April 3, 2012
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Landmark parish using campaign to change lives for decades to come

A Royal Oak parish with a storied history, two schools and more than 4,000 registered households is using Changing Lives Together to continue a strategic plan developed for its parish community.   Founded in 1925, the National Shrine of the Little Flower was among the first parishes participating in Changing Lives Together, launching its campaign a year ago and recently surpassing its archdiocesan target of $1.8 million in pledges.

Tom and Marcia Cardelli

The Shrine’s Changing Lives Together chairs Marcia and Tom Cardelli with Archbishop Vigneron at a campaign event.

The Shrine’s leadership team is using the campaign to retire a $4.2 million bond debt and follow a master plan developed for the parish and its two schools – Shrine Catholic Grade School and Shrine Catholic High School and Academy. “We wanted to continue building upon the strategic plan we started in 1996 and decided to set our Changing Lives Together parish goal at $5 million,” explained Matthew York, Director of Development at the Shrine. Changing Lives Together has already helped the Shrine to pay down its bond debt by $210,000. The bond was issued in 2008 through the Oakland County Economic Development Corporation to finance facility improvements at the Shrine’s schools. “Paying down the bond debt on those improvements will make it possible to address the other projects in our master plan,” said York.

The Shrine is monitoring its parish and school strategic plan priorities to ensure they support collaborations with neighboring parishes through the Together in Faith pastoral planning process. “The parishes identified as possible collaboration partners – Guardian Angels in Clawson and St. Mary in Royal Oak – have started their Changing Lives Together campaigns, so this is a great opportunity to be on the same page and shepherd the resources our parishioners provide,” said Monsignor William Easton, pastor of the Shrine and Vicar of the South Oakland Vicariate. “Changing Lives Together is helping to unify the Shrine parish community. We’ve gotten away from the perceived separation that churches and schools operate in and of themselves and closer to understanding we’re stronger together and can accomplish more as one community,” observed York.

The next phase of donor outreach for the Shrine is expanding beyond the parish and becoming more inclusive of the Shrine schools as well as school alumni and area businesses. “The Shrine is recognized as a vital and active neighbor as well as a foundation in our community, and we’re making sure our friends and neighbors understand we need their support to continue to grow and thrive,” said York. “Now that we have exceeded archdiocesan expectations for our campaign and will keep one hundred percent of all contributions from this point on, we also know some parishioners will make additional gifts, which is very encouraging,” he added.

The most rewarding and gratifying part of the ongoing Shrine campaign are small but sincere gifts. “We’ve received very touching notes from folks hit hard by the recession,” York recalled. “Many have said, ‘This is all I can give right now, but I believe in the parish, the campaign, and this is what I want to do,’” he said. “They believe in their faith, they believe in their community and they want to make their community stronger.”

Updated April 2012


Changing Lives Together is a series of parish campaigns to generate resources to fulfill parish-developed plans and priorities. Learn more about the initiative in your parish.