1st wave of the Ignite! Campaign kicks off

May 19, 2022

All Saints Church Des Moines

St. Theresa Church in Des Moines is one of eleven parishes that launched the first wave of the Ignite! Campaign earlier this month. 

Just as the campaign seeks to fund projects that will grow the faith and Church throughout southwest Iowa, St. Theresa will use its parish share of funds for projects that will benefit all of its parishioners.

Detailed plans for St. Theresa’s parish share funds were announced during kick-off weekend May 14-15. Plans include renovating the parish office and athletic fields as well as replacing the parish’s heating and air conditioning system.

“We are excited about this campaign because it offers our parish the opportunity to address some long overdue projects while also investing in the future of our Diocese,” said Father Raphael Assamah, pastor of St. Theresa. “And as a parish with a school, the endowment for tuition assistance will make a big difference for families who need financial support in sending their children to St. Theresa and the other schools throughout the Diocese.”

The $45 million Ignite! Campaign is a diocesan-wide effort that will have wide-ranging impacts for schools, parishes, priests, seminarians, and every family in southwest Iowa. Specifically, the campaign will:

• Ensure thriving and sustainable Catholic schools with the establishment of a $25 million endowment for tuition assistance. Proceeds from the endowment will complement yearly funding from the Catholic Tuition Organization, significantly increasing the amount of aid available to families in need and reducing the burden on parishes and families to send children to Catholic schools.
• Support seminarian education by adding $5 million to the current endowed Diocesan Seminarian Fund. The Diocese has been blessed with average class sizes of 22 seminarians over the last 10 years and anticipates future classes of similar size, but current sources of funding provide enough funding for 18 seminarians each year.
• Care for retired priests by infusing $2 million into the Priest’s Pension Fund, which supplements traditional retirement benefits that diocesan priests receive. With 45 retired priests and 18 more expected to retire in the next 10 years, this will bring the fund more in line with the projected annual need.
• Invest in parish renewal and vibrancy with the establishment of a $3.5 million endowed Parish Renewal and Vibrancy Fund to help people of all ages grow in their relationship with God and live as disciples of Jesus. This will provide parishes with funding for their own local ministries, technology upgrades to strengthen their digital presence at all levels, and continuing educational opportunities for our clergy, catechetical leaders, and families.
• Support every parish by returning a portion of the funds raised at each parish for their own needs. Parish projects can include capital improvements, significant maintenance needs, debt retirement, and more.

The campaign features a unique approach to ensuring the greatest local impact for parishes throughout the Diocese. 

For example, for parishes with schools in urban areas such as Des Moines or Council Bluffs, 50 percent of what they raise will go toward the Catholic Education Endowment, while parishes in rural areas with little to no access to schools will keep 50 percent of what they raise for their own local parish needs.

The campaign is being rolled out at churches across the Diocese in three waves, with a different group of churches in each wave. As of early May, the campaign has raised over $15 million in gifts and pledges.

“While our parishioners will feel the impact of our parish projects the most, I think many understand the positive outcomes that the diocesan priorities will bring forth,” Father Assamah said. “More children in our schools, more priestly and lay vocations, and more opportunities to live and grow in our faith will result in more people encountering Christ. These are worthy investments for the future of our greater faith community.”

During the kick-off weekend, campaign committees had different ways of getting the word out to their parishioners. St. Theresa’s kick-off featured lay witness talks during Masses, while the Basilica of St. John hosted a reception after Masses to launch its effort.

“Since February, our parish has been preparing volunteers and learning about the campaign in the bulletin and online.  As the case statements arrive in homes this week, we know our parishioners will respond to the invitation,” said Mary McConville, one of St. Theresa’s campaign co-chairs leading a team of over 30 campaign volunteers at the parish. “Our volunteer team will be reaching out personally to as many parishioners as possible to discuss the needs in more detail, answer any questions they have, and hopefully secure their support.”

She added: “There is something for everyone with this campaign. Personally, I’m passionate about Catholic education and want to see our schools flourish well into the future, but I also know we also need to invest in other areas. As Catholics we’re part of something bigger than just ourselves or our parish, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

Other parishes kicking off in Wave One include the Des Moines parishes of All Saints, Basilica of St. John, Holy Trinity, Our Lady of the Americas, St. Ambrose Cathedral, St. Peter Vietnamese Catholic Community and St. Theresa. Parishes in West Des Moines in this wave include Sacred Heart and St. Francis of Assisi. Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart in Ankeny and St. Patrick Parish in Dunlap are also a part of Wave One. 

Parishes in Wave Two of the campaign will begin preparing in late spring followed by kick-off weekends beginning in late summer.

For more information about the campaign including the videos and frequently asked questions, visit dmdiocese.org/ignite.