The 25th Anniversary Capital Campaign for Saint Elizabeth Church is SO CLOSE TO THE GOAL!

Certainly, 2021 has brought many challenges, yet many blessings to all of us. For our parish, some of those blessings have come in the form of good works by good people, who have offered their time, talent and treasure to our Anniversary Capital Campaign. Since the time of the last newsletter, the 40-member volunteer campaign team has collaborated to share the details and significance of the campaign with fellow parishioners.

While maintaining the best practices of philanthropy and stewardship, the team responded to the impact of the pandemic by making dramatic changes to the traditional campaign events which were initially envisioned. With social gatherings restricted, they designed and hosted more than 20 virtual “Zoom” receptions for hundreds of parishioners in lieu of in-person events. In each reception, volunteers spoke warmly and personally about their commitment to their faith and the impact that meaningful participation in Saint Elizabeth Church has had upon them and their families. Parishioners responded in kind, taking time to share more about themselves and getting better acquainted with others.

Father Mullin, whose recorded video presentation was shared at each reception, has received numerous complements and wonderful stories from parishioners who joined in the receptions. Theirs gift of time, together with the efforts of the volunteer team, has already led to an overwhelming response to the campaign!

In fact, the Moving Forward in Faith – Extending God’s Light campaign has raised close to $4.3 million - that is 86% of our overall goal of raising $5 million as we look forward to the celebration of the parish’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 2025!

Last spring, all registered parishioners received a letter from Father Mullin inviting and encouraging their participation in the anniversary campaign. The mailing included an informational brochure and a pledge form to be completed as they prayerfully discerned their level of financial commitment to the campaign. Since the inauguration of the campaign late last year, many parish families have responded with great generosity. Gifts at every level have been gratefully received and continue to come into the parish office. Some are making pledges to be fulfilled over 3-5 years, since the campaign pledge period continues into 2025. Other parishioners are making one-time gifts, often indicating that they may add to their initial gift in the coming years. Whatever way parishioners choose to participate, we are very grateful to all who make a commitment to the anniversary campaign.

This fall, the campaign team is planning to host several in-person receptions in the parish social hall for parishioners who have not yet had an opportunity to learn about the campaign while they socialize with fellow parishioners. Specific arrangements for these receptions will be communicated on the parish web site and social media pages.

If you have not yet participated in the Anniversary Campaign, you can truly make a difference and help Saint Elizabeth Church reach and cross our $5 million goal! 

Gifts at any level may be made in honor or in memory of loved ones. You may also be eligible for a matching gift from your employer for the Parish Education Fund, which is being supported by the campaign. In addition to cash, gifts may also be made via stock or other appreciated assets; a number of our donors have chosen this option.  To do so, please contact Sam Venuti at svenuti@stelizabethparish.org or 610-321-1200.

If you have any questions about the anniversary campaign, please call the ministry center to speak with Father Mullin or with one of the campaign volunteers. Continue to watch the bulletin or check the website for the latest details.

Most importantly: pray each day for the success of the campaign for Saint Elizabeth. May all of us continue Moving Forward in Faith and Extending God’s Light in the years to come!

- Kathy Caliendo/Fr. Tom Mullin

When suddenly you seem to lose all you thought you had gained, do not despair. You must expect setbacks and regressions. Don't say to yourself ‘All is lost. I have to start all over again.’ This is not true. What you have gained you have gained...When you return to the road, you return to the place where you left it, not to where you started.”  - The Inner Voice of Love, Henri Nouwen

The pandemic stopped us all in our tracks, made us re-evaluate our priorities, and urged us to confront what we took for granted in our daily lives. Yet, as the Henri Nouwen quote above showcases, as our lives begin to pick up again, we are not to despair in the time lost, but instead, we are to take comfort in recognizing what we’ve already accomplished through God’s grace during the past months as a parish family and where the Lord is leading us now.

