NOBLE SQUARE — The Archdiocese of Chicago is launching a $350 million Catholic education effort dubbed the "To Teach Who Christ Is Campaign."
Among the fundraiser's listed goals are bolstering religious education and Catholic schools programs for kids and teens. The effort also aims to contribute to scholarships, help local parishes and schools with their general needs and create "adult faith formation."
"It's the job of the church in every generation to introduce the world to its savior, to teach who Christ is," said Cardinal Francis George.
The archdiocese already has raised $82.5 million toward its goal, Catholic leaders said in a statement. The campaign will roll out parishwide over the next three years.
The breakdown of the campaign's goals, according to the archdiocese:
• $150 million for scholarships, which the Catholic organization expects will generate even more money annually for needs-based scholarships.
• $8 million for Catholic schools programs.
• $10 million for religious education programs.
• $2 million for "Next Generation" religious education, which the archdiocese said will be used to "pilot new approaches to religious education and faith formation"
• $30 million to address capital needs in Catholic schools and related parish facilities.
• $150 million to address parish-specific needs. The archdiocese said a total parish-based campaign goal is $250 million, with 60 percent ($150 million) in the hands of parishes and 40 percent ($100 million) for the archdiocese to distribute in various parishes, particularly those serving poorer areas.
Both clergy and laypeople at the event touted Catholic schools — which have over 42,000 students in Chicago — as a viable alternative to public education that needs more help
"We have tremendous evidence that this school system is worth saving by so many dimensions," said James Perry, a member of the archdiocese's school board. "Not only is it the future of our catholic community, it's also an alternative to the public school system."
George said the campaign, which will unfold over three years, can help protect the Catholic school institution in the Chicago area.
"We try to create communities of love where children are safe to learn and therefore free to learn," George said. "Our schools, I think, are the freest academic institutions in the world because you can talk about anything there, and they try to help young children and older children to be responsible with their freedom."