A virtual celebration to mark the completion of the “On the Way-¡Ándale!” capital campaign of the archdiocese was held in the Pastoral Center atrium June 16, as attendees toasted the nearly $59 million raised for parish and archdiocesan projects, expressed gratitude for all the hard work, and gave thanks for friends made along the journey.
A huge surprise at the gathering was the announcement by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, that the archdiocese was working with an estate of at least half a million dollars – and probably more – that will put the total near the $60 campaign goal. The funds are designated for a specific parish. Those gathered erupted in applause at this tremendous news, as the campaign thermometer was colored gold to reach the goal line.
“What a blessing the campaign has been for our archdiocese — you can see the updates, renovations and newness in most all our parishes,” said Bryan and Mary Jo Grundhoefer, who served as general chairs of the effort. “We are celebrating with thanksgiving the success of the Andale campaign and the sacrificial generosity of all the people in our church.”
Father Larry Christian, chair of Clergy Committee, recalled the beginning of the planning process back in 2015. Currently the pastor of St. Ann Church in San Antonio, next year he will become the founding pastor of St. Jose Sanchez de Rio Parish (St. Joselito), which will receive funding from the campaign.
Auxiliary Bishop Michael Boulette expressed his gratitude for those who have worked diligently for three and four years on the Andale campaign, as well as to everyone who has contributed funds, prayed for the campaign, and invited others to hear about and support the effort.
Though this campaign was to raise significant funds for major capital improvements and expansion in the archdiocese, other fruits were borne from the work: 2,133 volunteers gave of their time, talent, and treasure; 6,333 families became first time donors to the church; and more than 22,000 families supported the campaign.
“New friendships were made and community was built at the archdiocesan level. Volunteers called their fellow parishioners, they met for coffee, they hosted hundreds of gatherings like spaghetti dinners, backyard parties, and in-home receptions — all to build up the church, build community and to have some fun,” said Bishop Boulette. He added, “Communications were increased both from the archdiocese to all Catholics and from our community back to the archdiocese, which gave us some interesting insights to what is on the minds of the people of God here in south central Texas. One of the best benefits of the campaign is that each parish will be able to complete projects at their church, so everyone will see the fruit of their gift.”
Archbishop Gustavo told the 40 event attendees and thousands of others watching live on Catholic Television of San Antonio as well as archdiocesan Facebook livestream and YouTube that after three years of hard work and many challenges, they gathered together to celebrate an amazing accomplishment.
“Did I just say challenges?” he asked. “Yes! There were many,” he stressed.
First, who could guide us in achieving our goals? “God sent us a very special gift in the person of Julie Seguin, who has had the determination, knowledge, and shear energy to make it happen!” the archbishop replied. “Julie, may God richly reward you for your fantastic efforts!”
Who among our faithful people had the knowledge, level of commitment, and wisdom to lead us in this campaign? Archbishop Gustavo highlighted four groups in particular. “God gave us the general chairpersons who not only gave of themselves, but had the tenacity and courage to invite their fellow Catholics to go ‘all-in,’ in supporting our campaign. We have had a great staff and volunteers who organized, and sometimes even agonized to get the job done. Each parish had its organizing committee who assisted their pastors in making the campaign a success for their own communities. And, of course, our pastors and priests who took on one more heavy task to build the Kingdom of God.”
What have been the results? Many parishes have already received their shares for their own capital needs. Among parishes there are many who updated their air conditioning systems, completed building projects, paid off old debts, and have set plans for their future expansion. There are Catholic schools that could repair their roofs, add electrical and technical services that were much needed, or who have begun building and expansion plans. Property has been purchased to build new parishes, two of which have already been announced — Mary, Mother of the Church and St. Jose Sanchez del Rio – with more to come in future years. Catholic Charities has been strengthened in a time of desperate need. The archdiocese is embarking on the largest formation program of training of lay ministry and service men and women in its history. El Camino de San Antonio pilgrimages are being developed among the historic missions and to tell the full story of their Catholic heritage.
“So, what can I say now?” quizzed the San Antonio prelate. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! To each and every one of you.”
Don and Carol Meyer, who also served as general chairs of the “On the Way-¡Ándale!” campaign, recalled the genesis of the current effort.
In 1955 the last archdiocesan capital campaign was held, with three Catholic high schools and Assumption Seminary built from those funds. By the year 2040, the population of the City of San Antonio is expected to increase by nearly 1 million, according to SA Tomorrow and the City of San Antonio Planning Department. Currently, the archdiocese serves more than 770,000 Catholics among 2.6 million people living in 19 counties.
“Our growth as a faith community is beautiful, however, with such substantial growth comes many pressing pastoral concerns,” said Don Meyer. “Investment was needed to continue to build and grow our parishes, schools, ministries and social services.”
Along with the team of honorary and general chairs, Archbishop Gustavo also recruited a group of priests to assist in leading, advising, and guiding the administration of the campaign. Father David Garcia, honorary chair and member of the Clergy Committee, was among the clerics who offer counsel.
When the “On the Way-¡Ándale!” capital campaign begin in the spring of 2017; the public phase was launched in October of that year with $18 million in gifts. Since then, the campaign has almost reached its $60 million goal! “Because of these generous pledges from so many good people, we are ready to complete the projects that just a short three and a half years ago we were dreaming about the possibilities,” Father Garcia exclaimed.
He shared that he has been blessed to be a part of several capital campaigns in his life and has worked with many faithful stewards in expanding and beautifying the church.
“When the campaign came to the parishes, and to Mission Concepción in particular, it was amazing to see how so many parishioners rallied around the projects, helped me to host gatherings, made food to serve, tend bar, made posters, and spoke to the congregation during Masses or by phone,” explained Father Garcia. “The good people in our parish, and I suspect all parishes, have a strong sense of ownership and pride and want to see their church facilities in excellent condition and large enough to accommodate the ministries we have.”
Julie Seguin, archdiocesan director of Development and the campaign, emphasized, “It is time to build! It is time to put your beautiful contributions to work so we can in turn do the work that the Lord has intended for us — to be missionary disciples, to evangelize, to teach, to comfort, to support.”
Several of the campaign chairs proclaimed toasts and cheers for the hope and promise of the projects and in thanks for all of the hard work on the effort.
“Here’s to the hope and promise the ‘On the Way-¡Ándale!’ campaign projects and renovations will provide to the people of God in our archdiocese,” said Bill and Margie Klesse.
Bruce and Cindy Vaio toasted, “Here’s to the amazing, hard work and leadership of all the volunteers and pastors and bishops — May God continue to bless them all in their ministry!”
And Archbishop Gustavo concluded, “May the peace and blessing of Almighty God descend upon us as we receive of his bounty, and may our hearts be filled with love for one another. Here’s to the present and future of the Catholic Church — Ven Holy Spirit Ven!”
More information about the “On the Way-¡Ándale!” capital campaign can be found at www.ontheway-andale.org.