Diocese of Providence launches capital campaign to commemorate 150th anniversary


PROVIDENCE — Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has announced the start of the “Grateful for God’s Providence” capital campaign that will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Providence, to be celebrated in 2022. Formally initiated in January, the campaign will run for two years with a minimum goal of $50 million to support the church’s mission in Rhode Island and maintain the viability of parish and diocesan funds.

“The capital campaign is an important and historic initiative for the Diocese of Providence as we prepare to celebrate our 150th anniversary,” said Bishop Tobin in a statement released upon the announcement of the campaign in July.

“It is a tangible way of showing that we are ‘Grateful for God’s Providence,’ which we have all experienced over the years, while also creating a beautiful legacy for future generations.”

In addition to supporting current operations, funds raised through the campaign will ensure the future of the church’s mission by bolstering endowment funds that support diocesan outreach programs to the poor and vulnerable as well as strengthen opportunities for Catholic education. The campaign will also provide for the present and future needs of priests by supporting seminarian formation and contributing to the Our Lady, Queen of Clergy Retirement Fund Endowment.

“The financial needs of the church are clear, but the faith and generosity of Catholics in this diocese continues to be remarkable,” said Bishop Tobin. “I am very confident that the campaign will be successful, and I hope that every member of our church will participate in this historic campaign.”

According to Robert Corcoran, director of the Office of Stewardship and Development, the “Grateful for God’s Providence” campaign is the first comprehensive capital campaign conducted by the diocese in more than 20 years. Planning began last January, when clergy, religious, laity and chancery officials participated in a feasibility study to determine the needs of the diocese and the schedule of the campaign.

“Hundreds of people were involved, which was wonderful,” said Corcoran. “There was a good effort at trying to decide what we need.”

Of the campaign’s $50 million goal, $20 million will remain in local parishes to meet needs determined by parish leadership. Each parish will be assigned a goal based upon their weekly collection income, with 40 percent of funds collected up to the goal returning to the parish and 60 percent of funds returning once the goal has been surpassed.

“So much of this stays home [in your local church],” said Corcoran.

In addition to the funds reserved for parishes, the campaign will dedicate $8 million to seminarian education, $8 million to support retired priests, $5 million to Catholic school tuition assistance, $5 million to Catholic Charities and Social Services and $4 million to preservation and maintenance of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. In particular, funds reserved for the cathedral will support the replacement of its slate roof, an original component of the 128-year-old structure that serves as the home of the Catholic faith in Rhode Island.

Support for the campaign will be provided by Guidance In Giving, Inc., an organization that has provided consultation on fundraising initiatives to more than 60 Catholic dioceses. The firm will oversee all parts of the campaign, including the organization of informational sessions at individual parishes.

“Each parish is going to host a number of receptions where every registered family from that parish is going to be invited,” explained Daryl Thomas, a representative of the firm and executive director of the campaign.

The campaign will proceed in four phases, with 17 parishes kicking off their campaigns in March and the remaining parishes participating in successive blocks through the end of 2019. Three parishes, St. Joseph Church, Providence, St. Thomas More Church, Narragansett, and St. Mary of the Bay Church, Warren, conducted early campaigns to coincide with their own parish capital campaigns and have already raised approximately $5.5 million.

“The campaign receptions went well and the members of the parish understood from the beginning that we would be helping both our parish and also our wider diocesan family,” said Msgr. Raymond Bastia, vicar of finance for the Diocese of Providence and pastor of St. Joseph Church, Providence. “With the first disbursement of our percentage from the campaign contributions, we have already been able to start our repair projects at St. Joseph.”

Larry and Diane DeMichele, campaign chairpersons and parishioners at St. Thomas More Church, expressed their support for the campaign and emphasized the importance of supplementing material support with prayer for their parish and the wider diocesan community.

“Our Catholic faith is the essence of our hope for the future,” they said. “Our parish and diocese need spiritual as well as financial support to make sure they will be able to continue to serve the faith community for the coming decades.”