May 15, 2014

Oakland County parish retires debt, launches successful campaign

Father McEnhill and Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron

Father McEnhill and Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron with Our Lady of Refuge campaign co-chairs Phillip Mansour (left) and Michael Blanek (right). Father McEnhill and parish representatives joined the Archbishop for a Mass and reception at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in preparation for their campaign.
Photo: Changing Lives Together

Since launching their Changing Lives Together campaign in 2011, parishioners at Our Lady of Refuge have eliminated a $138,000 parish debt, funded the replacement of a 35 year-old parking lot, replaced windows in parish building, erected a new perimeter fence, and put nearly $100,000 into parish savings. They’re not finished. Another phase of energy-efficient window improvement is ahead and a Stephen’s Ministry peer-to-peer counseling program will be launched this year.

“Debt retirement was our first goal,” explained Rev. Gerald McEnhill, pastor at Our Lady of Refuge for nearly 10 years. “When we accomplished that, I announced it at the weekend Masses, and there was joy in the house.”  About 370 parish households have made pledges to the campaign. Father McEnhill has been diligent in publishing campaign updates in the parish bulletin and website.

Our Lady of Refuge Parish office

Drafty, decades-old single-pane windows on the first floor of the Our Lady of Refuge Parish office building were replaced last year. Funds through Changing Lives Together will replace the upper floor windows this year.
Photo: Our Lady of Refuge Parish

Volunteers will soon receive training to start a Stephen’s Ministry, an evangelization program that helps those in crisis to heal through prayer and the listening ears of fellow parishioners. “We wanted to have a spiritual and ministry element in our priorities,” recalled Father McEnhill. “We started a prayer ministry, which initially focused on the success of our efforts and has continued with prayer leaders and parishioners praying for multiple intentions.” Parishioners are encouraged to write prayer intentions on paper, which are collected, placed in a clear glass container, and periodically brought to the sanctuary in the offertory procession.Phillip Mansour, an Our Lady of Refuge parishioner since 1996, was recruited by Father McEnhill to co-chair the campaign. “I’m a lifelong Catholic and earn my living in the construction business,” said Mansour. “It was an easy decision for me to apply my professional knowledge to help build our faith through the parish. When we started the campaign in 2011, we were still in the recession. When you have faith, it can be a lot stronger in harder times than prosperous times. The faith of our parishioners, the clear goals, and Father’s commitment to transparency and openness made it work. We’re very grateful for the support of the many parishioners.”

A parish member since 1990, an architect by trade, and a parish finance council member, Mike Blanek was also enlisted by Father McEnhill as a co-chair. “It’s hard to say no to Father,” said Blanek. “His leadership and working with us to work on distinct initiatives, to communicate those priorities, and to produce results that everyone can see speaks to the commitment of everyone involved.” Blanek also contributed his architectural expertise to the building improvement projects as well. The campaign has been successful enough to possibly fund improvements to the kitchen in the parish social hall.

“It makes the parishioners very proud that they’re part of this and it was their generosity that’s making it happen,” said McEnhill. “The parishioners are as proud as their pastor. There is no doubt that Changing Lives Together has inspired our parish family. There’s a new spirit here – we have a new vitality in doing the work of the Lord.”

Updated: May 2014

 Our Lady of Refuge –
Orchard Lake

Pastor: Rev. Gerald McEnhill
Parish founded: 1941
Registered households: 1,167
Campaign launch: October 2011
Archdiocesan Goal: $660,371
Parish Goal: $700,000
Pledged: $975,966

Parish priorities:

  • Eliminate debt
  • Reconstruct parking lot
  • Replace windows
  • Establish a Stephen’s Outreach Ministry