Cambria County Parish Hoping to Feel the Warmth on Giving Tuesday

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By Tony DeGol

As a long-time Religious Education teacher, Nancy Wessel wants her students at Saint Michael Parish in St. Michael to feel the warmth of Christ – literally and figuratively.

For that reason, she is thrilled to be heating things up with an initiative that will help the parish realize its goal of purchasing new furnaces.

Saint Michael Parish is joining all other parishes and Catholic schools in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in this year’s #iGiveCatholic campaign on Giving Tuesday, November 30.

Countless organizations participate in Giving Tuesday, a global day of generosity through online giving, which occurs on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This year, in partnership with #iGiveCatholic, parishes, schools, and various ministries in the diocese stand to benefit from the generous spirit of those who want to see our Church thrive.

“We need furnaces really bad,” Wessel said bluntly. “A couple years ago, we were able to update to a gas furnace in the church, but the parish hall and rectory still need updating.”

Monsignor David Lockard, Administrator of Saint Michael, tapped Wessel to spearhead the parish’s participation in #iGiveCatholic.

As a retired banker, she obviously knows a thing or two about money matters, and she recognizes the potential for her parish.

“I’m super-thrilled that the parish gets to keep 100 percent of the donations,” Wessel stated. “That is one of the biggest things we need to communicate to our parishioners. Because I’m an ex-banker, we are going to be so transparent with all of the funding to assure our parishioners that the money will go directly to purchase furnaces and nowhere else.”

Updating the heating is vital to the life of the parish, Wessel insisted. Besides Religious Education classes two days a week, the hall is used for funeral lunches and a slew of regular meetings.

“It’s an active parish,” she added. “We need to provide a comfortable environment – especially for our kids.”

While new furnaces are necessary at Saint Michael, Monsignor Lockard reminded that other parishes have other needs that #iGiveCatholic can help them meet – especially after more than a year of lower offertory amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s great to watch Mass on TV, but if you want to have Mass in a building, you have to pay to take care of it,” Monsignor stated. “We need people to dig down into their pockets to get parishes back to where they should be.”

Parishes and Catholic schools will have the opportunity to spend all the money they raise for a project or projects of their choice, said Heather Foor, Director of Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

“The diocese did not set fundraising goals for them,” she added. “It’s completely up to them to decide a target amount and how they will use the money they raise. There is no fee taken off the top. One hundred percent of every dollar will go to the parish, school, or ministry. That’s unheard of in fundraising.”  

The five diocesan ministries selected for donations are Vocations (supporting the formation and education of Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown seminarians), the Proclaim! TV Mass (assisting with production and broadcasting costs of the weekly TV Mass), Youth Ministry, Family Life, and Catholic Charities.

To donate, go to aj.igivecatholic.org and click on the parishes, Catholic schools, or ministries to contribute.

For those who prefer writing a check or sending a cash donation, please use the envelope included in this issue of Proclaim! Magazine, and please fill out the envelope. The diocese will direct all donations to the parishes, schools, and ministries indicated on the envelope.

“There are so many organizations vying for dollars that day, so it’s nice that parishioners can tie their giving spirit to their faith and support something that touches their lives in an important way,” noted Foor.

“My goal is to see excitement and build excitement among our parishioners,” added Wessel. “Our parish is our home. This is the time to take ownership of our home and build for the future.”