ACA Reaches Halfway Mark

The Annual Catholic Appeal has reached over 50% of goal with more than 12,000 donors participating in the campaign, which was launched in January. To date the campaign has raised over $6 million of the $11 million goal needed to fund the major ministries and programs of the Diocese of Bridgeport. The number of donors is up 3,000 from last year at this time. The theme of the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal, “Renewed in Faith, Hope and Charity,” is resonating with parishioners across the diocese.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said that, as he travels around the diocese, people who have benefitted from the programs and services funded by the ACA often personally thank him. “They thank me, but it is our donors who make this possible, and I wish to thank all who have already given so generously and sacrificially. Faith and good works come together in the Appeal and you have spoken loudly in your concern for the suffering, vulnerable and needy among us,” said the bishop.

Bill McLean, chief development officer of the diocese, is encouraged by the early response. “We’re off to a great start but we have a lot of work to do to get the Appeal across the finish line and support the important work the bishop has put before us,” he said.

McLean is grateful to all of those who have given early to help give the Appeal its best start in years. He credits the work of the ACA chair couple and vice chair couples, along with parish Appeal chairs, for bringing new enthusiasm and understanding of the campaign across the diocese.

Julie and Rowan Taylor of New Canaan are serving as the chair couple. Their efforts have been assisted by newly named vice chair couples, Maureen and Mike Considine of Stamford, and Elena and Steve Schlegel of New Canaan, and the many men and women now serving as parish co-chairs.

The Pastors’ Advisory Committee (PAC) for the Appeal is led by Msgr. Laurence Bronkiewicz, chairman, and Father Reggie Norman, vice chair. The committee meets throughout the year to discuss strategy.

McLean said there is much good news in the early giving trends, with 30 percent of donors increasing their gifts from last year and 15 percent joining the Appeal for the first time as new donors.

St. Margaret Shrine in Bridgeport is the first parish to go over goal in the diocese, while many other parishes are quickly approaching their goals, he said.

Pam Rittman, director of the ACA, believes that the Appeal has had a very strong start because of the series of receptions hosted by parishioners and others throughout the diocese. “We appreciate the generosity of so many who offered to host receptions and introduce donors to this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal,” Rittman said.

Among those who had made a special effort, she mentioned Father Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Newtown; Christine and Dr. Thomas Ayoub from St. Aloysius Parish, New Canaan; Susan and Jim Larkin of St. Mary Parish, Greenwich; Cece and Michael Donoghue of St. Thomas More Parish, Darien; Jackie and Mickey Herbert from St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Fairfield; Patricia and Paul Kuehner at St. Mary Parish, Ridgefield; Connie and Vinny Von Zwehl from St. Pius X, Fairfield; and the 2016 Appeal Chair Couple Rowan and Julie Taylor, who belong to St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan. She also offered thanks to a donor who has asked to remain anonymous.

“The receptions have really been an inspiration to those who attended. They were an opportunity to meet the bishop, learn more about the Appeal, and get a better understanding of the importance of giving,” said Rittman.

She said that the receptions held throughout Fairfield County enjoyed a strong turnout and gave people a chance to view the 2016 ACA video, which has been very well received throughout the diocese.

The video included interviews with a representative sampling of people and ministries throughout the diocese. Among those interviewed in this year’s video are Father Samuel Scott, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Danbury; Father Andy Vill, parochial vicar at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, Stamford; Dr. Brian Jenkins, executive director at New Covenant House, also in Stamford; the Appeal lay co-chair couple, Julie and Rowan Taylor; and major benefactor Sarita Hanley. “Thank you for your support,” said Rittman. “So much is accomplished through the generosity of our parishioners.”

(For more information or to give online, go to or call (203) 416.1470).