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The ‘remarkable faith community’ of the Diocese of Lansing has made Witness to Hope a great success

The ‘remarkable faith community’ of the Diocese of Lansing has made Witness to Hope a great success

Pictured right: Greater Mission campaign team, from left to right: John French, Ryan Petrillo, Joe Citro, Jr., Johnny Day, Nancy Koons, Kristin Smith, Ryan Lopez, Donna Marino and Tony Gwiazdowski. Missing from the photo are John Alves, Marty Alves, and Paula Cadavid. 

For the campaign team from Greater Mission, which has directed the Witness to Hope campaign in the Diocese of Lansing, these last two-and-a-half years have been a labor of love. Members of this Catholic development firm came to Michigan in June of 2015, and since then have encountered a faith community that is committed to advancing the mission of the Church, enthused about their faith and the future of the Church, and which is remarkably generous.

Greater Mission team members come from all over the country, and in their time here, have become part of the fabric of our diocese. Living and working in the ten counties of our diocese and traveling home on most weekends, the team has partnered with the pastors and lay leaders in the parishes over this time to execute the campaign.

Tony Gwiazdowski is the executive director of the campaign and the executive vice president and partner of Greater Mission. He and his team of 10 professionals have worked closely with Bishop Earl Boyea; Father Tim MacDonald, pastor of Queen of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Jackson; George Landolt, chief finance officer for the diocese; John Madigan, president of the Catholic Foundation; and the bishop’s campaign cabinet.

Tony explains what has made his time here in Michigan so special.

“What has amazed many of us during our time here is the collegiality, love and respect the clergy have for each other. They support each other, speak well of each other and share a genuine concern for each other’s well-being. They are genuinely happy to hear of a brother priest’s success. That is not always the case in some dioceses. This is a tremendous presbyterate. In addition, we have never had so many younger priests and parochial vicars become so involved in the campaign. So many of the newly ordained have recognized the campaign as a way to learn more about a facet of pastoral leadership that they will need in the future, and as a way to connect to the people they are presently serving. It has been a fun experience to work with these young priests and see their enthusiasm for the process.

“Personally, I have been truly privileged to work closely with Bishop Boyea. His leadership, vision, passion for the diocese and his great sense of humor have been such a joy to experience. Our team loves to be with him, and is continually amazed at the detail of the insights he has about parishes and people. His monthly presence at our staff meetings has provided tremendous support, information and, at times, much laughter! He is truly a blessing to this diocese and to us.

“So many things have impressed us – particularly the office and ministry staff at the parishes and the diocesan staff who have been highly engaged in the campaign. George Landolt and his finance group – especially Colleen Andrews and all those involved in pledge processing – have worked tirelessly to assure accuracy and a high level of responsiveness to the pastors and the donors. John Madigan and Lisa Weber of the newly formed Catholic Foundation have been great partners on all aspects of Witness to Hope.

“Being from the East Coast, it occurs to me that reading this article a cynical person would say: ‘Well they are just saying that because its part of their job.’ But honestly, that’s just not true. As much as I love my home, I know our team agrees with me that leaving this diocese is going to be really tough. We’ve built wonderful friendships, and lived and worked in a remarkable faith community. While it hasn’t been perfect or without challenges, our campaign directors have commented on more than one occasion that this has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience because of the parishioners and the leadership of the clergy.

“Witness to Hope has been a great success thanks to so many people working together to advance the mission of the Church. Most importantly, we want all of the good people of the Diocese of Lansing to know that from our perspective – as people who see the Church in many places around the country – you, your diocese, your priests and your bishop are very special. You have something amazing here. You are very blessed, and you have blessed Greater Mission by allowing us to be part of it!”