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Living Our Mission campaign touches Ascension, Virginia Beach, in a special way

Because of the faithful diligence of pastors, lay leaders, parish staff, and the campaign team, the Living Our Mission Campaign has been a great success. Through the campaign, which began in January 2014, many parishes are funding ministry expansions or long-awaited building projects, such as St. Bede, Willimasburg; St. Olaf, Norge; and St. Catherine of Siena, Clarksville. The Diocese will use its share of the funds raised to ensure that it can take care of retired priests, educate seminarians, and provide funding for the New Evangelization, to name just a few areas of impact.

In many cases, pastors, parish staff, and lay leaders have reported that the Living Our Mission Campaign has had a positive pastoral effect on their parish. Parishioners at Church of the Ascension in Virginia Beach wanted to share what it has meant to their parish life. The campaign journey is in some ways typical, in which the idea was met with a bit of skepticism from some but ultimately embraced by the majority. The level of enthusiasm, however, at Ascension has been something to behold.

graphs: living our  mission progress to date

As campaign committee member Tom Steffens told us, When the team from the Diocese first came to pitch the Capital Campaign, I know I sat there with my arms and legs crossed. I was definitely not in the receive mode. But by the time they finished, I realized that what Pope Francis had written about Global Solidarity didn’t just mean Asia or South America or Africa, he meant that it starts right here in Virginia. Today, after four months of our Campaign, I truly believe the Spirit stopped by and said: Tom, Wake up!  Vocations, Retired Priests, Health Care for Clergy, Schools, Campus Ministry, Social Justice Programs, and of course, 145 parishes. 145! Who knew? They all touch my life every day.

Fr. Daniel Malingumu set the tone on the parish website, As a Parish Family, we join the Psalmist to ponder in our hearts, what return we can make to the Lord (Psalm 116:12). The Living Our Mission Campaign is now here in our home, Church of the Ascension, and we are all called to cherish and embrace it. This is the time for us to strengthen and deepen our faith commitments, and enhance our relationship with the Universal Church. What a wonderful privilege this campaign offers us, allowing us to share what we have for the well-being of the Church. People don’t need to ask for proof of what we are doing, it is easily seen by the way we promote social justice, help to alleviate suffering, serve others and foster hope!

Fellow Ascension parishioner and campaign co-chair Jim Fowler shared his thoughts as well. Our Living Our Mission journey has not just been about raising money. For me it has been about meeting so many members of our Ascension family. Being present at multiple Masses on weekends has provided an opportunity to meet and get to know many new families. So many special interactions have occurred just about every weekend. Hopefully people have had an opportunity to see the face of Christ in each other as we join to build our Church of the Ascension family up to meet the future that Pope Francis has called us to. The campaign has been an exciting opportunity to tell each other the story of our faith journey.

Mr. Fowler continued, The look on people’s faces as we began the journey questioned our goal of $1.8M. As they look today and realize we are very much within striking distance to meet and exceed the goal, they begin to understand the real power of community and the generous spirit of Ascension.

As Adm. Steffens reflected, We saw giving at some very high levels and some very low levels. Each according to their means. One wonderful lady came up one day and gave us $7.00. It was all she had, but she knew the church needed it. Gulp!

Adm. Steffens also pointed out that all 77 ministries at Ascension were engaged. In addition, the parish has seen a jump in new parishioner registrations.

Campaign Committee Member Carmen Bojo sums it up by saying, At first, people were intimidated by the goal but by praying together we all gave what we could and were very proud to see that we made a difference. I especially enjoyed talking with people who had not previously registered with the parish who are experiencing Living Our Mission as the first time they really bought into the life of this amazing parish.

The Catholic Virginian, 23 November 2015, Volume 91 Number 2

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