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Mission Advancement for a Burgeoning Diocese with Ashley Linville

By October 26, 2022podcast, Steier Tips

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In the Gospel, Jesus fed 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish. After the crowd was satisfied, there were 12 wicker baskets left over. God provides the abundance. In each episode of this podcast, we will explore, with pastoral leaders and development professionals, all the many ways God meets the spiritual and temporal needs of our parish communities, our Catholic schools and the diocesan church. And not only meets those needs but provides in abundance.

The eighth episode of the podcast is Mission Advancement for a Burgeoning Diocese.

Ashley Linville looks at his life in gratitude for how God has opened doors and led him on new pathways. His strong Baptist faith has helped him prayerfully discern “the still, small voice” of God, and to respond with trust to opportunities that sometimes came as a surprise. Though stressful, stepping forward in faith leads to the tell-tale sign of God’s presence: peace. Ashley presides over fundraising ministry in a young but burgeoning diocese. The 185-year-old Diocese of Nashville (established in 1837) in Middle Tennessee is not home to a large Catholic population. Ashley considers his own Baptist faith journey to be an advantage to understanding the many people in the diocese who are converts, and the many more in the community who are not Catholic in their Christian discipleship. Though small comparatively speaking, the Catholic population is nonetheless vibrant and growing. Transplants from northern and more traditionally Catholic areas, Christians who’ve entered the full communion of the Church, and a growing Hispanic community have led to an ever-increasing number of the Catholic faithful. The diocesan mission statement, “Living and proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, welcoming all,” is fitting.

There is so much promise for tomorrow in the diocese. What some may seem as challenges that accompany such rapid growth, Ashley and the diocese embrace as opportunities. “Some people get comfortable with the status quo,” Ashley notes. Large fundraising goals can be scary to those who are accustomed to how things have been. But that hasn’t stopped the diocese from advancing. In the four years Ashley’s been with the diocese, the annual appeal goal has grown from $2.4 million to $3 million. Last year the diocese opened two new parishes, the first Catholic Mass was celebrated in one of the counties comprising the diocese, a new parish south of Nashville is blossoming and will serve as the site for a new diocesan school to open in just under two years. “People are excited about the growth,” Ashley said, and have demonstrated amazing support for the diocesan-wide A Legacy of Faith, Hope and Love capital campaign. The $50 million effort is aimed at funding priorities that Bishop Spalding heard on his “look, listen, & learn” tour upon arriving as bishop. He heard over and over… “we need strong vocations, good priests, strong Catholic education and opportunities for poor families, and help for others in the community who are struggling to thrive and survive.”

Development work at first caused Ashley a lot of anxiety as he didn’t like asking for money. He’s learned, however, that it’s about relationships and taking the time to share with others what the need is. “That’s what we’ve done in this campaign.” And the effects of people’s generosity bears fruit for generations to come. “It’s like a shade tree. We have a lot of maple trees in Tennessee but a maple sapling is only 4 to 6 inches high; we can’t sit under its shade. But in 50 years, the maple saplings we’re planting today will provide shade for our children and grandchildren. They can sit in the shade and bask in the faith.” Ashley doesn’t think of donors as donors but as friends, fellow disciples. Ashley thinks of his work as a way to live by a scriptural text he says is his guiding principle: “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me, insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Guest: Ashley Linville
Title: Director of Stewardship & Development, Diocese of Nashville

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