Almost at goal, Catholic Appeal makes final push

Having raised over 93 percent of its baseline target of $9 million, the Catholic Foundation has announced that it will make a final push for the 2003 Annual Catholic Appeal in every parish of the archdiocese the weekend of Nov. 22.

The Catholic Foundation, the organization that runs the appeal, has declared this coming weekend “Together for Our Works” weekend throughout the archdiocese.

The appeal traditionally takes place in the spring, but, because a number of parishes were involved in the Promise for Tomorrow campaign during that time, this year’s appeal was split into two phases, spring and fall. “Together for Our Works” weekend will unite the parishes that participated in the spring phase with those that participated in the fall phase in a final effort to reach the appeal goal, said Damien DeVasto, who runs the Annual Catholic Appeal.

"This weekend is an opportunity for all parishioners across the archdiocese to share in the vision of the appeal," explained DeVasto. "It has come out the past two years in different time frames both spring and fall and ultimately this provides an opportunity for pastors and for Archbishop Seán [O'Malley] and for all parishes to come to together as one in this final effort for the work of the Church."

The Catholic Foundation has asked pastors throughout the archdiocese “to bring the message one more time to thank those who have already given and to ask those who haven’t yet given to consider giving” to the appeal, said Elizabeth Jennings-White, director of development communications for the Catholic Foundation.

According to Jennings-White, the foundation has provided pastors with bulletin inserts, prayer cards and other materials highlighting the message of the appeal.

DeVasto stressed that the role of the pastor is significant in helping parishioners to recognize “the importance of supporting the local Church” of the Archdiocese of Boston “as well as the benefits that each individual parish receives from the appeal or from the archdiocese directly.”

"[The pastor's] voice is essential in bringing home the vital nature of the appeal to the work of the Church," he continued.

A letter from Archbishop O’Malley will also be sent to parishioners who have given to the appeal in the past but have yet to give this year, said DeVasto.

In his letter, Archbishop O’Malley wrote that during his short time as archbishop he has “sensed a deep and profound love of God and faith in His love for us” amongst those in the archdiocese.

"This fills me with great joy for our future," the archbishop said in his letter. “There is much we can do together.” Among the things he mentions are building a better community, strengthening parishes, supporting Catholic education and helping the poor and needy.

"When we join together in One Church to support our Annual Catholic Appeal, we take part in the Many Works offered us — the many opportunities God has given us to share in His mission,” the letter said.

"Together we face many challenges," the letter continued. "To move forward your help is needed. Our works, that bring God's grace to so many, are at the core of our faith and depend on your support. Please be as generous as you can."

DeVasto and the foundation are “encouraged” by the results of the appeal to date and grateful to all those who have given. As of Nov. 14, the appeal was slightly more than $600,000 shy of its $9 million baseline target. The number of donors thus far — 40,000 — has surpassed the full number of donors in all of 2002.

"We are running ahead of what our projections were; however, it must be recognized that we need to gain ground on some of the losses that we as a Church have taken over the past years because of the challenges and all that's gone on in the archdiocese," stated DeVasto.

However, despite the setbacks to the appeal caused by the sexual abuse crisis and the poor economy, DeVasto said that the services funded by the appeal have continued. The success of the appeal is critical to ensuring that these services can be provided and can thrive, he said.

Last year the appeal, formerly called the Cardinal’s Appeal, raised close to $9 million compared to the $14 million raised in 2001.

DeVasto stressed that the while the $9 million baseline target is the budgetary goal of the appeal, it only covers the “bare-bones of the budget of the archdiocese.”

"We certainly need and can use more funds and support to replenish those things that have been cut back these years," he continued. "Countless people across the archdiocese depend upon the Catholic Church for needed services and despite all that has gone on that work has continued and must."