Last year at this time we kicked off our twin capital campaigns - the St. Mary Renovation Campaign and the Diocesan Forward in Faith Campaign. Although we've made great progress in the last year, we haven't yet broken ground for our renovations. So we wanted to update you briefly on what's happening.
First, our St. Mary Renovation Campaign.
Last year we set out to raise $1.4 million. Phase I of our project is the construction of a new Narthex addition to the front of our church building to provide gathering and meeting space, new bathrooms, and a covered driveway and entrance. Phase II is the renovation of our worship space. Phases III and IV, involving much smaller sums of money, contemplate upgrading the grounds and the Parish Center. As you have recognized, these renovations are desperately needed. Our parish is just about to turn 50. The buildings we use go back almost to the very beginning. Our founding parishioners gave them to us. We now need to prepare our parish for the next 50 years. So our Renovation Campaign is all about our responsibility to provide for the future and for those who'll come after us.
During the past year, we've received pledges approaching $800,000 and have collected over $500,000 of that - making great progress toward achieving our goal. Thank you and bless you! We recently asked permission of the Diocesan Finance Council to borrow some additional funds so we can start construction without having to wait for all of our goal to be raised. That Council has granted our request so we're finally at the point where we can move forward with construction of Phase I, our new Narthex addition. We've learned that construction plans and details always take longer than we initially had expected, and constructions costs always seem to be higher than initially planned. We originally hoped we'd have broken ground by now. Our best estimate is that we'll be doing so soon after Easter. We'll then move forward with Phase II, the sanctuary renovation, when we can afford to do so.
Even though you haven't seen progress in the form of construction yet, we can assure you that we have made much progress toward breaking ground. Our Renovation Committee, our parish Finance Council, our parish Campaign Committee, and we, your priests, have been very busy making this happen. Please have a little more patience. In the meantime, we need your continued prayers, support, and financial commitment.
Second, our Diocesan Forward in Faith Campaign.
A year ago we also kicked off the diocesan-wide Forward in Faith Campaign here at St. Mary. St. Mary's portion of this diocesan effort is $656,554. The Forward in Faith Campaign is designed to position the diocese for the future. Its focus is three-fold: the future of our children's Catholic education with school construction and scholarships; our future as a sacramental people by providing for future priests in the form of supporting our seminarians and seminary construction; and the future of our parishes, including St. Mary, by providing for our capital needs. For example, when we reach our goal, 20 percent of it will come back to St. Mary. So far, we've received pledges of almost $150,000 toward our goal. So we still have a ways to go on this one.
As parishioners of St. Mary, we're responsible for providing for our parish's particular capital needs. As members of the wider diocesan Church, we join with all Catholics in the five counties of our diocese by providing for our capital needs that go beyond our individual parish. The Catholic education of our children and the formation and training of our future priests require capital investments that everyone in the diocese needs to help provide. We'll receive the benefit. We need to help contribute. Someone else won't do this for us. So Forward in Faith is really about us. We're committed to achieve our goal, so please be generous.
You may have noticed that we've recently begun to provide a simplified and easier to read Weekly Financial Recap in the bulletin. St. Mary is your parish, and you are entitled to know the financial condition of the parish, including the needs we have. You put your faith to work in our parish and in our diocese by the generous contributions of your time, talents, and treasure. We all do this because we are Catholic. It's what we're called to do. Jesus never promised us that following him would be easy. We know how difficult it can sometimes be. But giving to God is always worth it!
We invite each of you to make a special, sacrificial gift to the Lord at St. Mary this Christmas in thanksgiving for all the blessings the Lord has given you and your families this year. Special envelopes are available this Advent season for this purpose. Allocate your gift among the critical needs of the parish as indicated on the envelope: St. Mary Offertory, 2014 Annual Pastoral Appeal, St. Mary Renovation Campaign, and Forward in Faith Campaign.
It's our honor to serve you here at St. Mary as your priests. Please call upon us with your needs and concerns. Thank you in advance for your generosity, and my God continue to bless you and your families.
Sincerely yours, Fr. Jude and Fr. Tim