The Archdiocese of Boston announced the launch of the 2005 Annual Catholic Appeal campaign “Our Faith at Work” on April 25 at St. Patrick School in Roxbury. This year’s appeal begins the weekend of April 30-May 1 with a goal of $12 million — $1.5 million higher last year’s.
“The appeal is indeed the financial lifeblood of our archdiocese. That is why this once-a-year request is so critical,” Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley said at the kick-off event.
“We have chosen the message of our 2005 Catholic Appeal, ‘Our Faith at Work,’ to reflect upon how much good we accomplish when we use our faith to serve God and each other,” he said. “I encourage Catholics throughout the archdiocese to participate in this opportunity to put faith into action and make possible the programs that serve so many in our community.”
The theme reminds Catholics that they are called to be active and responsible, putting their great gift of faith to work every day in order to help others. It should also remind them that they are part of a community of faith, greater than their individual selves, he said.
“Look around at what Catholics are accomplishing together, and you will see evidence of our faith at work. It is what we witness when children discover the Word of Christ in a religious education class, when elders feel loved and cared for in our community centers, when new peoples find a welcoming smile and helping hand as they adjust to a new and better life,” he said.
As an added incentive for parishioners, this year’s appeal will include a “parish share” component. A parish that exceeds its appeal goal will receive back 25 percent of the amount collected above the goal at the end of the appeal campaign. If the appeal as a whole surpasses its goal, 25 percent of the amount raised above the goal will be distributed among those parishes that raised more than their individual goals. This will increase parish revenue as well as help increase support for ministries funded by the appeal, according to Damien DeVasto, director of the Annual Catholic Appeal
Speaking to The Pilot after the press conference, DeVasto explained that parish appeal goals have been completely reevaluated for the 2005 campaign. Earlier this year, along with a letter from the archbishop announcing the appeal, each parish received a two-page letter from Devasto laying out the formula used to establish the parish’s new goal. This, DeVasto said, was done in keeping with the archdiocese’s commitment to transparency and equity in financial matters.
The new formula, which is based on a five-year average of parish revenues as a percentage of total giving in all parishes during the same time period, results in goals which more accurately reflects the financial reality of many parishes, he said.
In 2004 the archdiocese raised nearly $11 million, exceeding the goal of $10.5 million. Over 54,000 individuals participated in the appeal, an increase of 20 percent over 2003. This increase included new contributors as well as donors who had stepped back from giving since 2001, according to DeVasto.
At the appeal launch, the archbishop expressed gratitude to those who have supported the archdiocese in the last year.
“I am so pleased with the heartwarming response to the 2004 appeal. Our having exceeded last year’s goal is a tribute to parishioners across the archdiocese who have committed to putting their faith to work. This support is an expression of optimism and hope as we move forward in our archdiocese,” he said.
Although Archbishop O’Malley spoke about the progress the appeal has made, he acknowledged that the archdiocese still has a long way to go toward full recovery. However, he said the archdiocese is moving in the right direction and he has hope that there are “brighter days ahead.”
Craig and Nancy Gibson, North Region chairs for the appeal, spoke about the effect the clergy abuse scandal had on their faith when it broke in 2001. They said they had a choice to either pause from their involvement or become even more involved. They decided to take on leadership rolls in order to live and witness to the faith and help rebuild the archdiocese.
“When the day is done, it’s our archdiocese,” said Craig Gibson.
The annual appeal funds over 80 programs, services, agencies and ministries throughout the archdiocese, including campus ministry, Catholic Charities, the Vocation Office, Deaf Apostolate, Ethnic Apostolates, Family Life Office and Youth Ministry Office.
Father Walter J. Waldron, pastor at St. Patrick’s, said the parish and school could not survive without help from the archdiocese. The Catholic Appeal helps make St. Patrick’s a welcoming community for immigrants who leave behind everything familiar to them. The Church is able to be a constant in their lives by offering Masses in their language, cultural celebrations and help from the Ethnic Apostolate.
The appeal also keeps the school accessible to immigrants who value Catholic education. Many parents work two jobs and still could not afford to send their children to Catholic school without assistance, he said.
Because of the appeal, parents are able to send their children to a safe environment with “unashamedly Catholic values,” he added.
“Whatever help and support we can give is my joy,” Father Waldron said. “We could not do it alone.”