Spotlight on the Diocesan Development Office
Jane Lagger recently started as the diocese’s new chief development officer. And what a time to begin. She began the week before the pandemic temporarily closed offices at the diocese in March. Her department is responsible for the Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal (CMAA), donor relations and planned giving.
Jane previously worked for the diocese for nine years as the director of the Catholic Education Foundation. She left in 2015 to become the director of annual giving and major gifts at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, during which she was the point person for the school’s largest and most successful capital campaign in its history. Carlos Briceño recently interviewed her about her hopes and vision for the Development Office.
What led you back to working for the diocese?
My faith has always been the center point of my life; it first led me to the Catholic Education Foundation and most recently to Providence Catholic High School. When the opportunity arose, I felt a strong calling to return to the diocese and serve its people. It is an inspiration to work with those who seek to spread the Gospel message.
What is your vision for your office?
My vision is that we connect the loyal donors to the CMAA with the recipients of their generosity. I would love for parishioners to have a greater understanding of the good work that is accomplished through the diocesan ministries as a result of their gifts.
There are unique aspects of the diocese that the CMAA donors fund, like the education of seminarians and deacons. My vision is that the benefactors of the diocese know our true gratitude and that we effectively communicate how their gifts make an impact.
How does your faith help you in dealing with the pandemic – and especially in dealing with worrying how you are going to raise money during these difficult days?
The buzz phrases, like “unprecedented times” or “uncertain times,” are exhausting to me at this point. The people of the Diocese of Joliet are overwhelmingly generous. They have good hearts and a dedication to sharing the Gospel message and helping others. We will do our best to continue to fundraise and communicate our mission. Ultimately, it is in God’s hands, and, although it may sound contrite, I know the Lord will provide; my faith tells me so. I have witnessed the Lord at work and trust that He has a master plan. Do I worry? Yes. Do I pray for wisdom and strength and inspiration? Yes, even more so.
How has the fundraising been going during these uncertain times?
We have a wonderful team who have been very dedicated to working through the pandemic and our office closing. In fact, like many, I know, they worked many more hours from home than in the office. We were lucky that our appeal kicked off prior to the pandemic, so the impact was not as significant as it could have been. We were lucky with the timing.
We are staying in touch with our donors and have found that many are in fact increasing their donations in order to provide more assistance to those in need. The need is greater than ever this year, so I am thankful for the gifts that we have received and pray that their generosity continues in the months to come.
How important a part does prayer play in your efforts in the Development Office?
Prayer fortifies us by providing comfort, direction and inspiration in our offices. As a staff, we begin each meeting with prayer. Each day at noon, we pray the Angelus and the prayer of St. Michael together in the common area. And each week, we celebrate Mass together in the Xavier Chapel, following social distancing guidelines, of course. It really brings our faith —our primary focus— front and center.
Each fall, we have a mailing where we ask for parishioners’ prayer intentions. It gives me great joy to let people know that their intentions are being prayed for by Bishop [Richard] Pates, the diocesan apostolic administrator.
Looking to volunteer your skills? The Development Office for the Diocese of Joliet is actively seeking board members with backgrounds in development, sales, marketing or law. Contact Jane Lagger at jlagger@dioceseofjoliet for more information.