October 28, 2012
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Pastoral leadership, involvement of lay couples at Beverly Hills parish result in campaign success

CLT Co-Chairs

Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Changing Lives Together co-chairs Catherine and Bernie Ronnisch (right) and Sharon and Mike Montemurri (left).

Archdiocesan leaders thought it was feasible for parishioners at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Beverly Hills to raise nearly $1 million through their Changing Lives Together campaign. Father Scott Thibodeau and his team of parishioner volunteers felt they could generate even more funds to accomplish several parish priorities. After just over a month of active fundraising, they surpassed their campaign pledge goal of $1.5 million. A few months later, the large parish parking lot – wrapping around the church and school – was completely torn up and replaced.

More than 600 registered households in the south Oakland County parish participated in the campaign, which Father Thibodeau organized by recruiting married couples of various ages and backgrounds to form their campaign leadership team.

Parking Lot Under Construction

The old parking lot at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Beverly Hills became history when school finished for the summer.

“We had approximately 50 volunteers on our leadership team, from stay-at-home moms and CEOs to financial advisors and businesspeople,” said Catherine Ronnisch, who serves as a campaign co-chair with her husband Bernie. “Father Scott emphasized getting married couples involved, including those new to the parish with kids in the school and those whose children are in high school, college, and beyond,” she explained. “We had a great mix of volunteers and abilities.” Ronnisch, a lifelong parishioner, is one of nine children in her family that attended the parish school.

Finished Parking Lot image 1

Changing Lives Together resulted in a new parking lot for the parish school and church.


Our Lady Queen of Martyrs celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2011, and its campaign centered on preserving and restoring parish facilities. An extensive list of improvements includes replacing the church and school parking lot, improving drainage and sidewalks, replacing the school windows and gym roof, renovating and updating the church sanctuary, flooring, and sound system, as well as technology enhancements in the school. “Refreshing our campus buildings is simply overdue and timing the campaign with our parish anniversary worked out well,” said Ronnisch.

Finished Parking Lot image 2

The new lot has improved the parish appearance as well as the safety and convenience of parishioners.

“We had a lot of support from the parish staff and Father Scott did an awesome job putting Changing Lives Together into perspective for the whole parish,” recalled Sharon Montemurri, a Eucharistic minister who also served with her husband, Mike, as campaign co-chairs. “Father Scott spoke at nearly every Mass about what we were doing, our priorities, and why the campaign was important for everyone in the parish,” she added. The Montemurri’s, twenty-year parishioners, also sent their children to the parish school.

Parishioners witnessed their pledges at work when the old parking lot was removed soon after school finished for the summer. The next project, replacing the gymnasium roof, will begin in spring 2013. “We’re being practical with the things we need to do,” said Montemurri. “We want to keep what we have in good shape for the next generations of families at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs.”

CLT Display

Changing Lives Together visibility was an important part of the successful parish campaign.

Ronnisch and Montemurri credit Father Thibodeau with energizing the parish and school during his three-year tenure as pastor. “He relates with parishioners of all ages, and he’s very faithful and reverent,” they said. “He’s earned a lot of respect from the community and our Mass attendance has gone up,” Ronnisch added. “We have a great parish community that has become closer through this experience” Montemurri concluded.

Updated November 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.