All of us know instinctively that nothing compares to in person engagement. Whether it’s being at a friend’s wedding, sitting down to have a heart-to-heart conversation, comforting family members while they are grieving, or watching as your baby takes their first steps, we all know that being physically present makes all the difference. The same logic applies to our life as Catholics. Especially when it comes to the Mass, truly, nothing compares to being there.

In a recent letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Archbishop Nelson Pérez puts it this way, “The words spoken at the Consecration of the Mass resonate deeply in our souls. ‘This is my Body which will be given up for you. This is the chalice of my Blood…which will be poured out for you.’  At every Mass, we bear witness to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Through the gift of the Eucharist, which the Lord instituted at the Last Supper, we receive His pure and boundless love over and over again. As Catholics, we believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. Such a precious gift deserves our reflection and appreciation. It’s not something we can experience virtually. Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is real and our personal presence is required to receive it.”

Live-streamed Masses, committee and faith formation Zoom sessions and conference calls have allowed us to retain some sense of connection in isolating times, but it is time to “return to the road.”  Our participation in the Sacraments, together with the faith community at Saint Elizabeth Church, acts as a compass; the Holy Eucharist, being in a deeply personal communion with Jesus Christ, is our true North. Active participation in the liturgy is such a privilege. To be able to raise our voices in answering Fr. Kevin’s greeting that “God is good all the time…and all the time, God is good,” takes on an enlivened spirit when done as one voice with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  

Fr. Chamber’s reflections on the scripture readings at the beginning of Mass become a personal invitation to receive the Word of God more deeply. Fr. Mullin’s reaching the people at eye-level as he shares his homily resonates more deeply, more intimately, when done in the light streaming through the stain glass windows as opposed to the pixelated reflections on our computer screens. And our collective recitation of the Parish Stewardship Prayer acts as an encouraging reminder and renewed commitment that our works of stewardship service accomplish great things in Jesus’s name. 

As we get back on the road, we take courage in knowing the progress that’s been made, our abilities to pick up where we left off, and how we can do so much more when we are together in person and in communion with Christ through the Sacraments we celebrate together.

 - Lindsey Ranstrom

Get to know the 25th Anniversary Capital Campaign Honorary Co-Chairs

 

More than 325 parish families have already responded with wonderful generosity to the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Capital Campaign. The campaign’s primary goal is to sustain the many ministries of Saint Elizabeth Church through 2025 and beyond. It focuses on three top priority needs: debt reduction/elimination: a restricted education fund to support the parish school and faith formation programs; and ongoing technology development & long-term main­tenance. In the end, this project is all about our parishioners and the community we serve.

Here are some thoughts from our Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Capital Campaign Honorary Co-Chairs:

Therese V Bentley

I am not one of the long- term parishioners at Saint Elizabeth, but I would like to tell you what the parish means to my family. It starts with my parents, who moved here from California in 2002. Their transition was difficult, having left family and friends, but they found a wonderful community at Saint Elizabeth.  Participation in the Senior Adult Ministry and Bible studies provided them with support and fellowship. 

I was so thankful that my parents were happy in their new parish. When I attended Mass with them, I felt a spirit of caring and welcome, especially from Father Mullin. My husband Barry and I officially joined the parish in 2017. It has been a wonderful move.

I’m happy to be an Honorary Co-Chairperson for the 25th Anniversary Capital Campaign. Reaching the financial goal of the campaign will allow Saint Elizabeth to support growth in faith among our children and adult parishioners. I am grateful for the compassion and community spirit at our parish and hope to see it continue well into the future.

Mike and Mary Ann Hughes

We are very fortunate to have been part of Saint Elizabeth Parish since its inception. In these days of frequent mobility, only a few practicing Catholics are afforded such a unique opportunity. We remember with a smile our Sunday Masses at the Lionville Middle School gymnasium, or as it was affectionately called “Our Lady of Lionville”, and now reflect with pride the faith community that is Saint Elizabeth today. To us it is just that, a wonderful faith community.  

