Catholic Appeal kickoff

BOSTON — The Catholic Appeal will launch its 2006 campaign, “Our Faith, Our Mission,” with its highest goal in four years of $13 million this weekend, May 6-7.

The annual fundraising effort takes on particular significance in light of the recent release of the 2005 Financial Transparency Report, which revealed an ongoing deficit of $46 million in the archdiocese. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley characterized the archdiocese’s financial condition as “dire” at a press conference April 19.

In a letter to be sent to all parishes for the appeal launch, Cardinal O’Malley said that the transparency report findings make this years appeal “especially important.”

“There is much work to do together in revitalizing our community,” he wrote. “With your donation to our Catholic Appeal we can build a better community. We can strengthen our parishes. We can support the education of our children. We can encourage and train those who are called to ministry. We can answer those whose physical, emotional and spiritual needs cry out to us for mercy, compassion and companionship.”

Through the work funded by the appeal, the archdiocese helps fulfill Christ’s mission, he said.

“There is much hope and promise ahead,” he said. “We are at an important crossroads in the life of our archdiocese. We are moving forward to build a stronger future. To do this, your assistance is essential.”

The success of the appeal is integrally connected to the work of the archdiocese, said Damien DeVasto, director of the appeal.

“The Catholic Appeal is the mainstay of the archdiocese’s operating budget,” he said. “It provides funds that are critical to the ministry services, programs and apostolates that the archdiocese operates throughout eastern Massachusetts. These essential programs enrich the lives of tens of thousands of people on a daily basis, tens of thousands of people of all faiths.”

The transparency report has highlighted the financial challenges faced by the archdiocese and recognized that the faithful need to move forward together in order to reach a brighter future, he added.

“There is a recognition that the Catholic Appeal is central for that forward movement,” he said.

The important role that the appeal plays in the work of the archdiocese is reflected in the 2005 theme, “Our Faith, Our Mission,” DeVasto said.

“The statement speaks to our collective spirit as a Catholic community and the important role that the Catholic Appeal plays in the work that we do as an archdiocese,” he said. “We all recognize a pivotal time for our archdiocese, a time of great opportunity.”

DeVasto also noted the gains the appeal has made over the last four years, saying that it has increased and met its goal each year since 2003. In 2002 the appeal collected $8.8 million, in 2003 $10.4 million, in 2004 $11 million and in 2005 $12 million. This steady rise has allowed the increase of this year’s goal to $13 million.

DeVasto cited the leadership of Cardinal O’Malley and vicar general Bishop Richard G. Lennon, as well as the support of many other Catholics as the reason for the 2005 appeal’s success.

“Thanks to the leadership of pastors across the archdiocese, lay leaders who assisted in bringing forward the mission of our appeal and the participation of almost 50,000 parishioners, the Catholic Appeal was able to reach and exceed its $12 million goal,” he said. “The pastors are essential in this, and their leadership is truly critical to the success of our appeal.”

In 2005 the appeal rolled out its “parish share” program through which parishes receive proceeds back from the appeal when they exceed their parish goal, he added.

“In 2005 we introduced new goal setting methodology throughout the archdiocese,” he added. “The aims were equity and transparency, and also with it a share component that allows parishes not only to assist in the work of the archdiocese as a whole but, should they reach and exceed their goal, to provide some revenue for their individual parish needs.”

This weekend will mark the kickoff for the 2006 campaign, which will call everyone’s attention to the need in the archdiocese and allow them the opportunity to help out, he said.

“It’s one of the most important opportunities for parishioners to participate in the work of the wider Church and to demonstrate their support for it,” he added.