BRIDGEPORT—“Renew” is the theme of the 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) launched by the diocese in January.
“We speak of renewing the Church, and renewing the Church is a spiritual exercise,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. “It is bringing hope where there may not be a message of hope. It is bringing faith into action in the lives of people in need. It is to mentor young people and show them a better way, which is the way of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
This year’s ACA goal of $9 million will fund ongoing operations, programs and initiatives sponsored by the diocese to reach out to the poor and needy, educate and form young people in the faith, promote vocations, support retired priests, and create vibrant ministries that evangelize and serve all those in need in Fairfield County.
The bishop said most parishes throughout the diocese will be resuming the normal Annual Catholic Appeal, having completed the public phase of the “We Stand With Christ” capital campaign.
The capital campaign was an effort to provide for the strategic, long-term programs of the Diocese of Bridgeport by investing 50 percent of donations in endowments in three newly created foundations in education, charity and faith. These lay-run endowments will provide investment income that will make the ministries of the diocese financially secure for the future. The remaining 50% of funds provide for parish projects and improvements, many of which are already underway.
The bishop said that as successful as the “We Stand With Christ” capital campaign has been, the day-to-day needs and operating expenses of the diocese require the Annual Catholic Appeal to fund ongoing, day-to-day operations and unplanned needs.
“Those needs continue to grow and will never totally go away. However, my hope and expectation is that in the next few years, our Annual Catholic Appeal will diminish in the amount we will ask for and need. As the capital campaign endowments grow, we hope to reduce the yearly Annual Catholic Appeal parish goals,” he said.
During this period of transition to a new funding model, Bishop Caggiano has asked every parishioner to resume their yearly gifts to the appeal.
Last year, the annual appeal was suspended in many parishes because the capital campaign was underway; however, a portion of the gifts were designated to provide for yearly needs in the diocese.
Bishop Caggiano expressed his sincere gratitude to the faithful who gave to the capital campaign and urged them to help continue the renewal that has begun in “the healed and vibrant Church in Fairfield County.” He also asked that they join him in bringing a “message of reconciliation, of hope, of new life to our communities and to the larger community that we share with others of every faith and way of life.”
“We live in continually challenging times, but those challenges are opportunities to evangelize, to preach and to bring a message of hope, to do the works of the Church, to be faithful disciples in the world,” Bishop Caggiano said. “And so I thank you and I ask as always that you be as generous as possible, as you and I do this work of renewing the Church in hope of renewing the face of the whole world.”
Pamela S. Rittman CFRE, Director of Development and the Appeal, said, “When I think of ‘renewal,’ it reminds me of a fresh start. The Annual Catholic Appeal is just that—to renew or start again each year. Without the vital ministries the Appeal supports, we cannot continue to serve those in need and continue the Gospel message on a daily basis each year.”
She said that over the past two years, the diocese has worked to secure the future through a financial commitment made through the We Stand With Christ capital campaign for long-term, strategic planning that will serve future generations in perpetuity.
“Now, we continue with our annual commitment to the day-to-day funding for our ministries that the capital campaign does not provide for,” Rittman said, adding, “The faithful of Fairfield County have always been generous in their leadership, personal and financial resources at the parish and diocesan levels and we are grateful for their support and look forward to a successful 2020 Appeal.”
This year’s chair couple are Jason and Roxanne Melaragno of Holy Family Church in Fairfield and the vice chair couple are Daniel and Kelly Anne Murphy of the Parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull.
Parish chairpersons and pastors will launch the Appeal in January and the first letters will be sent out in February. The Appeal will be concluded by the end of June although gifts will be accepted through December 31, 2020, Rittman said.
People also may make a pledge by texting the word APPEAL to 475.241.7849.
(For more information or to donate please go to 2020ACABridgeport.com or call 203.416.1470.)