Keeping the Faith
So Rechtiene went back to Savannah and presented her idea to the cathedral’s Monsignor Williams O’Neill.
“He seemed receptive,” Rechtiene says. “Then he went over to his bookcase and pulled out an ornament that the bishop had given him of a stained glass window at Belmont Abbey [College in Charlotte, N.C.]”
As it turns out, the bishop was thinking of something along those lines as well, and when Rechtiene approached the monsignor with a similar idea, he replied, “Well, if you think you can sell them …”
“That’s what he always says [about a fundraising idea],” Rechtiene says. “He said that it’s a great idea. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Once she got the go-ahead, Rechtiene took a closer look at the ornament the monsignor had given her and saw a sticker on the back that said it was made by decorative keepsake maker ChemArt. So she called ChemArt and discussed what she had in mind. The Savannah Cathedral wanted an ornament made of its stained glass center window depicting its patron saint, Saint John the Baptist, baptizing Jesus Christ. The idea was to raise money in general for the cathedral, helping it pay off the interest debt from its renovation and using any other funds to help with the upkeep of the building. And then, if the ornament fundraiser turned out to be successful, the Savannah Cathedral could start a series of different ornaments, not just a one-time or one-item project.
After hammering out the details of price and quantity, Rechtiene ordered the first batch in 2007, and for the first two years the cathedral set aside one Sunday just before Christmas as Ornament Sunday. The church took pre-orders from forms inserted into the parish bulletin several weeks in advance, as well as orders at the door of each mass on Ornament Sunday, which took place the first week of Advent. Rechtiene also made printed announcements and signs personally as the coordinator of the ornament project, and a small ad was taken out in the local Catholic newspaper, the Southern Cross.