Catholic capital drive surges past goal Money distributed for work at parishes, schools, basilica

June 17, 1998|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

With its capital campaign passing the $100 million mark, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has disbursed the first $10 million to pay for projects including maintenance for inner-city schools, restoration of the Basilica of the Assumption and land for a new parish in Anne Arundel County.

The "Heritage of Hope" campaign, which started in the spring of 1996 and winds up in mid-December, has so far raised $107 million, far surpassing the original goal of $80 million. It is the largest fund-raising effort in the history of the archdiocese and its first capital campaign in more than 30 years.

"I am thrilled by the very generous response of our people and very gratified at the wonderful leadership that our pastors and other pastoral leaders have shown in promoting this effort," said Cardinal William H. Keeler.

A side benefit to the campaign is that it has motivated many people at the parish level to help with raising the money, and as a result, "They are becoming much more knowledgeable of and involved with the work of the church."

Of the $10 million that has just been distributed, $5 million goes to parishes for repairs, maintenance and expansion of their buildings. The remaining $5 million goes to various projects throughout the state:

$1 million will be used to replace a roof, windows and the heating and air conditioning system at St. Vincent Center for Children in Timonium. The center offers a residential program and community services for children who are emotionally disturbed because of physical or sexual abuse.

$800,000 will pay for maintenance at Baltimore's Catholic schools. Archdiocesan officials expect to eventually spend $6.1 million from the campaign on urgently needed repairs to aging inner-city school buildings.

$650,000 was approved for the purchase of 23.5 acres of land on Waugh Chapel Road in Odenton in western Anne Arundel County, where a new parish and interparish school will be built "as soon as possible," Keeler said. "The school needs there are tremendous."

Last year, Keeler noted, the archdiocese had to turn away at least 4,000 students who applied to enter its schools in the Baltimore suburbs, and the booming growth area of western Anne Arundel County is one area where the need is most acute.

$250,000 will be used to subsidize the purchase of computers in every parish and school, to be used for e-mail and to connect with the Internet.

$180,000 will go to repairs at the Monsignor O'Dwyer Youth Retreat House in Sparks.

$150,000 will begin restoration and preservation work at the Basilica of the Assumption.

The ultimate goal is to make it reflect "the original vision of the great architect Benjamin Latrobe, who was working on the U.S. Capitol at the same time he designed this, and Archbishop John Carroll," Keeler said. "And that would include trying to restore the dome to its original appearance inside, with natural light coming down to illumine the church. It would make it much brighter."

In addition, the basilica needs extensive repair to its infrastructure, including wiring, plumbing and ventilation systems. The archdiocese estimates it will have to raise $5 million for repairs and an endowment for the basilica.

"We need to engage an historic architect," he said. "We're looking to get the best one in the United States in order to do the best possible job for what is, without question, the greatest architectural, historical and artistic treasure of our church in the United States."

Pub Date: 6/17/98

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