Campus ministry highlighted at appeal kick-off

Kicking off the fall phase of the Annual Catholic Appeal, Archbishop Seán O’Malley highlighted the “thriving” campus ministry at Boston University, which is funded in part by the appeal.

Convening in the lower level of Boston University’s Marsh Chapel, Oct. 1, Damien DeVasto, director of the Annual Catholic Appeal, called the fundraising effort “the financial lifeblood for the work of the Church.” The appeal supports more than 80 agencies, ministries and programs serving both Catholics and non-Catholics.

Traditionally, appeal fundraising takes place in the spring, however, a number of parishes were involved in The Promise for Tomorrow capital campaign during that period, so the appeal was scheduled in two phases.

The spring phase began May 3 with 263 parishes participating, 36 of which chose to participate simultaneously in the appeal and the capital campaign. The remaining 95 parishes chose to delay participation in the appeal until last weekend.

The fundraising target of this year’s appeal is $9 million. Thus far, over 30,000 donors have contributed more than $6.7 million, which DeVasto called a “remarkable achievement.”

The appeal is $725,000 ahead of where it was at the same point last year. Approximately 11,450 of this year’s donors are new or “re-engaged” contributors who did not contribute last year, adding $1.68 million to the appeal.

Archbishop O’Malley encouraged Catholics to contribute to “the wonderful activities that are part of the Catholic Appeal” and was hopeful that many of those who declined giving last year because of the scandal would give again.

The archbishop reiterated that “monies given are used only for ministries and services that are advertised in [appeal] literature” and that none is used for “the settlement or for the problems the Church has had because of the sexual abuse crisis.”

He noted that many have continued to be financially supportive throughout the crisis. Boston Catholic Television and Blessed John XXIII National Seminary recently hosted record-breaking fundraisers. “There are signs of hope,” the archbishop said. “And we are encouraged by that.”

For their part, Boston’s Catholics have been encouraged by the archbishop’s appointment and his efforts to resolve the clergy abuse scandal. According to DeVasto, the archdiocese “received more gifts over the summer than were ever received in one period.” The appeal office has also received letters applauding “the positive movement of the Church” since Bishop Richard Lennon and the archbishop assumed leadership, he continued.

Last year the appeal raised $9 million, compared to $14 million raised in 2001. According to DeVasto the target of this year’s appeal was set at $9 million, taking into account the impact of the crisis coupled with the weak economy.

In launching this second phase of its annual fundraiser, the archdiocese chose to highlight B.U.’s campus ministry as one of the programs that benefits froml funding. There are 21 active campus ministry programs/ministries in the archdiocese that receive $500,000 from the appeal.

Archbishop O’Malley spoke of the “thriving Catholic community” at B.U., which hosts three standing-room only Masses on Sundays.

"There is an energy in campus ministry that is very exciting," he said. "To see young people who are beginning to form their own personal philosophy on life and God is a part of that."

Father Richard Clancy, archdiocesan director of Campus Ministry, praised the active Catholic students at B.U. and campus ministry as a whole. Father Clancy stated that campus ministry gives students an “opportunity to put their faith in action in the local communities” through service programs.

"They are not merely the future of the Church," he said. "They are very much the present Church."

Clinton Reed, a senior at B.U., has been involved in campus ministry all four years and is a member of the student pastoral council. Reed recalled a recent service trip to Tanzania where he witnessed severe poverty, but spiritual strength in the people he encountered.

"I received so much more from that trip than I gave," he said, speaking of the witness of Christ he saw in the people and the graces he received. "I have a friendship with the Lord."