Priest Receives Surprise Donation: $100,000 Check
12/30/2005 4:28:02 PM
@ Kathleen Lavey - Lansing State Journal
Eaton Rapids A Lansing area priest's yearlong campaign to raise $100,000 to build a church in tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka got a boost as it nears an end: a $100,000 check from an Ohio man.
"It took me half-a-day to get over the shock," said the Rev. Bennett Constantine of St. Peter Catholic Church in Eaton Rapids. He found the check as he opened Christmas cards. "I thought it was a thousand-dollar check and said, 'Wait. There are more zeroes there.' "
The donor requested that he remain anonymous.
Constantine, a native of Sri Lanka, once led another St. Peter Catholic Church - in Mullaittivu, on Sri Lanka's northeast coast. The church and village were destroyed by the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami.
He visited Mullaittivu in January, carrying $37,000 in aid donated by his parishioners and others in mid-Michigan.
When he returned home, Constantine launched the plan to raise $100,000 for the church, then expanded it to include two schools at $10,000 each. With donations still coming in, he now expects total fundraising to top $200,000.
"It's absolutely wonderful. Generosity comes in all different sizes," said Barbara Streed of Eaton Rapids, who attends St. Peter and is in a mothers' group that raised $10,000 to build a school.
"That will certainly pave the way for lots of opportunities for people over there."
Bricks and windows already are being built for the school in Mullaittivu, and plans have been drawn for the church.
Constantine, who leaves for Sri Lanka on Jan. 17 to discuss the projects' progress, is excited about adding homes to the mix.
"If it costs $3,000 for a house, I can build, easily, 20 houses," he said