Our involvement in the parish over 20 years has led us into the paths of so many wonderful, loving and caring people. When mom passed away last year we were blessed to receive sympathy cards from family and friends, but we were taken aback by the large number of cards and words of condolence from our Saint Elizabeth family.  Many came from folks we did not even know that well.  What a wonderful example of the deep friendships our faith community at Saint Elizabeth holds for us.

Simply, we are committed to the 25th Anniversary Capital Campaign so that our parish can ensure its financial health in future years and continue the work of stewardship we started many years ago. We are doing it for those who will come after us.

Joe and Holly Ippolito

We are blessed to be original members (from the “folding chair club”!) of Saint Elizabeth.  Our son was a student in the first kindergarten class at Saint Elizabeth Parish School. Through the years he received an excellent and well-rounded education for which we are most grateful.  

We participated in the prior campaigns to offer our stewardship and enjoyed the opportunity to meet many families we may not have otherwise had the pleasure to know. It is important to us that our parish continues to offer a faith-based education for our children and by retiring debt we will also assure our parish’s financial stability and vibrancy into the future. To know our generation will offer families who come after us the special spiritual gift of Saint Elizabeth Church is worth the time and effort it takes to preserve it for many years to come!

Mary C. Mulherin

In the mid-1990s I returned to the east coast following a 24-year career in southern California. Four years later my cousin, Father Tom Mullin, was appointed the founding pastor of a new parish in Chester County. I knew immediately that God’s hand had led my return to this area.

From the beginning I observed and participated in the exciting growth of Saint Elizabeth Parish by serving in a variety of ministries and committees. Decades later we now recognize the need to invest in a number of maintenance activities in the church and education center, while simultaneously reducing our long-term financial responsibilities. With lower Mass attendance -- especially due to the ongoing pandemic -- the need for additional voluntary funding has become all too apparent.

Many of us who shared in the development of this stewardship parish will not be around 25 years from now to celebrate its 50th anniversary, but many will. I believe that our generosity in this campaign will help to maintain parish facilities for future generations.

After participating in prior capital campaigns, I am grateful to have the opportunity to pledge again and am humbled to have been selected as one of the Honorary Co-Chairpersons serving in our 25th Anniversary Campaign. I pray that future Saint Elizabeth parishioners will continue to share in the love of Jesus Christ and in the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.

  • Spirit Staff

Since the fall of 2019, the Living Beyond Sunday: GPS theme has helped Saint Elizabeth parishioners strengthen our commitment to a stewardship way of life through a multi-focused campaign of Growing, Praying and Serving. At its core, Living Beyond Sunday: GPS invites the parish at large to recognize that stewardship is not just a Sunday activity, but rather a daily way of life to best utilize the gifts bestowed upon us by our Heavenly Father. "As Catholic believers, it is our responsibility to receive and nurture these gifts, and then share them abundantly with others in charity and love," says Deb Romich, who has served on the Parish Stewardship Council for a number of years.

As the council prepared to engage our parish in the third focus of the three-phase campaign (Serving), it found inspiration from Saint Teresa of Calcutta who said, "Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love." So while serving others is a tangible way to see our faith in motion, Saint Teresa also recognizes that meaningful acts aren't always part of a large, organized effort.

