Father Richard Myhalyk never cowers from a good challenge. Particularly in meeting the weighty goals of the parishes he pastors. “He has blessed us in immeasurable ways,” said Chad McEachern, President and CEO of Edmundite Missions.
When asked of his achievements, Father Myhalyk said the “Generations of Faith: Endowing Our Future with Hope” campaign appeal that he completed for the Selma and Orrville parishes that the Edmundite Community administers began about two years ago when Archbishop Thomas Rodi consulted the priests and lay leaders of the Archdiocese of Mobile regarding the need for a capital campaign over and above the annual Catholic Charities. His concern centered on three on-going critical needs: seminarian training, retired clergy expenses, and ensuring quality youth programs. In addition, he was aware that each parish had needs to be addressed that regular Sunday collections would probably not cover.
Support for the special campaign was mixed. Father Myhalyk had misgivings about the timing of the appeal and likely success of the program because in recent years the Selma parish has had difficulty reaching its annual Catholic Charities appeal goal. Six pilot parishes, however, had demonstrated the campaign was feasible. Consequently, the campaign went forward and the Selma and Orrville parishes were in the first “Bloc” of parishes to conduct the appeal.
Each pastor was to be assisted by parish volunteers who would help him contact parishioners and request their support for making a five-year pledge. Because the Orrville parish is very small, Father was expected to contact each and every member of that parish without volunteer help. The Orrville parish was the very first parish in Bloc 1 to exceed the goal set for it. Nearly every Catholic Orrville household pledged! That is 12 out of 14 households!
McEachern said, “He prayed, persisted and asked, and low and behold, success! Fundraising is not transactional, it is a relational and human engagement, a shared journey and vision. Parishioners trusted Fr. Dick, understood how hard he worked in and for the parish and wanted to support his request (the diocesan request).”
The Selma parish did include some volunteer help but the pandemic halted their full utilization. Nevertheless, the Selma parish responded sufficiently so that it also reached its goal. The other parishes in Bloc 1 will probably reach goal, too. (The Mid August Report shows great progress.) They lag behind Orrville and Selma because of the pandemic.
“I did not want Father Stephen Hornat to have to take on that task when he became pastor so I solicited pledges despite the pandemic,” Father Myhalyk said.
The campaign was intended to benefit the parishes. Twenty percent of what each parish raises will be used by the parish themselves for three projects approved prior to the campaign kick-off. The three Orrville parish projects are: replace the church ceiling, replace the church lights and replace the church carpet. The three Selma parish projects are: paint the church interior, replace the 150-year-old church pews, and replace the church carpet. Because the cost of repainting the church interior was manageable, it was done prior to Father Hornat’s arrival.
Once a parish exceeds its goal, the parish retains eighty-percent rather than twenty-percent of the funds raised. Obviously, the approved projects may not occur if their cost exceeds the amount generated by the campaign. For example, new pews will cost over $100,000 so that project may not materialize in near future.
Before moving on to Enders Island in Mystic, Connecticut, this summer, Father Myhalyk served in an impoverished area and through prayer and the grace of God, delivered success to the Archdiocese, the parishes and himself, McEachern said. “It's a true and lasting gift to the generation to come … and he did it. Asking for money is definitely not an easy thing. I'm just very proud of his leadership and sacrifice to make things better for all of us.”
The heart of the Society of Saint Edmund’s mission is serving where the need is greatest, a credo that has led us to four core ministries: Social Justice, Education, Spiritual Renewal and Pastoral Ministry. It is through these core ministries that we live out a faith-based life of service and make a real difference in people’s lives by bringing them closer to God.