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Frequently Asked Questions

Challenge Grant

Q. What’s the status of the Capital Campaign?
A. Your campaign volunteers spent the summer listening to parishioners' responses to the initial drawings and commissioning the architect to make changes based on your feedback. You may have seen the new drawings, which were introduced in November. Go online to see additional images of the narthex, sanctuary and gathering space.

A “Giving Joyfully" recognition wall was added in the back of church a few weeks ago.

The good news is that we are on track to break ground in 2018, after the Easter season. This is very exciting, and a testimony to the generosity of our parishioners.

Q. How much money has the Campaign raised to date?
A. We are on track with our fundraising, and have $2.3 million in pledges. Most capital campaigns take time to raise all necessary funds, which is why they last multiple years.

If we meet this challenge grant, will we be over 75% of the way to our fundraising goal of $3.5 million.

Q. What is a challenge grant?
A. A challenge grant is a set amount of money that can be used to encourage and inspire other donors to give. For this challenge grant, every gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar, doubling the impact of every gift.

Q. Describe the St. Stephen challenge grant.
A. An anonymous donor has come forward to offer the campaign’s FIRST challenge grant. The donor will match all new monies — dollar for dollar — donated, up to $200,000.

Q. How long will the challenge grant last?
A. The challenge period is December 16, 2017 - February 11, 2018.

Q. What if I already made my pledge?
A. If you already made your pledge, it cannot be counted towards the challenge grant. However, if you wanted to increase your pledge, then all the amount of the increase will be counted towards the challenge grant.

Example: You’ve pledged $9,000, or $3,000/year for three years. You decide to increase your pledge to $12,000, or $4,000/year for three years. Your increase of $3,000 will be matched dollar-for-dollar, creating an impact of $6,000 on our overall goal.

Q. Are there any limitations?
A. Yes, there are two:

1. The challenge grant must be met by February 11 (before Lent begins).

2. The challenge grant only covers NEW money donated.

Q. How will you tell people about the challenge grant?
A. The challenge grant will be announced December 16-17 at all masses, along with bulletin insert, web page and social media posts. An all-school and all-parish email will be sent December 18. A special handout will be created for all Christmas Masses.

Want more details? Contact Jen Crowley, Communications Chair, at (616) 481-1884.

Q. How can you help?
A. Tell everyone you know about the challenge grant. Encourage them to give if they haven’t because their pledge will count double. If you’ve already given, consider increasing your pledge.  Let's take full advantage of this generous gift.

Interior Renovations

Q. Will the choir loft be removed?
A. Yes - in order to increase space and lighting for gathering, the choir loft and stairs will be removed.

Q. What will the renovated interior of the church look like?
A. The biggest visible change will be to the sanctuary area. A tripartite triumphal archway will form an arcade and define the main sanctuary area, along with the choir (to the south) and baptistry (to the north). A spire above the altar will allow natural daylight to stream in. A new, elevated ambo will wrap around the exterior of the columns. A reservation chaplette housing the tabernacle will be relocated behind the altar. Access to the sacristy will be behind the baptismal font. The sanctuary floor will connect to the nave using the same Jerusalem limestone.

Q. This design feels very "old school". Are we trying to go backwards?
A. Not at all! Our goal is to bring in more traditional elements of Catholic identity to create a more inspiring, prayerful worship space. Working within the confines of a renovation, rather than a new build, means we are taking design cues from the original architecture to create a space that feels welcoming and balanced.

Q. Will the new archway block the view from the pews?
A. No. Sightlines should be similar to what they are today. Note the close up view of the rendering below -- the areas connecting the choir, sanctuary and baptistry are all combined. Note the open space between the columns. The ambo is of a lighter scale
and has moved to the north side of the Altar closer to the Baptismal Font.

View of Sanctuary with Updated Ambo and Location

Q. What will happen with the existing statues in the church?
A. Current statuary will be placed in small chaplets on the north and south sides of the nave.

Q. What is the impact on church seating from the renovation?
A. We will have the same amount of seating in the main nave area. Additional seating could be available in the narthex area during peak Mass attendance times such as Christmas and Easter.

Q. Are there plans for hearing augmentation?
A. Yes

Q. How will the sanctuary renovations affect acoustics?
A. New arches are screens, while openings between columns will provide both visual and acoustic balance. The new sanctuary will be a more lively atmosphere. We are working with the architect and Todd Wilkie, Director of Music Ministry, to assure the choir continues to sound as wonderful and warm as they do today.

Q. Are there three steps up to the altar on all sides?
A. There will be steps on two sides but not steps on south (choir) side. Including a ramp was initially discussed but ultimately not chosen because of the 18’ of length it would require. Instead, a simple lift will be added on the south side for accessibility.

