Restarting CMIC’s Awareness Campaign

Life member Jeanne Wilson, President-Elect Shari Guinta and retired Archbishop Martin Currie at National CWL Convention in Kelowna, BC

CMIC’s Awareness Campaign is one of three major campaigns in our strategic plan, along with Fundraising and Education. Awareness is exactly that – letting people know we exist, who we are and what we do. The pandemic interrupted this for the last two years. A tremendous amount of momentum had been built prior to the first lockdown. Much of what was achieved was lost and had a negative effect on our Fundraising Campaign. It was just the way things were for most charities and continues to a certain extent.

Awareness is aimed at increasing CMIC’s public visibility and understanding of our cause. We want to spread the word about our purpose, explain why it matters, and show how to get involved. We aim is to grow our audience, create a stronger base of support and increase knowledge of Canada’s mission areas.

While donations may be generated through our Awareness Campaign, it’s focus is not fundraising. That’s why I usually state that I am not looking for funds when doing such presentations. Such is fundraising etiquette.

Opening Mass of the CWL National Convention at Immaculate Conception Church, Kelowna

Similar, but different, is stewardship, which involves retaining and managing donors. In the last issue of our Magazine, I wrote about the connections CMIC has with its donors and the need to maintain them. In an Awareness appeal, I may also be stewarding donors who are present by reminding them of missionary needs. Stewardship technically belongs within fundraising. Awareness comes first for obvious reasons.

Fortunately, we are getting back to campaigning again, although progress is slow. Last spring and summer offered opportunities to join the convention circuits for the Catholic Women’s League of Canada and the Knights of Columbus. Both organizations are huge sponsors of CMIC and conventions are opportunities to both make their members aware of our organization and to maintain individual donor members. Stewardship Officer Joe Gennaro and I split duties making presentations and operating displays. Making presentations again allowed us to thank these organizations for their support and reaffirm our long relationships. Of course, there are always new people to meet who haven’t heard of CMIC or are not aware of home missions in Canada. This article is a summary of our activities in this regard.

Let me start with the CWL. Joe chose to attend the Ontario Provincial Convention in Ottawa because it also gave him a chance to visit his son who lives nearby. He worked our display and spoke at the plenary session, bringing greetings and offering thanks for support. The display gives us a chance to meet face-to-face for conversations and to distribute information to those who aren’t aware of us.

I attended the Hamilton Diocesan Convention. As always, there was a warm reception with a return to my home diocese. While usually large, the gathering was small and short as pandemic fears continued.  At least it was live and gave me a chance to thank the ladies for their hard work in supporting CMIC and to give an update on mission status. 

It felt good to be out again, presenting to groups who hold our organization close to their hearts. What struck me most was the members’ enthusiasm at being able to gather again.

They are certainly a joyous group, full of energy. I was able to make some tentative dates for presentations with individual Councils.

I saw some of the members again at the August National Convention in Kelowna, BC. At this level, the gathering is about voting and decision-making. I got a few minutes to say thanks and I too operated a display. A lot of diocesan presidents and regional leaders attend the National Convention, so I wanted to make sure I was present for CMIC. I had the opportunity to celebrate Sunday Mass with the ladies and some of their chaplains in the Kelowna Diocese, overseen by Bishop Gregory Bittman.

Turning to the Knights of Columbus, their State Convention met in Niagara Falls. Joe went early to set things up and I went the following day to operate the display. As with the CWL, it was a chance to mingle with these men who know us well.

Bishop Crosby celebrating Mass at the Ontario State Convention with Knights of Columbus and their wives in Niagara Falls

At the banquet, I brought greetings and thanked them for friendship and aid. Because State Deputy Marcel Lemmen is from the Hamilton Diocese, Bishop Crosby acts as the State Chaplain. It was a pleasant opportunity to reunite with my Ordinary.

I was told that some Councils of both organizations have yet to meet in person. I hope that by the time of this writing they are doing so once again. CMIC relies heavily on donations from both groups at various organizational levels. Understandably, CMIC’s revenue has dropped because of pandemic interruptions. This is not a complaint but a report on the current situation.

As noted, these are examples of mixed awareness and stewardship activity. Awareness is associated was introducing our organization. Another example of this is with the Serra Club of Canada. Following the example of their patron, St. Junipero Serra, club members known as Serrans, foster religious vocations and affirm those already in ministry by encouraging and thanking them for their service to the Lord. Clubs organize Altar Servers’ Awards, Vocations Dinners, Prayer Crusades, Retreats, and other programs. There are 20,000 Serrans in 1,100 clubs in forty-six countries. Canada alone has fifteen clubs. Of special interest to CMIC are their prayers for the eighteen current seminarians from nine mission dioceses being funded by CMIC’s Endowment Fund. We offer a bursary of up to $12,000 per year of theology studies. As part of our initiative to raise awareness, we have been speaking at a few clubs in Southern Ontario. Serra International is an organization of lay Catholics, men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, who are dedicated to promoting and fostering vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, and the diaconate. Our talks on the status and challenges of vocations in the missions are of particular interest to them.

In August, the Toronto West Club invited us to their Mass of Installation of Trustees, as seen in the photo. It’s always a warm welcome when I meet Serrans.

A club meeting usually starts with Mass followed by a meal and speaker. While not having a fundraising focus, Serrans offer spiritual works for the good of the Church. Some of them are even CMIC donors. I personally have been aided by Serran spiritual support throughout all my priesthood.

Board Induction ceremony. From left to right_ Vince Citriniti, Freddy Gonsalvez (hidden), Anne Mangione, Gary MacDonald, Joe Gennaro, Paul Gennaro and Felisa Pulumbarit

Joe has lined up meetings with clubs we have yet to encounter. In time, some of their members may become donors, but financial support is only part of what we need. Spiritual support is necessary too for our bishops, missionaries, and seminarians. I think the spiritual focus of gospel proclamation in our organization is crucial and I encourage it as much as I can.