Catholic Appeal kicks-off

BRAINTREE -- Last weekend the Archdiocese of Boston launched its principle annual fundraiser with the goal of matching last year’s success.

At a March 5 press conference at its Braintree Pastoral Center, the archdiocese officially announced the launch of the 2010 Catholic Appeal, “Called to Love and Share.”

The Catholic Appeal is the annual fundraiser that supports the central ministries of the archdiocese. The drive kicked off in all but six of the archdiocese’s 291 parishes the weekend of March 6 and 7. At weekend Masses pastors had the option of presenting a pre-recorded homily by Cardinal O’Malley focusing on the appeal.

Speakers at the press conference included Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, Chancellor Jim McDonough, Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization Janet Benestad, and Secretary for Institutional Advancement Scot Landry.

Landry said the archdiocese did not set a specific goal this year because of other current fundraising initiatives. He said the archdiocese is in the beginning stages of implementing a new method for parishes to financially support central ministries, as well as drives to shore up the clergy pension fund and improve Catholic schools.

In each of the last two years, the Catholic Appeal raised $15.1 million, exceeding its $15 million goal.

In his remarks, Cardinal O’Malley pointed to the improved financial situation in the archdiocese since he became archbishop in 2003. He said the diocese was in “financial free fall” then, citing a $15 million deficit and failing pension funds.

“We have come a long way in stabilizing the economic situation,” he said.

Since Cardinal O’Malley’s installation as archbishop, the Catholic Appeal has increased by 44 percent and is up nearly 75 percent since 2002.

The appeal accounts for roughly 74 percent of the archdiocese’s central operating fund budget, according to 2010 Catholic Appeal literature. The remaining sources of revenue for the archdiocese come from special collections, transfers, restricted contributions, investment and interest, and gifts and bequests.

Gifts to the Catholic Appeal fund over 50 ministries, programs, and offices, including many services for parishes and schools. Forty-five percent of gifts received support specialized services to parishes, 23 percent funds education, formation and evangelization efforts, 13 percent underwrites ministries of the cardinal and the regional bishops, 11 finances general and operational services, and 8 percent goes to mailings, materials and management of the Catholic Appeal.

“The Catholic Appeal is the main source of funding for the work of the central ministries of the Archdiocese of Boston,” Landry said. “In many ways, the Catholic Appeal is to our archdiocese what the offertory collection is to our parishes or what an annual fund is to universities. Through the Catholic Appeal, Catholics in our 291 parishes come together as one Church to pass on our faith, care for those in need, and gather to pray and worship together.”