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Capital Campaign 2002 Q&A

Why does St. Gertrude Parish need a building project and a capital campaign?

St. Gertrude Parish has a legacy of faith and fellowship. Since 1998, our parish family has been working on a plan to continue that legacy. As part of the process, we have surveyed parishioners and listened carefully to their needs. We have developed a new and improved mission statement for the parish and a vision of what the parish will be for the next 20 years. The feedback from parishioners clearly indicates we need to restore our facilities to their original beauty, expand our parking and improve traffic flow, enhance our school to make it more competitive, and provide more meeting and office space. The feedback also indicates that as good stewards, our parish family supports these necessary improvements. The ultimate vision for our parish will cost $14 million to $16 million over several years. In working toward the larger goal, the parish first is concentrating on the more immediate needs through a $9.8 million first phase. A capital campaign, “Open Wide the Doors to Christ,” hopes to raise more than $7 million toward Phase One. A significant portion of the money raised through the capital campaign will replace our Dominican Catholic elementary school. It is nearly 70 years old and serves 500 people every day. Replacement costs are only slightly higher than refurbishment costs. Replacement will result in superior facilities for schoolchildren for generations to come.

Why has the planning process taken so long?

“God’s time is not always our time, but He's always in time.” Changes in leadership did delay the process. However, our parish family’s critical review of all facets of parish life have produced several significant outcomes over the past three years:

  • Purchase of two adjacent properties on Shawnee Run Road to expand parking
  • Purchase of a convent on Miami Avenue for the Dominican sisters
  • Formation of a Steering Committee to further study the facilities needs of the parish and provide the most appropriate solutions
  • Development of a long-range vision and master site plan for our parish
  • Creation of a Development and Stewardship Office to support the giving of time, talent and treasure for our parish
  • Creation of a Business Office to effectively manage administration, finances and facilities

What is the value of building a new school?

The current school is nearly 70 years old, has been added to three times, and remains undersized and inadequate for the current
enrollment of 450 students. The cost of building a new school is just 8 percent higher than the cost of adding to or renovating the existing building. More importantly, a new school will provide the parish with a quality Dominican Catholic school that is consistent with our mission. A new school building will:

  • Benefit the entire parish family. Students enrolled in our school as well as those enrolled in religious education programs will use the building. Additionally, Eucharistic adoration will be available in the school chapel. A new gym built during a second phase of construction will free the parish center for broader uses.
  • Separate school and church traffic, making it much safer for the children and other pedestrians
  • Create designated classrooms for art and music. Currently, the art teacher travels from classroom to classroom with a supply cart. For music lessons, it is the students who must travel, going from the school to the parish center.
  • Create bigger classrooms and place grades K-4 on one level, along with the cafeteria, art and music rooms, library, computer
    lab and office
  • Provide a quality ventilation and air conditioning system, along with accessibility for the disabled
  • Significantly enhance the learning environment for teachers and students, helping to attract and retain a stronger faculty
  • Provide a more secure entrance The school is the oldest building on campus, and it serves the greatest number of people per day. School improvements consistently rank No. 1 or No. 2 in parish surveys of building priorities.

Will we change the church?

NO! The “Open Wide the Doors to Christ” capital campaign will raise money to restore the church to its original beauty when it was dedicated on April 16, 1961. We will clean the church thoroughly inside and out and attend to the brickwork as necessary. We will refinish the pews, replace the kneelers, and improve the sound system and lighting. We will check the roof and the heating and air conditioning systems. The project will also improve the confessionals and the vestibule will be renovated so that it can be used by families in lieu of a dedicated “cry room.” Finally, we will add a first-floor restroom.

What is the role of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati?

The Archdiocese has a process in place for parishes planning building projects. The process requires approval from the Archdiocese on the project’s budget, plan and financing. The Archdiocese also can lend money to the parish for the project. Archbishop Pilarczyk has assured us in writing that we will not be required to modify our altar, tabernacle or sanctuary.

What about the facility needs of the Dominican friars and sisters?

With the help of an Archdiocesan loan, we purchased our new convent in January 2000. In addition, the Dominican Friars of St. Joseph and the Dominican Sisters of Nashville are conducting capital campaigns at the same time as the parish is conducting the “Open Wide the Doors to Christ” campaign. The friars’ campaign provides for new apostolic activities, health care, education of future priests and capital repairs to facilities — including the priory at St. Gertrude’s. The sisters are completely renovating the motherhouse and expanding their facilities to provide for the dramatic increase in vocations that they are experiencing. We chose to incorporate the Dominicans’ needs in our campaign as a way to recognize in gratitude the unique contributions they have made to the spirit and the legacy of St. Gertrude Parish. We will set aside 5 percent of donations from the “Open Wide the Doors to Christ” campaign for the Dominicans.

Is there any connection between the stewardship initiative and the capital campaign?

The concept of stewardship is not limited to an annual appeal for pledges of time, talent and treasure. Stewardship is a way of life — a commitment to lovingly receive and tend God’s gifts, and to share them and return them with increase. We hope that parishioners will consider sacrificial giving in their regular weekly contributions and in the capital campaign as ways to
give thanks to God for the gifts of this unique parish and to enable future generations to enjoy these same gifts.

What will be the time frame for implementing all components of the site master plan?

The work will be done consecutively. The two houses on Shawnee Run that were purchased to expand parking will be demolished in May, with new parking available this summer. Church restoration will start in August and is expected to be completed in early December.
Construction of the new school is projected to begin in December, with completion expected by summer 2004.