Moving forward in that spirit, the Stewardship Council identified opportunities where we, as individuals, can grow in our desire to serve others during 2021. Calling or writing a note to a relative who is shut in due to COVID, donating blood, preparing a meal for someone, completing yard work for the homebound, driving someone to a doctor's appointment or participating in a business or work sponsored charity event - these are just some of the ways we may (already!) practice daily stewardship. Stewardship Council member Jo Ann McNamee encourages us not only to draw on our own personal interests but also to let prayer guide how we can individually serve others. "Our spiritual growth is just as important when it comes to stewardship," she says. "It allows service to become a natural and intuitive part of our everyday relationship with God and others."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stewardship Day of Service (SDOS) team was unable to conduct its annual day of service this spring. In response, the SDOS team designed a new program named Serving Our Community (SOC), rooted in the Stewardship Council’s focus upon the serving component of Living Beyond Sunday, to provide opportunities for our parishioners to serve others in our daily lives. “Recognizing that area agencies still have a need for volunteers, we designed a new series of service opportunities that can be completed by small family units and/or socially distant groups,” says Anne Tymon, Serving Our Community team member. The redesigned program enables parishioners to participate in service opportunities more frequently and conveniently. “Since we launched the SOC program this spring, agencies have already expressed how thrilled they are to have help again and are excited that we are able to provide support throughout the year,” says Anne.

This year, look for the Stewardship Council's suggested service ideas sprinkled throughout the weekly bulletin or via the parish's social media pages. "Not every gesture has to be profound for it to be impactful," says Deb. "If we lean on the Holy Spirit--our spiritual GPS--to guide us, we can take many of the same gifts that helped personally sustain us during a challenging year and offer them up in humble service to others."

- Amy Giampietro

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Sidebar:

Reflecting on 2020 Stewardship Service at Saint Elizabeth

Even during the pandemic, our parish community found ways to fulfill its stewardship role by adapting its service-oriented ministries to safely operate in a COVID environment. Some implemented car lines for collections/drop offs, while others moved to a Zoom-only format. By the numbers, we still accomplished a lot including:

  • 1,635 casseroles collected for the clients of St. John’s Hospice in Philadelphia
  • 287 crafted items (blankets, hats, scarfs) and 200 rosaries made (which Fr. Kevin took to Nigeria)
  • 700 Giving Tree gifts donated and distributed
  • 49 volunteers working with the Good Works Home Repair Ministry
  • $18,998.76 donated to organizations that receive assistance through our parish Poor Box collections

For the past five years the Shannon family has called Chester Springs (and by extension, Saint Elizabeth Parish) their home. This is now the 18th place that Tim and Mia Shannon have called home in their 34 years of marriage! They are the youngest children from two military families and are accustomed to frequent family moves.

Mia and Tim started dating during high school in Orlando, Florida and both went on to attend the University of Central Florida. They were married right after graduating from college in 1987 and their journey together around the country began. “Some moves were for family reasons, some for work and some because we like change,” they explained.

The Shannons have four children. Their twins, Tyler and Samantha, are 31 years old. Tyler graduated from North Carolina State University and was recently accepted into law school. He lives with his wife, Nicole, in Alburgh, Vermont. Samantha has a Master’s degree from the University of Colorado and is a teacher in Durham, North Carolina.

They also have two teenage boys who are currently attending Downingtown East High School. Zachary “Zack,” age 16, is a sophomore and Luke, age 15, is a freshman. They are both actively involved in the parish Youth Ministry Program and enjoy all of the activities.

Tim and Mia have been very involved in parish life since they arrived in our area. Mia attended the RCIA program and was welcomed into the full communion of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in March 2018. She now offers her stewardship service at the narthex hospitality desk before and after weekend Masses, to the Elementary Faith Formation Program and the 25th Anniversary Capital Campaign committee. Tim is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, has served as a catechist and is a member of the Men’s Spirituality group.

“We also volunteer our time within the parish on an ad hoc basis as opportunities arise,” they said. “Having moved many times, volunteering with the parish has proven to be a wonderful way to meet like-minded people and engage within the parish community, all while making very good friends.”

When asked about the best part of offering their stewardship service, Tim and Mia answered that they believe that church is not defined by a building or structure, “Saint Elizabeth is defined and characterized by its staff and its parishioners. We like to engage, interact and contribute. It’s our small way to help the parish community evolve and prosper,” they said.

We at Saint Elizabeth are happy to have the Shannon family here on this stop in their journey and hope it will be an extended stay!

-Sara Richardson

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