ACA looks to year of recovery & renewal

BRIDGEPORT—“Arise” is the theme for the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA), which launches in all parishes on February 27-28, as the diocese looks toward renewal in the coming year.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said he chose the “Arise” theme in gratitude for the many faithful who have truly risen to meet the challenge of caring for others during the pandemic and because he’s hopeful about the new year.

“As I’ve prayed and continue to pray for you and for your loved ones and for the mission of our Church, there is a single word that the Lord has put on my heart, and that word is, ‘Arise,’” he said.

In the new “Arise” ACA video, the bishop said that during the past year “our hearts were troubled, or our families threatened, and our neighbors and friends have suffered at the hands of this invisible menace in our midst.”

“Yet we have come together in hope and encouragement for one another and for our sisters and brothers in need and we have made the Lord’s presence real to them and to one another,” he said.

Bishop Caggiano said with vaccine distribution and the state’s recent easing of restrictions on church capacity and other activities, “We’ve come to a moment when we can dare to hope that we begin to see the first lights of a new dawn.”

The bishop said he is particularly concerned for “ those in our midst whom this pandemic has ravaged so deeply.” And he urged the faithful, “to not leave anyone behind, most especially those who are suffering, have lost homes, have lost jobs and even have lost hope.”

Joe Gallagher, Chief Development Office of the diocese, said this year’s goal is $8.1 million, 10 percent less than last year due to the success of the We Stand With Christ Capital Campaign and will allow the diocese to maintain works of charity, pastoral ministry, education and catechesis.

“Last year in the midst of a historic health crisis, we were blessed by the extraordinary generosity of the faithful throughout the diocese, the sacrificial work of our campaign co-chairs and the leadership of Bishop Caggiano, who has been tireless in his advocacy for serving the most vulnerable among us while celebrating our faith in a time of great hardship and anxiety,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher said that those who gave to the Annual Appeal last year helped to bring the mercy of Christ to people who suffered immediately from job loss, hunger and psychological stress as a result of the pandemic, and who needed immediate help through Catholic Charities and other ministries.

The Emergency ACA also helped churches and schools to safely remain open while also supporting online Masses, remote learning when necessary and other emergency measures.

Many also stepped up through the worst months of the pandemic and supported their parishes and the diocese in unprecedented ways in addition to making their gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal.

While a gift to this year’s ACA will continue to support Catholic education, Faith formation, vocations, retired priests, Catholic Charities and other ongoing ministries, this year’s campaign will fund programs that have grown out of the needs that emerged during the pandemic

Pamela S. Rittman, director of Development, said that the 2021 ACA will help the diocese move forward after the difficult months of the past year. “The vaccine is here and we are inaugurating much needed and innovative initiatives in our diocese, which are giving people hope and inviting them back to church,” she said.

ACA funds will support the bishop’s plan for a Year of Eucharistic Celebration and Renewal through the dedication of Centers of Mercy and Centers of Eucharist in various parishes throughout the diocese.

Rittman said that additionally, a new sharing formula makes it possible for over-goal funds to be used to address critical needs within a parish, or to be allocated to a neighboring parish or specific diocesan mission.

(Please participate in this year’s, Arise, Annual Catholic Appeal by giving as generously as your means allow. To make a donation online at or text the word APPEAL to 475.241.7849. Donations of whatever amount will help us to help those in need. Thank you for your support.)

The 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal, While the historic health crisis of 2020 impacted everyone, the generosity of the donors to the 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal enabled the Diocese of Bridgeport to expand services to meet the spiritual and daily needs of individuals and families, many of whom lost their jobs. We are grateful for the support of all those who participated. The 2020 “Renew” Annual Catholic Appeal raised $8,047,988 on a goal of $9 million dollars. The Appeal makes it possible for works of charity and pastoral services, faith and ministry and education and catechesis to continue each and every day. Thank you to our donors, pastors and priests, staff and volunteers who work tirelessly during the Appeal. Likewise, we extend our gratitude to the pastors and parishioners of the “We Stand With Christ” Capital Campaign for meeting and exceeding their capital campaign goal and meeting 100 percent of their Annual Catholic Appeal goal.