PHOTO: ST. HILARY PARISHIONER FRANK BEVILACQUA WITH PASTOR FR. STEVE BRUNOVSKY.
“We are investing in the future,” says Fr. Steve Brunovsky, pastor at St. Hilary Parish in Fairlawn, as he refers to the Heart of a Shepherd capital campaign that kicked off in fall 2019. “When we ask men to come to our seminaries, we want to have a place that is welcoming, warm, and comfortable. If the building is old and dingy, they may have second thoughts before even entering our seminaries.”
His parish agreed to be part of the first cohort to participate in this diocesan-wide initiative aimed at better meeting the needs of Saint Mary and Borromeo Seminaries, its seminarians, and our newly-ordained and retired clergy. And, at the suggestion of Fr. Brunovsky, the campaign added a component to fund pressing parish needs.
At the time of the rollout, St. Hilary parishioner Frank Bevilacqua was chair of the Borromeo Seminary Board. Frank assisted Fr. Brunovsky in sharing the need for fundraising.
“I continue to be impressed with the new students coming every year to Borromeo. It is amazing how many have been leaders in their schools, valedictorians, and salutatorians. We are talking about very impressive and mature young men. It helped me want to be involved and do everything I can to support them going forward,” says Frank.
St. Hilary surpassed their campaign goal of $500,000 and raised over $1 million. The funds raised for parish needs will support the formation and educational requirements of their own parish seminarians. Currently, two sons of the parish attend Saint Mary Seminary. And over the past 15 years, St. Hilary has been a training parish for the seminary. “We have had a lot of guys come through as part of their formation. People in the parish are aware of the seminary because of this,” says Fr. Brunovsky.
“The case for support is solid,” he continues. “Priests work hard and retire at 75, so to have that support in their elderly years takes away some of the worries about making ends meet. Also, educational debt is a huge thing. It’s a burden. Priests don’t get a big salary when they are ordained. Unlike someone else who may be able to pay off their debt in a couple of years, it takes a priest significantly longer. Last but not least, the seminary building has not had a renovation for ages. The current plans show the commitment of the diocese to having our own seminary.
Since the initial rollout at St. Hilary Parish and at nine other pilot parishes, the campaign has been introduced to a total of 57 parishes throughout the diocese. The campaign will be introduced to a final cohort of parishes this fall. Despite the challenges of the pandemic and in large part due to the efforts of local pastors, $25 million has been raised thus far. The total includes a $3 million commitment from the diocese. Approximately $5 million of the raised funds will return to parishes for pressing local needs.
“The way that the campaign is progressing shows that people are willing to support the formation of future priests,” says Fr. Brunovsky.
For more information, call the Campaign Office at 216-903-1300 or go to www.catholiccommunity.org/campaign.