Dear Family of the Sacred Heart,
Fifteen years ago, under the direction of then provincial Sister Kathleen Hughes and her provincial team, another journey began with the call to Sister Shirley Miller to open our yet to be formed mission advancement office. Shirley, in her 35 years of experience in Sacred Heart schools, in teaching, administration and fundraising, has demonstrated over these many years her skill as an administrator, spokesperson and fundraiser.
In January 2004, the provincial team, with the expert guidance of financial and investment consultants and the expertise of mission advancement consultant, Deacon Larry Vaclavik, reviewed the serious financial challenges facing the Society. They created a long-range plan for reducing expenses and increasing income to help provide a future for the Society in the United States Province. This plan included an annual appeal program; a $40,000,000 In Mission for Life campaign for elder care, mission and ministries; and the Cor Unum Legacy Society.
In June 2004, with the generous assistance of the Associated Alumnae/i of the Sacred Heart leadership, we launched our first annual appeal, reaching out to 40,000+ alums explaining our financial situation and our needs for the future. The response was exceptionally generous. The annual appeal continues to reach its goal every year.
In 2007, after conducting a national feasibility study, we launched our national In Mission for Life campaign that concluded in 2013, exceeding its goal by $7,000,000. During this time Shirley, with the help of the National Development Board and the Campaign Executive Committee, comprised of RSCJ and lay men and women leaders, traveled throughout the country to meet with individuals and groups to tell the story of the Society, today, and our hopes for the future.
In 2009, we launched the Cor Unum Legacy Society inviting thousands of individuals to consider remembering the Society in their estate plans. We have received hundreds of realized bequests and commitments of future bequests. These gifts from the annual appeal, the Cor Unum Legacy Society and the In Mission for Life campaign have given new life to the Society.
In 2007, Anne Wiehagen joined the advancement office as mission advancement associate. She previously worked with the Ursuline Sisters-Central Province for five years as director of development. She earned her CFRE (Certification of Fund Raising Executives) in 2004. Anne helped to shepherd us through the In Mission for Life campaign years from 2007-2013. Her commitment to the Society’s mission, her knowledge of our benefactors and her willingness to get involved at every level has made this great mission advancement effort possible. Many of you know Anne, and I know you have great confidence in her commitment to the Society’s mission and the importance of your journey with us.
In 2014, Eliza Lynn joined the advancement team as database manager and assistant. Her skill, her expertise, her youth and knowledge of younger people, and her energy and her passion for the Society’s mission have helped bring us to a new level of relationship and of the integrity of our data and creativity in our program.
In 2018, Ben Kuzemka joined the advancement team. Ben’s experience and expertise, his gentle presence, his “care-full” work, his sense of teamwork, the depth and quality of his research, and his willingness to take on any project has rounded out our advancement team.
We are overjoyed to have an advancement team that is poised to move the Society’s mission advancement efforts into the future. With all this in place, we are able to engage in some strategic shifts. Shirley Miller will shift from full-time advancement director to senior advisor. She will take a month off for an extended retreat and some vacation time. She will return to the mission advancement office in March on a part-time basis.
At the same time, we are delighted to announce that Anne Wiehagen has accepted the position of director of mission advancement, Eliza Lynn will become mission advancement manager, and Ben Kuzemka will be mission advancement assistant. The office is well staffed with this great trinity, along with ongoing consultation with Deacon Larry Vaclavik, to continue the ministry of mission advancement and Fidelity to Relationships – our theme song. Anne, Eliza and Ben are excited to assume their new roles and to support one another. Let us all pray for their new beginnings.
I share the heartfelt gratitude of so many members of our greater Sacred Heart family for Shirley’s amazing work over these 15 years. She has been our champion, our leader. Through her efforts, her relationships and her prayers, we have received grace upon grace. Let us thank God for the service Shirley has been to all of us.
We have created a strong mission advancement program over these many years. But none of this would have been possible without the enduring support of our benefactors – your love for and faith in the Society’s mission, your care for our elderly sisters, and the personal sacrifices you have made to help us create a future full of hope. Thank you for all you have done and for all you will continue to do.
Let us pray for each other and the journeys we are on as we all continue to discover and make known the love of the Heart of God in our world. Gratefully,
Sheila Hammond, RSCJProvincial, United States-Canada Province