Alma Buenavista was puzzled after her parish telephoned on April 20 to confirm if she was still going to volunteer at a Capital Campaign reception the following day.
The parishioner from Our Lady of Good Counsel in San Leandro didn’t recall offering to volunteer.
A check of the volunteer card showed that Arela Buenavista, Alma’s 8-year-old daughter, had filled out the card and signed up the family.
When Alma questioned her daughter, Arela responded, “Oh yeah, Mom, I signed up our whole family to volunteer at the reception.”
The whole family did show up, and volunteered at the reception sign in table, making sure everyone had their campaign packets, and Arela personally wrote out all the nametags.
That reception was the evening before Arela’s birthday, and instead of planning out her birthday celebration, she was leading her whole family in volunteering for the campaign.
The Buenavista family is one of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of contributors to participate in the Diocese of Oakland’s year-long Capital Campaign, Reclaiming Christ’s Mission Together.
The participation of everyone in the diocese is key to the success of the $65 million campaign, which will raise money for parishes, social services, clergy retirement, education and debt relief.
“We need people’s participation,” said Kelly Storrs, an executive with Guidance in Giving Inc., the firm helping conduct the campaign.
Some of the campaign effort has gone into more than 300 receptions at different parishes; many of them attended by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ.
“There’s a change in attitude and support when the bishop comes to a reception,” Storrs said. “People come to meet the bishop and build a stronger relationship with the diocese.”
“If Christ and His Church have been there for you, will you be there for Christ and His Church now that He needs you?” the bishop asks.
To manage the campaign, the diocese’s 84 parishes were roughly divided into two “blocks;” about 30 parishes were approached last year; the remainder this year. Major donors, those who give more than $100,000, are approached separately, and several parishes combined a local fundraising effort with the Capital Campaign.
The campaign has raised about $28 million from parishes so far, with 5,490 pledges received in Block 1. It’s too early for numbers from Block 2 to have been compiled, Storrs said.
Half the parishes in Block 2 have yet to have their “commitment weekends,” when their parishioners are asked for contributions.
“We are in the middle of Block 2,” Storrs said. For those who haven’t yet participated, “it’s your time to pledge now.”
“We must do our share,” said Bella Albano-Asis, a parishioner at Holy Spirit Parish in Fremont. “We don’t have the opportunity of washing Jesus’ feet anymore with perfumed oil, but we can show our love for Him by giving generously to take care of the poor, the young, the elderly and the imprisoned.”
It may be easy to dismiss the campaign as just another request for money, Albano- Asis said. But nothing is free. We pay for doctors, exercise gyms and caretakers, she said. “If we give away so much to take care of our physical well-being, how much more for things that take care and nurture our souls which will live forever?”
The ministries the campaign will aid include Catholic Charities, education scholarships, aid to seminarians and priest retirement.
“In consideration to all of these, contributing to the capital campaign or any religious endeavor for that matter is the best investment for the monetary fruits of our labors,” Albano-Asis said.
Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, meets with parishioners at a Capital Campaign reception at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Brentwood on May 7.