In a year of celebration, FaithWorks’ 25th anniversary campaign was a great success, made possible by generosity from parishes and individuals in all corners of the diocese. In 2021, FaithWorks raised 97 per cent of its goal, or just under $1.5 million, to help the most vulnerable members of society.
“I think it’s quite amazing, given the circumstances and the pandemic,” says Peter Mentis, FaithWorks campaign manager. “That means, most importantly, that we can sufficiently fund our ministry partners this year. And that’s what it’s all about – supporting the ministry partners who do all the frontline work with those most vulnerable among us and who need our help. Thank you to the donors and volunteers, the parishes and individuals who, by supporting FaithWorks, also contributed to that work with those most vulnerable.”
Early in 2021, Bishop Andrew Asbil issued an ambitious 100+1% challenge, to encourage every parish to participate in the FaithWorks campaign and to set a fundraising goal that exceeded its 2020 result by at least 1 per cent of its overall offertory amount. The diocese rose to that challenge and achieved the most successful parish campaign since 2005, and the second-best in FaithWorks’ history. In all, 93 per cent of parishes participated and 31 per cent increased their giving by at least 1 per cent.
Mr. Mentis takes these results as a sign of enthusiasm and support for FaithWorks across the diocese. “FaithWorks appeals to faith and to love, and people continue to express those through FaithWorks,” he says. “In spite of this struggle with the pandemic, people are willing and able to continue to give. Their souls have been cultivated to take on the challenges that the pandemic gave us and be able to step up and help those who are most vulnerable.”
The impressive results mark a shift from 2020, when FaithWorks saw a drop in parish campaigns as communities struggled at the start of the pandemic. At the same time, there was a surge in individual donations, especially online. “We saw individual donations as the vehicle through which people gave support, which was a change,” says Mr. Mentis. “Like everything else, FaithWorks went online. We were able to pivot to online giving.”
Parish campaigns came back strong in 2021, with the help of a $100,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor. For every dollar raised over the previous year’s amount by an individual or parish, FaithWorks received an extra dollar. Mr. Mentis and his colleagues also introduced the ability for individuals to attribute an online donation to their parish campaigns, something that had been missing before.
Mr. Mentis says he’s truly impressed with the generosity and creativity he’s seen from parishes. “Every parish, whether it has struggled with a FaithWorks campaign or been successful with a FaithWorks campaign, everyone has been able to contribute, even those through their prayers, which is always valuable and important,” he says.
He was also grateful to have had the opportunity to start visiting FaithWorks’ ministry partners when pandemic restrictions lifted in the fall. “I’m hoping as the lockdowns begin to ease, I’ll be able to get out to visit both ministry partners and more parishes, to continue to learn about the operations of our ministry partners in person and be inspired by the work they do,” he says.
For now, he’s looking ahead to the 2022 campaign, which started rolling out to parishes during Lent. Its theme is inspired by a quote from Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury: “Abundance and grace call us to be generous and trusting.”
“We all have received such abundance and grace from God, and our faithful response is to be generous and trusting: generous to those around us, and trusting that God will provide for us,” says Mr. Mentis.
This year will also see two new ministry partners join FaithWorks: the Durham Region Migrant Worker Ministry, led by the Rev. Augusto Nunez, and A Place Called Home, which supports homeless men, women and families in Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County.
As he looks back on two years as the FaithWorks campaign manager, nearly all of which has been marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Mentis says he’s struck by a sense of gratitude. “They have been an exceptional and unusual two years, certainly,” he says. “I have been witnessing this outpouring of love, this witness to the Christian faith. It’s been inspiring for me to continue on with the work looking forward into the future.”
For more information about FaithWorks, including links to the ministry partners, video resources and ways to donate, visit www.faithworks.ca.