Catholic Appeal surpasses goal

BRIGHTON -- The 2006 Annual Catholic Appeal raised $13.8 million, exceeding its goal by nearly $1 million and attracting thousands of new donors, the Archdiocese of Boston was scheduled to announce on March 1.

Damien DeVasto, director of the Catholic Appeal, told The Pilot that the 2006 fundraising results represent a 15 percent increase over the previous year. Over the past four years support has increased over 55 percent, he added.

“This is wonderful news,” he said. “A 15 percent increase over the 2005 campaign is just exceptional, and is an emblem of a sense of collective spirit of our Catholic family.”

The success of the campaign, last year held under the theme “Our Faith, Our Mission,” would not be possible without the collaboration of Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, pastors, parishioners and men and women religious, he said. DeVasto praised the leadership of Cardinal O’Malley and pastors who inspired such wide participation.

“We really want to give the utmost appreciation to parishioners who have provided this support,” he added. “Their support is so vital to the mission that we all share.”

The appeal is an important opportunity for parishioners to participate in the work of the wider Church. This year the campaign attracted almost 50,000 donors, including over 2,000 new donors and over 2,000 past donors who did not participate in the 2005 appeal.

Msgr. Francis V. Strahan, pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Framingham, said in the archdiocesan statement, “That over 50,000 Catholics in every parish across the archdiocese came together to support our shared mission by way of the Catholic Appeal is a tremendous show of unity, family and the care that Catholics have for those in need.”

Many Catholics in the archdiocese have recognized that recent years have been full of challenge and change and have continued to support their archdiocese. The success of the appeal speaks to the progress the archdiocese has made, DeVasto said.

“They recognize the value that the ministry, services and programs have to Catholics and non-Catholics alike throughout eastern Massachusetts,” he said. “In some way, shape of form, the work of the archdiocese touches all of our lives.”

Craig Gibson, a regional leadership chair for the appeal, agreed and told The Pilot that the local Catholic community has cast a vote of confidence in the future of the archdiocese.

“In this post-scandal environment the appeal has made up more than 50 percent from its peak to its trough,” he said. “It speaks of great confidence and it leaves us very well prepared for the years ahead.”

“I think the results we see this year are the result of great staff leadership, pastors really taking a more active role, lay involvement, and the cardinal putting his full energy behind the appeal,” he added. “It’s nice to have such a roaring success story in front of us.”

The appeal is the primary source of support for archdiocesan operations and funds programs including religious education, Catholic schools, youth ministry, services for the elderly, training for laity and clergy, spiritual development programs in parishes and parishes that need funding for operations.

“The response from Catholics across the archdiocese expresses heartfelt support for the programs and services that allow us to put our faith into action,” said Cardinal O’Malley in the archdiocesan statement. “It demonstrates parishioners are actively living their faith, that they are committed to helping meet the needs of our Catholic family and all who turn to us for assistance.”

“To all who gave so generously, thank you,” he added. “Your support of the Catholic Appeal sustains the vital work we do today and establishes the foundation, the way forward.”