ACA supports bishop’s ‘Call to Renewal’

BRIDGEPORT—The “ARISE” 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) is off to an encouraging start with $2.9 million pledged toward an overall goal of $8.1 million in support of Bishop Frank J. Caggiano’s “A Call to Renewal” along with ongoing programs and ministries.

The 2021 ACA moves forward at a hopeful moment with the arrival of vaccines and many parishioners beginning to return to in-person Mass around the diocese.

“I come to you with real, joyful hope because as this pandemic begins to recede, you and I are given this wonderful opportunity, creatively and imaginatively, to set our Church on a path of growth by offering new initiatives and new opportunities to engage our youth and welcome people back to Church.”

The bishop said he is particularly grateful for those who have already generously given to the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal, which is both looking forward to the future, but also working to address the ongoing needs of those who have been left behind as a result of the pandemic.

“This is not the time for us to turn our backs away from those in need,” the bishop said. “For the need remains urgent, and many suffer from the effects of this pandemic and will continue to do so for a long time as we work to recover.”

Joe Gallagher, chief development officer of the diocese, said this year’s ACA will provide the financial resources for many of the initiatives outlined in the bishop’s recent Pastoral Exhortation, “Let Us Enter the Upper Room with the Lord.”

“In his Pastoral Exhortation the bishop has issued a “Call to Renewal,” which includes the designation of Centers of Mercy and Centers of Eucharistic Adoration to enable all to deepen their faith, said Gallagher.

Likewise, orientation and training has already begun for men and women of all ages throughout the diocese who are interested in becoming “Ambassadors,” who will share their faith with others and go out into the community later in the year to evangelize in person.

Planning is also underway for the development of four pastoral centers focusing on family life, Catholic culture and sacred arts, young adult entrepreneurship and evangelization in order to move the diocese forward in renewal.

“The seed money for these new and exciting programs will come from the ACA, and it will support the renewal efforts, “said Gallagher.

In describing “A Call to Renewal” Bishop Caggiano said it is not a formal process or program but a series of opportunities for people to deepen their faith, serve others and go out into community to address the needs of our entire family of faith. “We can become ambassadors of Christ in the world,” he said.

Pam Rittman, director of the ACA, said that in addition to supporting the bishop’s “A Call to Renewal,” the ACA continues to fund the major diocesan ministries and services available to all people in the diocese throughout the year.

“As a Catholic community we care deeply about the vulnerable and underserved parishioners within the Diocese of Bridgeport, many of whom are members of our inner-city churches and have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” she said.

Rittman said the need for nutrition, counseling and immigration services through Catholic Charities has remained elevated throughout the crisis while some parishes have required emergency support. Many families throughout the diocese have depended on the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund to support their choice of Catholic education for their children and because of the pandemic, there has been an increase in enrollment.

“The bishop has taught us that those in need are our brothers and sisters, and we must work to help them to feel welcome in our Church as part of our diocesan families. We need to stand with them and accompany them,” she said.

Rittman said the ACA is an opportunity for the people of the diocese to invest in the future of young people and the vibrancy of the entire faith community, while also continuing to support essential ministries that do the work of feeding and sheltering the poor, reaching out to the elderly, and serving all those who are vulnerable and troubled.

She added that a new revenue sharing plan allows each parish to designate their over goal funds to a specific ministry or diocesan mission program, another parish facing financial hardship, or for their own parish general operating needs. Each pastor, along with their parish council and finance committees, determine where the funds will be directed.

“We’re asking people to give according to their means at a time when there is much need, great hope and a shared vision for the future, and we are grateful for each and every gift no matter what people give,” she said.

Donations may be made by using the envelope in this issue or online at: You may also donate by texting the word APPEAL to 475.241.7849 to make your pledge. Please visit the website to view the 2021 Appeal video and learn more.

For the 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal, the following provides a correction to the figures for St. Thomas More Parish.
• Goal—$450,000
• Pledged—$478,158
• % over goal—+6.3%
The diocesan Development Team would like to thank the parishioners of St. Thomas More for their commitment to supporting the ministries of the diocese.

By Brian D. Wallace