Statement of Need

Preliminary Case Statement
Education/Catholic Charities
Endowment Campaign and Parish Sharing

Proposed Goal:  $56,000,000


The Diocese of Rockford is a community of Catholic believers in 11 northern Illinois counties comprised of seven deaneries. Established in 1908, our 105 parishes, two missions and one oratory are blessed with great cultural and ethnic diversity and represent a wide range of social and economic backgrounds. More than 9,000 children are enrolled in the diocese’s 40 grade schools, 3,889 enrolled in our eight high schools (six diocesan, two private), and more than 42,000 are enrolled in parish religious education programs.

Since the earliest days of the Church, the faithful have worked courageously and generously to pass on the gift of faith to the next generation. Our forefathers and mothers sacrificed to give us the parishes we call home, the schools and religious education programs that have nurtured us, and the diocesan ministries and social services that have touched so many lives. As one Catholic family, we work together to preserve their legacy and to build upon it to further Christ’s mission. To do this, a $56 million diocesan-wide endowment campaign will enable us to support Catholic education and enhance Catholic Charities’ services and programs in our communities.

Catholic Elementary Education and Religious Education: $40,000,000

Catholic education is unique because it seamlessly blends faith formation through a doctrinally sound and academically rigorous program of education. Especially important today, as families struggle with changing and challenging cultural and moral contexts, Catholic schools offer a clear path in developing the whole person — mind, body and soul. Catholic education is primary to the mission of the Church, and Catholic schools are the most effective means the Church has to form the minds and hearts of future generations.

A one-year education study by Meitler Group consultants found that our elementary and high school students are well-prepared for the future based on test scores and successful performance as students advance. However, a need to review and possibly consolidate some of our schools, as well as, funding for tuition assistance, updating equipment and curricular resources are major challenges. Thus, these are reasons to proceed with a feasibility study. The age and condition of our elementary schools limit technology capability, thus there is a need for updates and upgrades so schools can provide a 21st century learning environment. In order to ensure a stable and healthy future for Catholic elementary schools and to have even greater impact on the Church and society, we need to help our diocesan elementary schools in two ways.

First, we need to make Catholic education available to all who wish this academic opportunity for their children.  Secondly, we need to continue to offer excellent education.  This means keeping up with the fast pace of changing technology and updating our facilities.
Both these themes require a steady stream of significant financial resources. The Education/Catholic Charities Endowment Campaign and Parish Sharing will respond to these needs with two endowments.

  • $20,000,000 for tuition assistance for Catholic elementary schools.  The earnings from this endowment, anticipated to be approximately $1 million annually, significantly opens opportunities for Catholic education for the less fortunate among us.  Need and eligibility for financial assistance would not be determined by the diocese.  Instead, parish schools would continue to bear the responsibility of identifying those in need and vetting eligibility for tuition assistance. Grants from this fund can be used for school tuition and religious education tuition.  Schools would apply for grants from this endowment which would be distributed according to available funds.
  • $20,000,000 for technology and facility improvements.  Annually, an additional $1 million in endowment earnings would be available to assist parish elementary schools in improving the educational product offered to their students,  and for  facility improvements including those needed for  religious education  offered to  those not in a Catholic school.  


Catholic Charities:  $10,000,000

Catholic Charities has the enviable role of being the Church’s face-to-face presence in the lives of our diocese’s most vulnerable.  What some may see as obligations or inconveniencies, Catholic Charities sees as opportunities to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and comfort the afflicted.

Mercy not pity is the focus as our agency seeks to improve life by following the Gospel’s call to serve the poor and disenfranchised.  God’s mercy leads us, through Catholic Charities, to provide 80,000 meals annually to children and unemployed.  Catholic Charities supports families choosing adoption, guides pregnant teens choosing life, and advocates for residents of more than 120 long-term care facilities to ensure dignified, respectful care.  Catholic Charities brings the news of God’s comfort to those who survive a family member’s suicide or a classmate’s death.  And it guides the unemployed returning to the dignity of supporting their families. 

The annual Diocesan Appeal generously responds to the administrative expenses of the diocesan Catholic Charities service programs.  Some ministry programs, however, need government grants, service fees and charitable donations.  With tough economic times continuing in the communities of our diocese, it is increasingly difficult to maintain  existing levels of service and nearly impossible to expand assistance to the needy.   With a new $10 million endowment, Catholic Charities can better serve the needs of the entire diocese.

Parish Sharing: $5,600,000

To ensure that all parishes benefit directly from the generosity of the faithful, 10 percent of cash collected in each parish for this proposed endowment campaign will remain at the parish level.  The parish, at the direction of the pastor and his consultative bodies, may choose to endow those funds to benefit the future needs of the parish, or may use those funds for current needs.  Once the parish reaches its target, one-half of all amounts collected in excess of the target will also remain at the parish level, in addition to the original 10 percent. 

Campaign Expenses:

We are truly blessed that Mr. Paul Barsi, who led the 2000 United in Faith campaign for our diocese has come out of retirement to assist us with the Education/Catholic Charities Endowment Campaign and Parish Sharing.  This will help enormously in keeping the campaign expenses to a minimum. Mr. Barsi will help the diocese assemble personnel to assist in the implementation of this proposed campaign.   We estimate expenses incurred for the campaign will be approximately 1.5 percent of the funds raised in the campaign.  

Conclusion:

This proposed endowment campaign is an important step in our journey with Christ as we commit ourselves to securing strong parishes who strive for their students to receive a solid faith-based education.  In addition, this proposed campaign will enable us to live Christ’s mission as we care for those in need.   

Our last diocesan campaign in 2000, broadened funding for needy parishes and schools, religious education programs, formation of seminarians, and security for our retired priests.   Your gifts are currently still funding these specific needs.  This proposed campaign seeks to provide funding for all parishes and schools through tuition assistance, facility and technology improvements and parish sharing of funds raised to make our diocese strong for years to come.  The communities we live in also benefit as we show Christ’s love for the marginalized through supporting and growing Catholic Charities programs.

Our first step in this process is a feasibility study to be conducted to test a $56 million goal in order to increase funding for tuition assistance, for facility and technology improvements, to strengthen parishes through parish sharing of funds and to grow Catholic Charities programs.   The study process will assist us to determine our next steps.  Your input, advice and guidance are a very important part of this process, and your participation will be greatly appreciated. 
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