A Spirited Start for the 2017 Appeal

BRIDGEPORT—The ACA got off to a spirited start in the Bridgeport area, where at 300 people filled the Queen of Saints Hall at the Catholic Center for the kickoff reception for 2017 Annual Catholic Appeal.

Parishioners from St. Margaret Shrine, St. George, St. Charles Borromeo, the Cathedral Parish, St. Mary, St. Ann, St. Andrew and others made the afternoon both festive and focused on supporting the appeal, which funds the major ministries of the diocese.

Father Frank Gomez, Pastor of St. Charles on the East Side of Bridgeport, translated for the many Spanish-speaking Catholics in attendance. Many came as entire families—grandparents, parents, children, and small babies in carriages.

Bishop Caggiano told the guests that the diocese is truly one family, but he said that many people need help, and he expressed concern that the Church is not “meeting people where they are on their life’s journey.”

When asked if there were other ways to give to the appeal in addition to giving money, the bishop responded that people with very little to give can also speak to others about the importance of the appeal, and the many individual and families that it helps throughout the diocese.

The diocese held Vespers on January 10 to pray for blessings on this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA), which kicks off this month.

The theme of the 2017 ACA is “Sharing God’s Gifts, Transforming Lives One Person at a Time.” The diocese has set an $11 million goal to fund its major ministries, programs and service agencies.

Elena and Steve Schlegel, members of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, are lay co-chairs of the 2017 ACA. This year’s vice chair couple, Conrad and Carol Calandra, are parishioners at St. Lawrence Parish in Shelton.

This year’s appeal has a new structure, according to Pam Rittman, director of the ACA. In addition to the lay chairs and parish chairs, the appeal will now have chairs for each of the six vicariates in the diocese. These chairs, Rittman said, will be able to support the parishes in their vicariates on a more individual level. “With this new structure in place, the diocese will have a working group to support each community.”

In addition to the new chairs, the 2017 Appeal also includes five categories for giving: Catholic Education, Charity and Justice, Catechesis and Evangelization, Clergy, and Social and Pastoral Service.

Rittman said that the ACA Education Weekend, which kicks off the appeal, is set for January 21 and 22 in all parishes. The 2017 Appeal brochure and video are also available. The brochure, Rittman said, details the newly structured five categories for giving.

The video features lay and clergy from across the diocese, including Father Rolando Torres, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bridgeport; Julio and Liliana Sanchez, parishioners at St. Benedict-Our Lady of Montserrat Parish in Stamford; Andres Grajales, parishioner at Sacred Heart Parish in Stamford; Onyi, a Bishop’s Scholarship Fund recipient at Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport; Henry Rondon, Kolbe Cathedral’s assistant principal; and Kim and Phyllis, participants in Catholic Charities’ New Heights program.

(For more info or to give online, go to, or phone 203.416.1470.)