Parish scores success with light-hearted approach to the 2017 DMF campaign

By Ginny Revel

The pace and stresses of modern life are often overwhelming, whether at home, work, church or in the community. Seriousness is often the order of the day. Staff and council members at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Grand Junction are seeking to lighten this gravity with some comic interludes.

According to Wendy Williams, the IHM bookkeeper, “It’s time we started to think outside the box and have some fun together. With a little imagination we can turn any negative into a positive.”

She was talking in general terms about building up the parish and generating a “can do” attitude. But Wendy is also targeting the 2017 Diocesan Ministry Fund (DMF) campaign as a special project to enliven parishioners. Her idea was to give tithing a “new spin” in order to engage the parishioners at a higher level. So far this year she has met amazing successes.

For about 16 years, Wendy reports, the efforts to get the DMF assessment pledged and paid off was a monumental task. “It’s always been a struggle to turn the tide around to generous giving, especially in light of the economic downturn of the past several years. People’s pocketbooks are continually stretched, and asking for an additional major donation commitment often met with resistance and negativity. We had to come up with a new approach.”

The plan to have more fun came to fruition while traveling from Montrose to Grand Junction after the DMF Kickoff Dinner this January. To kill some boredom on the ride home, Wendy and her companions John Gratkowski (IHM business manager) and Kathy Sargent (IHM pastoral council member), began tossing around crazy ideas meant to inspire parishioners to increase giving. By setting fun activities for each DMF goal attained, the team figured that parishioners would have something to look forward to and cheer on while they kept the DMF campaign “visible” all year. Their creative juices flowed and by the time they reached home, Wendy, John and Kathy had a list of events to inaugurate.

With additional input from IHM pastor, Fr. Don Malin, the new, light-hearted 2017 DMF campaign was launched. Wendy decided to create a DMF Wall of Fame showcasing each parishioner’s pledge with their name on a leaf. When the pledge is paid off, a beautiful red rose is attached, creating a flowering vine. This theme also ties in nicely with the diocese’s 75th anniversary celebration dedicated to St. Therese, the Little Flower (“a shower of roses”) and to Our Lady of Guadalupe (the roses from Juan Diego’s tilma). Decorating the church’s wall with a touch of springtime draws everyone into the closeness of a parish family, pulled together for a common cause.

Next the planners got really wild in setting goals and the “payoffs” for attaining those markers.

The first target was reached just before Easter and celebrated on the weekend of April 22 – 23. With $35K paid in pledges, roughly one-fourth of the actual payoff amount, to the diocese, the IHM Business Manager, John Gratkowski, received a cream pie to his face after each of the weekend Masses. Fr. Don did the honors.

When the second goal is reached, roughly half of the assessed amount, each parishioner will receive a signature IHM “thank you” pen. Achieving the third goal will merit a “sweet treat.” Enstrom Candies, a local, but internationally renowned confectionary will donate candies for everyone at the weekend Masses. Finally, when the entire amount is paid off, Fr. Don’s praise band, Just Believers, will perform a concert during a celebratory party. Keeping track of the DMF payments and the major goals has engaged the parishioners’ attention and caused conversation about their financial achievements. Wendy, Fr. Don and the parish finance and pastoral councils are very pleased with the response and the number of active DMF participants. The parish has banded into a real faith and service community under the auspices of the DMF.