BRIDGEPORT—The “ARISE” Annual Catholic Appeal now stands at almost $5.4 million pledged toward its $8.1 million goal, and there is more than a month left to close the gap, says Joe Gallagher, chief development officer of the diocese.
Gallagher adds there is more heavy lifting to do, but he’s optimistic as a number of factors are coming together to bring the campaign to a successful conclusion by the end of June.
In-pew weekends are scheduled for June 6 and June 13 in most parishes throughout the diocese, with speakers and the ACA video available to offer information, says Gallagher.
“In-pew weekends are really a call for everyone to come on board and join the more than 9,000 parishioners that have already contributed to the ACA. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has often spoken about the need for all to participate and to give at whatever level is possible. In-pew weekend is a reminder that we are all in this together and that the ministries and programs the Appeal supports build up the faith of the entire diocese through service, spiritual formation and strengthening of our faith community,” says Gallagher.
If this year’s campaign seems to be quicker, it is because Bishop Caggiano cut five weeks off the usual timeline and has asked that it be wrapped up by the end of June.
Gallagher says the bishop shortened the campaign in recognition of the
extraordinary generosity of many during the pandemic year, and with an understanding of the toll the pandemic has taken on everyone and the enthusiasm about moving forward in a year of recovery and renewal.
“During the past year, I have been inspired by those who have given so generously out of the recognition of the suffering and hardships that others have been experiencing. Now, as we call all the faithful back to Mass and the Eucharist, we have much to celebrate as a family of faith— and with the help of our donors, an opportunity to move forward in renewal,” said the bishop.
Gallagher said the fact that the diocese is already at 66 percent of its goal during an abbreviated campaign is very encouraging and an indication that people understand and appreciate the role diocesan ministries play in uniting the diocese in service and prayer and how they were able to reach out in the worst of the crisis to feed, counsel and support those most in need.
“After a year we’ve had, I think people can see that the ACA touches every life in our diocese. Some received direct assistance such as food or counseling. Others were able to view Mass online or participate in a rosary and unite in spiritual communion.”
Gallagher says that in the coming weeks his office will continue to follow up with major donors who have traditionally given large leadership gifts to the ACA. His team will also work with parishes that may be struggling to help them reach the goals.
Pam Rittman, director of the ACA, says that one of the positive signs of this year’s campaign has been the increase in new donors and the increase in individual giving.
“This year so far, we have a total of 2,210 new donors and another 1,900 people who increased their giving,” reports Rittman.
Rittman believes one reason for the positive response to this year’s Appeal is that pastors and parishioners are very pleased with the new incentive sharing program, which enables a parish to direct the funds to an area it raises over goal. “The incentive program has really resonated with parishioners who like the idea that the over goal money can be directed to parish operations, parish ministries, or parishes that are pastorally viable but financially facing hardship,” she says.
Rittman believes that the events of the past year and the suffering caused by the pandemic have created an awareness of the role that only the diocese can play.
“While people have always given generously to their parishes, this year the health crisis has driven the point home that the diocese can reach out in ways that individual parishes cannot. Our parishioners were able to see how we continued programs last year in the midst of COVID-19 and continue to meet the tremendous need; they see their appeal gift in action. It does not matter the size of the gift; whether it’s educating seminarians, providing scholarship money for our students, or serving the most vulnerable, the ACA gives the diocese the reach to bring the gospel message and resources to those in need,” she said.
Rittman says she hopes people will take advantage of the upcoming in-pew weekend to support the appeal. “We know that by this time in the campaign, some people may have lost their envelopes or simply forgotten. We hope that the in-pew will bring them on board as we work together to reach goal and support our overall appeal goal. As always, we are grateful to each and every parishioner.”
(Gifts can be made securely either online on the Annual Catholic Appeal website: 2021ACABridgeport.com, donate page tab or by texting the word, APPEAL to 475.241.7849 on a smartphone or calling 203.416.1470. ACA gifts can be mailed to the Catholic Center at 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606.)