SALT LAKE CITY — The 2018 Diocesan Development Drive kicked off the weekend of Jan. 27. Throughout the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Catholics received pledge forms in the mail and many priests announced the annual drive, which provides funding for all of the diocesan ministries.
“The DDD affords us with opportunities to support and sustain the mission of the Church,” Bishop Oscar A. Solis wrote in a letter included in the pledge request. “It provides necessary funding for various ministries that exceed the abilities of any individual parish, such as religious education, the formation of future priests and deacons, support for rural missions, assistance for the needy and the most vulnerable, enhancement of youth and Hispanic ministries, and support for my vision of a ‘New Evangelization.’”
The theme of the 2018 DDD is “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Jn 11:28). This theme reflects the idea that the word of God is activated through the Church ministries that are supported by the DDD, said John Kaloudis, director of the DDD office.
The funds raised by the DDD support all diocesan ministries and administration, Kaloudis said. “It’s an essential part of the local Church.”
Each parish in the diocese is given a DDD goal that is based on its annual ordinary income. Parishes that exceed their goal are given a rebate.
While the pastor’s support of the parish DDD is necessary for success, another crucial element is an acknowledgement of the intimate relationship between faithful Christian stewardship and donations to the DDD, Kaloudis said.
“If we are faithful Christian stewards, we realize our responsibility to give and to support not only our local parish but also the diocesan initiative,” he said.
The third indispensable ingredient for success is energized lay leadership for the drive, he said.
“The parishes that are the most effective in reaching their DDD goal, and exceeding their DDD goal and receiving a rebate, are those that have good, strong lay leadership,” Kaloudis said.
An example of the success of those three ingredients is St. Ambrose Parish in Salt Lake City, which last year reached its goal in June, despite having one of the highest assessments in the diocese.
Lisa Romero and Pam Marron-Sewell are co-chairpersons of the St. Ambrose DDD committee. They attended the DDD orientation presented by Kaloudis’ office, which gave them useful materials such as bulletin announcements, they said.
They then met with their pastor, Fr. Andrzej Skrzypiec, who helped support the DDD in many ways, including making an initial announcement for the kickoff and recognizing Romero and Marron-Sewell each time they were present to accept DDD pledges after Mass, the women said. He also was open to new ideas such as sending an email blast to parishioners about the DDD, they said.
When they made their own appeal to parishioners, they shared their personal stories and helped connect the list of ministries supported by the DDD to real-life examples, Romero said.
Romero, who grew up in Cedar City, recalls how the DDD helped the Christ the King community grow – she originally attended Mass in a renovated house, but in 1988 a new church was dedicated. Because of the parish’s growth another, larger church was built in 2003.
Having the resources the DDD provided to Christ the King Parish “meant a lot to me as a youth,” Romero said.
Marron-Sewell, on the other hand, grew up in St. Ambrose Parish; her family was among the founding members. She was baptized in the original church and recalls watching the new church being constructed. Through the years, whenever the pastor requested something, people responded, she said.
“We have this rich history of giving,” she said, and she is working to have this tradition continue.
“Our parish is so generous,” Romero agreed. “We are blessed that we can do this, that the diocese can expect this of us and that we can answer the call.”
In addition to in-person appeals, they organized a phone-a-thon, in which nine parishioners helped make calls. They tried to call people they knew personally, which was a little awkward, they said, but by the end of the night they had brought in $10,000.
Another key to their success was that they followed up whenever people asked questions, they said.
“It’s important just to be there,” Marron-Sewell said.
A parish doesn’t have to be large to be successful. At St. Florence Mission in Huntsville, Susan Winter is beginning her third year as chairperson of the DDD. She follows much the same strategy as at St. Ambrose, with an appeal from the priest during the first week, and her own appeal the next week.
In her presentation, she explains what the DDD is, because many people, including new parishioners, don’t know, she said. “I think people think it’s just the diocese asking for extra money; I don’t think they realize that this is the diocese’s budget.”
She also uses the bulletin announcements provided by the diocese. In addition, she regularly puts in updates to let parishioners know the status.
St. Florence parishioners form a community where people stay after Mass to chat, and when volunteers are needed, “tons of people dig right in,” Winter said, adding that she believes that community spirit is responsible for the success of the mission’s DDD. “Our parishioners make my job so easy.”