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BRAINTREE -- Cardinal Seán O'Malley announced on Jan. 30 the launch of the public phase of a $200 million capital campaign to strengthen and expand the work of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Boston.
"Inspiring Hope: Our Cardinal's Campaign for the Future of Our Catholic Faith" is a five-year campaign intended to support programs in Catholic parishes, schools and social service agencies. This archdiocese-wide capital campaign is the first to be undertaken in nearly two decades and is one of the largest faith-based fundraising efforts currently being conducted in the United States, the archdiocese said.
"Pope Francis reminds us that as Christians, 'the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Hope is the virtue of a heart that ... does not simply get by in the present but is able to see a tomorrow.' Inspiring Hope gives us confidence and optimism that we are working to sustain the good works of mercy in our parishes and for all people of good faith, those whom we serve today and the generations that will follow us," Cardinal O'Malley said.
The archdiocese has identified five main priorities for the campaign: investing in social services; investing in Catholic education; investing in parishes; supporting priests; and renovating the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
"Through this campaign, we seek to strengthen our communities of faith, with a particular focus on evangelization, community outreach and engagement with the women and men whose efforts are the foundation of a strong and vibrant Church," Cardinal O'Malley said.
The past 32 months have been the campaign's "quiet phase," during which the archdiocese raised over $150 million in gifts and pledges from hundreds of donors. So far, 22 gifts of $1 million or more, including three gifts of $10 million or more, have been committed. Among that amount is $31.5 million raised by 32 participating parishes for specific parish needs, as well as $6.2 million toward other campaign priorities.
Peter Lynch, the president of the Lynch Foundation and vice-chairman of Fidelity Management and Research Company, served as chair of the campaign's "quiet phase" and assisted Cardinal O'Malley with leadership outreach. Lynch has been chairman of the Catholic Schools Foundation's Inner-City Scholarship Fund for the past 29 years.
The Lynch Foundation has made an eight-figure commitment to the Inspiring Hope campaign to support Boston area Catholic schools.
"Cardinal Sean has supported an ambitious plan and I hope our family's gift inspires others to join me and make a worthwhile investment in our next generation of civic, business and religious leaders who can continue to make all the difference in our communities," Lynch said.
The campaign's first visible result was Holy Cross Cathedral, which reopened in the spring of 2019, after an 18-month renovation funded through private philanthropy. Improvements made during the renovation included new safety measures, such as a sprinkler system, improved lighting and sound systems, new flooring, refurbished pews, and cleaning and repair of the stained glass windows.
Parishes participating in the "quiet phase" of the campaign have been able to expand programs, establish endowments for long-term stability, and make their facilities accessible to parishioners with physical challenges. The campaign will provide Catholic schools leadership training, student scholarships, and increased compensation for retention of top educators. It is also raising funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust and the $8 million renovation of Regina Cleri Residence for senior priests.
The Archdiocese of Boston includes 1.8 million Catholics in 282 parishes. Over 110 Catholic schools serve more than 32,000 students, 43 percent of whom are minorities and 60 percent of whom live in urban areas. Catholic Charities serves 165,000 people at more than 20 locations in the Boston area, and the archdiocese's Pregnancy Help Centers and palliative care services provide life-affirming care that respects the dignity of all people.
"There is no other organization that is improving lives and offering hope to hundreds of thousands of individuals as the Archdiocese of Boston does. Thanks to our priests, deacons, religious and volunteer lay people in our parishes, schools, Catholic Charities and our numerous other organizations, countless individuals are assisted and strengthened in over 144 cities and towns," Lynch said.
"Through this work, we are able to provide adult literacy programs, job training for immigrants, legal services for refugees, food pantries, shelters for the homeless, affordable housing solutions, addiction recovery programs, daycare and a superior Catholic education in a loving environment and so much more. The work of the Church reaches so many regardless of their religious beliefs and this campaign will strengthen this mission long into the future," he added.
"This is a tremendous moment for our faith, and I am honored to be involved with this transformative effort," Lynch said.
Inspiring Hope is being conducted through the archdiocese's Catholic Community Fund. Its 12-member Board of Trustees -- two-thirds are lay people -- will oversee the management and distribution of funds and file a Form 990 for transparency.
More information about the Inspiring Hope Campaign can be found at www.inspiringhopecampaign.org.