PITTSBURGH — The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is undertaking a $125 million fundraising campaign of which $2 million is earmarked for the new Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School being built in Cranberry Township.
An additional $8 million of those funds will be held in reserve if needed for debt service for the school.
The cost of the high school is about $70 million, according to a diocese website. The 180,000-square-foot building is expected to house more than 1,000 students on 71 acres along Route 228 in Cranberry.
Groundbreaking for the new school took place in June.
The Rev. Lawrence DiNardo, chairman of the capital fundraising campaign, said the goal of raising $125 million has almost nothing to do with funding the new high school.
Rather, diocese officials have borrowed most of the money needed for the school and will repay those funds over 30 years.
“A significant portion of the North Catholic project is borrowing with the intent over the next 30 years to pay back that borrowing,” DiNardo said.
He added that the school is on pace to open for the 2014-15 school year, and that diocese officials are pleased with the pace of construction.
“Anyone driving past the site can see all the movement of the dirt and other construction going on there,” he said. “It's great to see the project moving forward.”
The church went public with the fundraising effort in part because officials wanted to address concerns that it was meant to fund the new high school.
According to diocese officials, 40 percent of the $125 million will go back to the parishes that helped raise the funds.
The diocese already has $25 million in commitments from larger donors and nine of its 204 parishes will participate in a pilot program for congregations to raise extra money starting in January.
The other parishes will be phased into the program over two years and will have five years to raise the money.
Much of the money will be spent on outreach, for example, $1.5 million to reach non-practicing Catholics, $1 million for college campus ministries, $7 million for grants to help isolated and needy parishes, and $2 million to improve programs for autistic students at parish schools.
The money raised will go into a tax-exempt fund called Our Church Alive, separate from diocesan coffers. The money will be collected by having parishes try to raise 175 percent of their normal collection during the campaign.
The diocese has never done such a fundraising appeal, though other U.S. dioceses have.
The diocese has about 635,000 Catholics in six counties. It recently cut staff and other costs to balance its $21 million annual budget.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.