March 13, 2012

Parishioners hit the phones to reconnect

Changing Lives Together has been described as an initiative that has a beginning, no end, and a fundraising campaign in the middle. More than a hundred parishes are now in that middle, engaging parishioners to pledge their time, talent, and treasure to help fulfill parish priorities. Parishioner-to-parishioner phone calls are proving to be a successful means of establishing “together” in the initiative.

St. Isidore

Changing Lives Together parish volunteers from St. Isidore met Archbishop Vigneron at a campaign kickoff event.

To reconnect with parishioners, many of whom have drifted from parish life, teams of parish volunteers make phone calls to every registered household in the parish as they begin their Changing Lives Together efforts.  The calls touch base with parishioners, familiarize them with them with what’s going on at their parish, welcome them to Mass, and ask if they need prayers.“The phone calls have really made a difference,” said Father Mike Hrydziuszko, pastor of St. Isidore Catholic Community in Macomb Township.  “Making individual, personal contact on a parishioner-to-parishioner basis – and not asking for money – has resulted in many warm and wonderful conversations,” explained Father Mike, who also chairs the Changing Lives Together Clergy Ownership Committee.  “Parishioners receiving the calls tend to share a little bit about themselves and what they have experienced in parish life. Even if they have complaints or issues, they know someone from the parish reached out, listened, and cares about their faith life,” he added.

St. Isidore was in the campaign’s pilot wave, and is approaching $900,000 in pledges. “Connecting and reconnecting with one another has been a wonderful experience.  It’s strengthening us as a parish community, which is what this campaign is all about,” concluded Father Mike.

Leadership Team at Ste. Anne

The Changing Lives Together parish leadership team at Ste. Anne de Detroit.

Father Tom Sepulveda, pastor at Ste. Anne de Detroit led by example, making nearly 40 phone calls to recruit lay leaders to get Changing Lives Together started at the oldest parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit. “Nobody said no,” he said. “It was surprising.” Several Ste. Anne parishioners volunteered to call their fellow parishioners, asking if they needed prayers and welcoming them to participate in sacramental and ministerial life at Ste. Anne’s.  The parish now has over $270,000 in pledges toward a $300,000 goal to repair the church roof.  “Starting Changing Lives Together has been tremendous,” said Father Tom. “It has really become a day-to-day part of life at Ste. Anne’s.”

“The phone calls seem to be making a difference everywhere,” observed Msgr. Anthony Tocco, pastor at St. Hugo of the Hills in Bloomfield Hills and chair of the Changing Lives Together Pastor Policy Committee.  “These calls were one of the best things we did to launch the initiative at St. Hugo’s,” he said. “We reached many people who were home bound, including a woman in her 90’s who was thrilled to hear from the parish and to learn she would soon be in the prayers of many,” explained Msgr. Tocco. Over 1,100 households at St. Hugo have pledged more than $3.2 million to the parish campaign.

St. Hugo

St. Hugo parish representatives joined the Archbishop at a campaign reception.

“The phone calls aren’t about money,” observed Msgr. Tocco. “We had more than 200 volunteers making calls to their fellow parishioners explaining what Changing Lives Together is about and to see how they’re doing,” he said. “If they’re coming to church regularly, we ask them to include Changing Lives in their prayers. If they have strayed from Mass, we welcome them back. If they have needs, we find out what they are and try to help,” continued Msgr. Tocco. “We plan another round of calls in the months ahead,” he concluded.

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.