How much more parking will we actually have?

The current conceptual Phase One design increases parking capacity from 271 spaces to 310 spaces. Studies indicate this is adequate for peak usage of the facilities. Further studies will be done during the schematic design. The 310-space capacity will be achieved in the summer of 2002 after the houses on Shawnee Run are removed. However, during Phase One construction, the number of parking spaces will vary between 271 and 310 as different activities occur. Parking closures will occur intermittently to ensure safety during construction.

What kind of facilities will religious education have?

The classrooms in the new school will greatly improve the learning environment for students in religious education at St. Gertrude Parish. Additionally, the new school will provide adequate work space and dedicated storage for religious education.

If the school is built as shown on the master plan, what happens to the football field? What happens to the storage garages?

Construction of the new school will decrease the current size of the baseball/football practice field. The new school design will incorporate storage space for the Scouts, festival and other parish activities.

Will we have to borrow money to complete Phase One of the project?

The “Open Wide the Doors to Christ” pledge period stretches over four years. The construction timetable spans a much shorter period. Obviously, we will need money for the building phase that we will not have until all pledges are paid. The more money we raise through the campaign, the less we will need to borrow. At the same time, however, borrowing at a reasonable rate will allow us to complete more of the master plan in Phase One than we could otherwise accomplish. Parish leaders are committed stewards of the church and will monitor and prayerfully consider the best long-term interests of the parish in pursuing loans for the project. St. Gertrude has historically been financially conservative and that will not change.

How much will school tuition increase?

The building project will not impact school tuition. The pastor and the Finance Committee annually review tuition and fees. Their objectives are to make Dominican Catholic education as affordable as possible while maintaining the highest quality of instruction at St. Gertrude School. The primary purpose of tuition increases is to raise teacher salaries.

What are projected operational and maintenance costs for the new school compared with the old school?

Despite increased space and amenities, the operational and maintenance costs for the new school will not be significantly higher than those of the current school.

When the church is being renovated, what provisions will be made for weddings and Sunday masses?

Sunday masses will continue to be held in our beautiful church while restoration efforts are under way from August through December 2002. Scaffolding and other equipment, as well as folding chairs, may cause minor inconveniences for worshipers during this period. We will work with couples to accommodate weddings.

Will the school maintain a regular schedule during the renovation?

Parish leaders do not foresee a change in our school schedule. School will remain in session throughout the construction period.

Will we use the two adjacent houses we purchased?

The Shawnee Run properties upon which these two houses sit have been included in the master plan for St. Gertrude Parish. The houses will be demolished and the land used to expand parking and improve traffic flow to and from the parish.

Why should I contribute to this project when our world and our economy are so unsettled?

In the face of recent events, the time is right to turn to Christ and to each other. Now, more than ever, it is appropriate to focus on enhancing the faith-based community that sustains us, in good times and in bad. September 11 clarifies our priorities. The needs within this campaign are overwhelming. The time is now. Contributions to the “Open Wide the Doors to Christ” campaign can be spread over as many as four years, and the past has shown us that we can weather the ups and downs of the stock market. With God’s grace, we have recovered from world wars, from the Great Depression, and from turmoil inside and outside of our nation’s borders. With God's grace, we have built a community of faith and fellowship at St. Gertrude's Parish. And with God's grace, as His stewards, we will maintain and enhance that legacy for generations to come.

What assurances do I have that my money will be spent according to this plan?

The “Open Wide the Doors to Christ” campaign — and indeed the entire parish planning process — has been built on accountability, integrity and fiscal responsibility. Father Ken is deeply committed to the long-range vision of our parish and ensuring its success. Additionally, periodic reviews by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will provide even more oversight and accountability.

Finally, Terri Butler, our business manager, and Kathy Reising, our director of stewardship and development, will apply their professional skills to the successful management of the campaign and construction.

Can I earmark my money for a specific use in the building project?

Stewards can designate their contributions for a specific use in the building project, but parish leaders hope that donors instead will allow campaign managers to fund projects in order of need.

Will my name be on a plaque as a contributor to the campaign?

Everyone who participates in this capital campaign will be recognized in a number of ways, unless, of course, donors wish to remain anonymous. In addition, certain items in the campaign will be available for memorial gifts or naming opportunities.

When and how will I be contacted and asked to give to the campaign?

The campaign will be conducted between January and June 2002. Every parish family will be personally invited to participate, most through home receptions and personal visits. Father Ken and volunteer campaign leaders will manage the invitation process. They will be supported by ISPD, the national Catholic development firm working with the parish in this building and campaign effort.

How much am I expected to give?

The amount of your gift, your pledge, is entirely up to you. To achieve the master vision, it will cost $14 million to $16 million over the next several years. Phase One is a start, and parish leaders hope that each family will make a prayerful stretch in giving for the good of the parish now and for years to come. A sacrificial gift for the future of our parish is a testament to the wonderful work of our Dominicans, talented lay faculty and the dedicated men and women who have built this legacy of faith and fellowship.

How is the campaign organized? What is next?

The “Open Wide the Doors to Christ” campaign will kick off in January 2002 with a Pacesetter reception and an invitation to contribute significant amounts to “set the pace” for the rest of the campaign. The public phase of the campaign begins in April 2002, and will focus on the entire parish family as well as friends and businesses in the community. The divisions for the public portion of the campaign are:

  • Parish Gift Division
  • Education Gift Division
  • Business Community Gift Division
  • Friends Gift Division
  • New Parishioner Gift Division