Heart of the Shepard Campaign


I will appoint for you shepherds after my own heart, 
who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.

—Jeremiah 3:15


Dear Parishioners:

I am writing you to inform you of Holy Spirit Parish’s participation in the Heart of the Shepherd (HOS) campaign in the Diocese of Cleveland.   Heart of the Shepherd is a 30-million dollar ($30M), diocese-wide campaign to raise monies for the renovation of the Borromeo/St. Mary Seminary facilities, including student rooms and the chapel; fully funding the priest retirement fund; and providing for debt reduction to recently ordained priests who come out of the seminary with significant debt from educational costs.

Renovation of the Borromeo/St. Mary Seminary facilities is the biggest portion of the campaign with $20M allocated.   This is long-overdue.  Some of the infrastructure has been in place since the Diocese obtained the building from the Good Shepherd Sisters in the 1950s.  

  • A major renovation will be done on the student rooms. Right now, two rooms share what we lovingly referred to in my seminary days as “The Wooden Wall.”  It was what it says; between sets of rooms there was a wooden wall into which was built the desk, book shelves and closet space.  This wall was so thin that if you sneezed the guy in the next room would say, “God bless you.” The phrase, “I shared the wooden wall with him,” was shorthand for “We were practically roommates.”  With the wooden wall going away, new furniture is needed.
  • The rooms will be given individual climate control.  The current air-conditioning is the window.  The current steam-heated radiators have settings that go from “hot” to “cremate.”   Though individually controlled, there is an override so the whole system can be set at a common temperature during vacation times.  Energy-efficient lighting will be installed.  
  • The bathroom and shower facilities will be addressed. Where there had been communal bathrooms and shower rooms with individual showers, for the Borromeo college students, two students will now share one bathroom with a shower.  For the St. Mary graduate students the rooms will have their own bathroom/shower.  
  • The wiring and plumbing will be updated.  The place was just not built for the computers and electronics of the modern student.
  • There will be safety improvements.   I was on a tour of the already in-process renovation work recently.  We were told that the building would be brought up to the fire code that requires insulation with a two-hour burn time.  The seminary institutional manager, a former-seminarian, commented, “So imagine what it was while we were here.”  The term “flash paper” comes to mind.
  • There will be other improvements. These include the faculty’s rooms, the dining room, the chapel, classrooms, and other common spaces.

Funding the priest retirement fund. $7M will be used to fully-fund the priest retirement fund.  The Heart of the Shepherd is about taking care of those whom will be and those whom have given their lives to the service to God and his Church and His people.

Reducing debt for recently ordained priests. $3M goes towards this.  Some of our priests, particularly those who did not attend Borromeo College Seminary, come out of the seminary with significant educational debt.   Gone are the days when you could make enough in a summer to pay for a year of college.  The current (discounted) tuition for a Borromeo student attending John Carroll University is $26,000 per year.  (When I started in 1985, it was about $3,600 and at the end was at around $5,300)  St. Mary students do not pay tuition but have expenses of books and the need to have a car for going to pastoral assignments.

The HOS campaign began in late 2019 and the first phase took place right before the pandemic of 2020.   Holy Spirit is participating in the last phase of the collection.  So far, $25M has been pledged in throughout the diocese.

Several options were offered by the Diocese on how parishes can conduct the HOS campaign. Two were in the vein of the Rooted in Faith campaign where pledges are made and a portion goes to the parish and portion goes to the HOS campaign.  The third option is that a parish pay directly 15% of their 2020 offertory at the rate of 5% per year over three years. There was an option for just asking the parishioners to donate as they wished—the option I would have preferred—but this was taken off the table by the Diocese after the first phase.   I have consulted with the Parish Staff, the Parish Council, and the Finance Council, and we are all in agreement that the 15% over three years is the right choice for Holy Spirit.  This option was chosen in light of the need to solicit pledges from parishioners in the near future for renovations of the church and for the new office building.

Holy Spirit’s contribution to the HOS campaign, based on our 2020 offertory of $676,720 is $101,508, which is $33,836 per year ($2,820 per month).

While we will be paying this out of parish funds (your donations and investment earnings), if you can help the parish meet its goal, your monetary assistance is appreciated.  We will be keeping you apprised of the progress towards the goal in the bulletin.  In early 2022, which is when we have to begin paying on our pledge, an envelope will be added to your envelope pack and an on-line giving option will be available.  If we are able to meet our goal though your generosity in less than three years, all the better.

Why should you as a Holy Spirit parishioner support the HOS campaign?  I can speak of the general, “Because we are part of the Diocese of Cleveland.”  But as former Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.”  So what is the local aspect of the HOS campaign?  

  • Holy Spirit has had long history of having seminarians assigned here.  This is another way to support those in formation for the priesthood.
  • Fully-funding the priest retirement fund will significantly reduce the payments that the parish makes to the fund.  Thanks to the HOS efforts so far, the yearly parish contribution to the fund has dropped from $10,000 a year to $9,000.   When the fund is fully-funded, the annual parish contribution will drop to $1,000-$2,000 per.  You can see what you give to HOS as a paying now instead of paying later.  $101,508 is what the parish would pay into the retirement fund over 13 years.  From then on, the parish outlay will be minimal.
  • The goal for Holy Spirit is the cost of renovating a faculty room.  Think in these terms:  Holy Spirit is renovating Fr. Koopman’s living space.  Can we do this as a way of expressing our thanks to Fr. Koopman for his over twelve years of service to Holy Spirit?  

Again, we are paying this out of parish funds, your additional participation is optional and voluntary. If you are able to support Holy Spirit’s contributions to the Heart of the Shepherd campaign, it will be greatly appreciated by me and my brother priests--now and in the future. 

You can watch the Diocese of Cleveland’s video presentation on The Heart of the Shepherd at  https://www.catholiccommunity.org/heart-of-a-shepherd/videos.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at the parish 440-933-3777 or cstrebler@hspal.org.

In the Heart of the Shepherd,

Rev. Charles F. Strebler