscape has changed drastically. Local farms gave way to new homes and Corpus Christi was there to provide new residents with a welcoming and spiritual home.

By 2004, the church was busting at the seams and a new church needed to be constructed to minister to the needs of nearly 1,800 families. As the church grew, the number of families grew as did the number of ministries; but, there was a problem. A big problem. When the new church was constructed it was designed inadequately. Building a church of Southwest design in Upstate New York was a bad idea and the church was simply unable to sustain the brutal winters of the Northeast; then, came poor craftsmanship and the use of shoddy building materials. As a result, every time it rained the roof leaked and water would drip down the inside walls of the church. One time, the windows fell out of their casings and came crashing down into to the sacristy. Luckily, no one was injured. Ed, a maintenance technician had to climb up on the roof often and hammer down nails just to keep it quasi-functioning.

Developing a case for support for their five-year capital campaign was challenging for several reasons. First, Father Rick is a relatively new to the priesthood. Second, he did not want to have to come back, post-campaign, asking parishioners for money to fix the leaking roof. Third, the contractors, architects and builders had “done a runner” and a legal case was pending. The decision was made to incorporate a contingency clause in the case for support—informing folks that, while the settlement from the pending court case may cover the costs of the new roof, a portion of the funds raised from the campaign might be needed to repair or replace the existing roof at the parish. Father Rick wanted to be very transparent about how the funds raised from this campaign would be spent and spoke extensively about the pending litigation.

It didn’t take long for a dedicated group of parishioners to emerge, under the leadership of Father Rick, and form a solid campaign committee. Leadership took on many forms. Some folks helped by hosting dinner receptions in their homes, sending out invitations and other mailings, organizing receptions at the parish, creating graphic images for the web, speaking at Mass, meeting with other parishioners and asking for them to support the campaign, making a video, managing paperwork, sending “thank you” notes, contributing a gift and more. Folks here sacrificed their time, talent and treasure.

When Father Rick first started to visit with major donors they asked him, “Are you here to ask me for money?” He replied openly, “Yes.” They said “So, because I’ve been so generous in the past, you want me to contribute even more?” To which, Father replied “You have supported our parish with your generosity so much in the past, and I thank you so much for your support; but, there is so much more work we would like to do here. I would like to ask you to consider supporting some of these things but first and foremost, you need to be a good steward of your financial resources. Only you know what is right for you. Talk to your kids, your spouse, whoever you need to first before you decide. I ask you to pray about this and if you cannot contribute at this time, that’s okay too. I still love you.”

When it came time to launch the general phase of the campaign, Father Rick had already met his parish campaign goal of raising $737,493. So, what did he decide to do? He decided to raise the campaign goal. He spoke to parishioners and encouraged all of them, as members of the Corpus Christi community, to participate in the campaign by making a gift of $2 per week (the cost of giving up a cup of coffee) over the next five years. Stating that it wasn’t fair for a small group of parishioners to carry the load for the entire parish, participation was thought of as a matter of justice.

Through prayer, faith, generosity, hope and stewardship, the parishioners of Corpus Christi have raised more than $1 million, funding an after-school program for children, expanded social justice programs to help the poor and vulnerable, a parish nursing program, programs to care for the sick, upgrades to technology, and youth ministry and faith-formation programs to propagate faith and virtues.

“Building on Bishop Ed’s call to have us consider the campaign to be about evangelization as that fits into each parish community, Corpus Christi has engaged wholeheartedly in a program of welcoming people in so that they may know the love of Christ in their life. I am humbled by how participatory people have been in helping to identify ways that we may continue to serve our local area and beyond.” Click here to see what parishioners have to say.

Corpus Christi is doing more good in the world by serving and the most vulnerable people, the oppressed, the forgotten, the sick, as well as families and children in their community. John Forte, Chairman of the committee, spoke about the impact that their parish could make: “If each family could have an impact on just 5 people through their gift and those people had an impact on 5 more and so on, going forward, in 4 generations, we would have had the ability to change the lives of over 4.5 million individuals.”

The folks at Corpus Christi are changing the way the world works by being a spark. A single spark which ignites the flame of love and compassion that is so desperately needed in today’s world.

 


About Diana Curran

Diana Curran brings ten years of experience as an administrative and development professional in the nonprofit and higher-education sectors to her to her position at Changing Our World. Diana is presently working with the Diocese of Albany as a director for […]