FORT WAYNE — “The Annual Bishop’s Appeal is an opportunity for all of us to participate in the Church’s mission in ‘Spreading the Light of God’s Love,’” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the critical yearly funding campaign, which begins in September. “Although it is entitled ‘Annual Bishop’s Appeal,’ this major effort each year is not really about ‘the bishop,’ as much as it is about our love for Christ and our love for His Church. It really is an invitation to live our faith and commitment to our Lord’s mission.”
This year’s Annual Bishop’s Appeal will kick off in many parishes Sept. 13, although the date can vary from parish to parish. Pledge Sunday in the majority of parishes is the following Sunday, Sept. 20.
Parishes in the diocese are given a collection goal for each year’s appeal. Any amount of money collected over the set amount is returned to the parish for its use. The diocesan portion of the funds financially supports a number of ministries critical to the Church’s mission of evangelization and living out its call to charity.
“Our charity is an expression of love for God and neighbor and is an important part of the life of the Church,” noted Bishop Rhoades. “The work of Christ can only be carried out through the charity, sacrifice and generosity of the members of the Church.”
Examples of the impact made by those who donate to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal are evident in many evangelization and charitable efforts.
Secretariat for Evangelization
The 2020 ABA funding goal for the Secretariat for Evangelization is $562,701. In fiscal year 2019-20, this same budgeted amount helped prepare 606 individuals for marriage; catechized 526 individuals during Spanish-language seminars, workshops and retreats; and reached more than 650 young adults through diocesan young-adult ministry events such as retreats, small groups, Theology on Tap gatherings, and pilgrimages that included World Youth Day. Four focused ministries of evangelization also offered support and resources to parents and couples who had suffered the loss of a baby, those faced with a difficult prenatal diagnosis, couples struggling with infertility and those seeking hope and healing from abortion.
Communications and worship
The goal of the 2020 Annual Bishop’s Appeal for two other diocesan offices, the Secretariat for Communication and Office of Worship, is $798,024. This will, firstly, allow diocesan and other liturgies to be coordinated and carried out. ABA funding allowed more than 130 special liturgical events to take place in fiscal year 2019-20: The same year, more than 50 marketing campaigns were designed and carried out for diocesan offices, parishes and schools; and more than 366,000 individuals engaged with content generated for Today’s Catholic, printed in the newspaper and posted online.
Students and teachers across the diocese are also supported by the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. ABA funds applied in the arena of education during the past fiscal year supported 13,450 students in diocesan schools, 6,514 youths enrolled in religious education, 388 candidates for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and enabled more than 850 youths to participate in diocesan pilgrimages. It permitted the hiring and training, as well as ongoing support, of 1,100 Catholic school teachers. Additionally, 79 teachers and catechists were able to participate in Foundations of Faith, a formation and certification program. The goal for this year’s education portion of the ABA is $1,727,904.
It is also hoped that during the 2020 Annual Bishop’s Appeal $1,376,500 can be collected to support current and future priests of the diocese. As of June, ABA funds had provided stipends, educational opportunities and supported other needs of 20 candidates to the permanent diaconate, 25 current permanent deacons, 22 retired priests, 30 seminarians in formation for the priesthood and 110 parish priests over the past year. An increase in vocations during the past few years makes that support urgent once again.
Catholics in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, their parishes and non-Catholics in their communities have also historically been the beneficiaries of charitable ministries aided by Annual Bishop’s Appeal funds. Once again, the ABA goal to support those efforts is $725,000.
Yearly, $210,000 in funds are budgeted from the ABA collection to grant to the Parishes-in-Need program. The money helps parishes accomplish infrastructure, technology and security improvements. Programs operated by Catholic Charities are slated to receive $425,000, and $90,000 will be granted to other charitable organizations. Among the charitable Catholic ministries supported in these ways are those providing food, clothing and medical care; those serving the homeless; crisis pregnancy and adoption services; refugee settlement and placement services; those offering service to persons with disabilities; victim assistance; and jail ministry.
To donate online and for more information on diocesan expenditures, visit: diocesefwsb.org/ABA. All gifts support the diocese and also benefit diocesan parishes. Funds contributed over a parish’s goal are returned to the parish. Checks may be made payable to: Annual Bishop’s Appeal.
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