Q. Will the new sanctuary be dark?
A. The new sanctuary will actually be a brighter space than the current sanctuary. See the updated renderings hereThe plan is to introduce a skylight above the altar, providing more natural light. Additionally, new interior lighting will give the space a more welcoming look and feel. The blue ceiling paint has not been finalized but will be more of a mid-tone than the dark navy that printed in the renderings.

Q. What is the purpose of the archway that defines the sanctuary and worship area?
A. The archway honors the original design of the church, bringing back the original three arches in the sanctuary area. The archway represents a veil shrouding the consecrated Body of Christ, and helps achieve our goal of making the sanctuary area more prominent in the church.

Q. What value does this design bring to the parish?

      • Beautifying our church in design
      • Help us lift our minds and hearts to the Lord and strengthen community
      • Reaffirm our Catholic identity
      • Establish the church as a place of prayer and also a place for community, socialization and gathering
      • Help us to continue to improve our school and support the next generation of St. Stephen
Q. What are Fr. Scott's thoughts on the new design?
A. Fr. Scott is very happy with the design. In his words,

“The central thing that’s happening when we come together is to worship. The function of liturgy is to glorify God. Everything in the church is to point us to the altar — that’s why it’s in the center, under the spire -- all other elements are meant to support that. This new sanctuary will help us to focus on hearts and minds on the Lord by focusing on building on the altar — our principal object in the church + tabernacle.”

Exterior Renovations

Q. What will the renovated exterior of the church look like?
The Rosewood and Franklin entrances will be connected by a new, heated plaza that wraps around the southeast corner of the building.
      • At the new main entrance on Rosewood, the white stone overlay will be removed, bringing back detailing such as the set of five arched windows over the main door and a niche.
      • The existing main entrance will become a chapel.
      • Facing the main parking lot on Franklin, two covered double-doored entryways will welcome people into the side gathering area.
      • The outdoor gathering area will be much larger than the current sidewalk.
      • On the Gladstone entrance, there will be a new main entrance for the school with a covered canopy entry and new doors.
Q. Will the bell tower be removed?
A. The tower will be lowered to provide architectural balance to the facade. The current entrance area will become the new chapel.

Q. How will church parking be affected?
A. Parking will be unaffected. Only one parking space will be removed. The new entrances will provide easier access to the sanctuary from the parking lot.


Q. Where will Mass be held during construction?
A. Mass will most likely be held in the school gymnasium during the renovation.

Q. When will construction begin?
A. Our plan is to "break ground" in Spring 2018.

Q. How long will the construction last?
A. Our plan is to have construction completed in time for Christmas 2018.


Q. How do I decide what I should commit to our capital stewardship campaign?
A. Prayer and reflection! One of the campaign themes is “Not Equal Gifts, but Equal Sacrifice.” Everyone is blessed differently. Everyone cannot give the same amount, but all gifts make a difference and are appreciated.

Q. What does “sacrificial” mean?
A. Sacrificial giving is a personal act of giving generously of yourself or your resources as a response to God’s immeasurable generosity to you. A sacrificial commitment is one that requires you to change your lifestyle while fulfilling it – perhaps a re-prioritization of how you use your God-given resources. What could you be willing to do or do without? What can you postpone or alter? Everyone is being asked to sacrifice over three years to enable our important capital plans.

Q. What if I’m uncertain about my financial future?
A. We encourage you to prayerfully consider a three-year commitment, however if your circumstances change, you are welcome to alter your commitment by contacting the parish office. Pray to know God’s direction and trust God as you are lead.

Q. Will there be naming opportunities as part of the campaign?
A. We are reviewing those options. However, if anyone is interested in a possible naming opportunity, they should contact one of the campaign co-chairs to express their interest.

Q. How much money do we need to raise?
A. The total project is budgeted at $3.5 million. We are on track to-date, having raised $2.3 million. We have received 211 pledges to date.

Q. Will I have an opportunity to make pledge payments as I desire?
A. Yes. You can designate how you wish to fulfill your commitment: weekly, monthy, quarterly, annually, etc. over a three-year period. Special giving envelopes will be provided for payments.



Q. What is the intention of the Bishop for St. Stephen’s future (mergers, closures, etc.)?
A. The Bishop has no intention of closing St. Stephen evidenced by his approval to move forward with restoring our facilities.

Q. What is the meaning of a 21st century teaching and learning environment for the school?
A. Effective learning and teaching continues to change and the school is adapting to these needed changes that allow space, furniture and technology for much greater interaction between students and teachers along with current technology tools. Adapting to these needs will keep our school on the cutting edge of best teaching and learning practices.