Improvements to come, both on the grounds, in ministries

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As the Catholic Strong campaign in the Diocese of Camden continues throughout South Jersey, faithful are giving of their treasure to build up their local church for future generations.

At Egg Harbor Township’s Saint Katharine Drexel Parish, 80 percent has been raised on their goal of $655,000. When the parish does hit the 100 percent mark, 70 percent of funds raised will go toward its own projects, and 30 percent will go to the diocese for its outreach to all of its six counties.

Planned initiatives at the parish that will utilize the Catholic Strong funds include improved lighting and pavement resurfacing in the parking lot, and an updated HVAC system, said Father John Vignone, pastor of Saint Katharine Drexel.

As well, the campaign will help the parish’s various ministries, like its outreach to young adults, and its “Neighbors to Neighbors” program, which reaches out to local families in the community, in evangelization and fellowship.

“We’re pleased where we are,” said Father Vignone, calling his parish “a Christian Community that proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ, promotes respect and justice, and welcomes the unity created from our diversity.”

Established in March 2000, the Church of Saint Katharine Drexel currently has 1,800 families, with more than 5,500 members. Its history began in 1821, with the birth of John McKee, the son of slaves and an apprentice to a bricklayer in his teenage years.

Later in his life, McKee acquired 4,000 acres of property in Atlantic County, 2,500 of those in Egg Harbor Township. After his death in 1902, his estate was bequeathed to the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Patrick John Ryan.

After the church was established in Egg Harbor Township in 2000, Camden church officials acquired this property from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2001, making the community the 141st parish in the Diocese of Camden.