June has always been a key month for the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) as it pushes toward its yearly goal to support the major programs and ministries of the diocese.
“June is traditionally the end of the public phase of the Appeal,” said William McLean, chief development officer of the diocese. “While people are welcome to make pledges throughout the end of the year, the June tally is crucial in helping the diocese budget and plan for the new year.”
McLean said the Appeal is over $10 million, and this is the first year since the recession that the ACA could conceivably reach the $12 million level.
“We need everyone on board to do that,” he said. “If we broaden the base of giving, we can affirm the bishop’s vision for renewal and support the work of hundreds of volunteers who are working on strategic planning and other synod initiatives.”
McLean said that the number of gifts is up by more than 2,700 donors from last year. “We are seeing a trend from donors who are increasing their gifts over last year, some making additional gifts.”
Mclean said that in addition to gifts made to the Appeal this year, Catholics have also been generous in their support of renovation and expansion plans for St. John Fisher Seminary and the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of Clergy Residence for retired priests in Stamford.
“People throughout the diocese have been tremendously generous and we’re very grateful,” said McLean.
Pam Rittman, director of the ACA, said that she senses greater enthusiasm this year when she visits parishes throughout the diocese. “Parishioners tell us they are inspired by the work and strategy of Bishop Frank Caggiano and his team in reconnecting parishioners to programs in our diocese,” Rittman said.
She also believes the leadership of the Appeal chair-couple, vice chairs and those who hosted receptions has made a significant difference in the level of enthusiasm and giving around the diocese. “When people viewed the video at the receptions, listened to the chair-couple and benefitted from the bishop’s reflections, they had a newfound understanding of the importance of the Appeal and its role in the life of faith,” she said.
Rittman said that if the ACA goes over goal this year, the funds will be a boost to many diocesan programs, including schools and Catholic Charities. “With an extra $1 million dollars we could provide over 600 scholarships, or with $100,000, an additional 75 scholarships,” she said.
Al Barber, president/CEO of Catholic Charities, said additional funding would immediately touch the lives of more people in need in the diocese. “If we had an additional funding, we could reach out with incremental services for the elderly, and we could also provide more emergency services for those struggling with rent, housing and other basic needs.”
Rittman said she is grateful “for each and every gift, large and small. We look to Christ who provides, and together we can do great things for the mission of our Church and the lives that are touched. If you have not made a gift, please make it today and help us reach many more.”