Parishes surpass their Catholic Strong goals

Parishioners have been responding generously to the Catholic Strong campaign, and two parishes have already reached their goal. Pictured is Msgr. Louis A. Marucci (with Bingo, his service dog), pastor of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Gibbsboro.

As the Catholic Strong campaign in the Diocese of Camden keeps rolling throughout South Jersey, two parishes and their pastors are celebrating the achievement of reaching their parish goals for the campaign, and the generosity of their faithful in making their mark on the future of the local church.

Gibbsboro’s Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish and Divine Mercy Parish in Vineland have raised over 100 percent of their stated Catholic Strong goals. As per the campaign, the parishes will now receive 70 percent of their goal toward their individual needs, with 30 percent going to fund the Diocese of Camden’s coordination and support of various new initiatives and ministries.

In addition, 80 percent of total funds raised past that amount will also go to the parish.

“My parishioners love the Lord, and they love their parish,” said Msgr. Louis Marucci, pastor at Saint Andrew the Apostle, adding that when approaching his parishioners about giving to the campaign, either on the altar or face-to-face, he told them they had an opportunity “to build the future of our parish, and of the Diocese of Camden.”

His flock responded, and with help from his 12-person Catholic Strong parish leadership team, who made phone calls and met with people face-to-face, Saint Andrew reached its goal of $1,265,000 even before its in-pew solicitations. At press time, the parish has so far raised almost $1.5 million dollars.

Father Joel Arciga Camarillo, pastor of Divine Mercy, Vineland. Photos by James A. McBride

The money raised for his community will go toward such ventures as creating a new space for the senior ministry; sidewalk repairs around the property; interior work in the church; and a new bronze statue of Saint Andrew.

“Spirituality exists in these people,” Msgr. Marucci continued. “I clearly see the love and generosity of these parishioners to make a difference. I’m proud to be their pastor.”

One of the members of his Catholic Strong leadership team, Kathy Emrich, praised Msgr. Marucci for his “extraordinary leadership” during the campaign.

“His vision which he presented to parishioners, and what it would mean to the parish and diocese, was a formula for success,” she said.

In Vineland, Divine Mercy Parish reached their goal of $575,000 a month ago, and at press time had raised $605,000 for Catholic Strong, according to its pastor, Father Joel Arciga Camarillo.

Like Msgr. Marucci, he emphasized to those in the pews the opportunity to ensure a lasting presence for the church in South Jersey.

“This campaign is not just for me, but for future pastors here, and future generations,” he said.

With their goal surpassed, his people “are convinced that we need to do these things.”

The parish has plans for the money raised, including the installation of new heating and air conditioning in Saint Francis of Assisi Church; the installation of bathrooms in its churches; roof repairs; and, in conjunction with nearby parishes, Saint Padre Pio and Christ the Good Shepherd, a full-time youth minister for Vineland.