September 30, 2017 // Bishop

Annual Bishop’s Appeal — Diocesan campaign directly benefits parishes

St. John the Baptist Parish, New Haven, sees invaluable rewards coming from the Annual Bishop’s Appeal.

For the past four years our community has been fortunate enough to meet and exceed its Annual Bishop’s Appeal goal; on occasion, we have gone way above, while other times the goal was reached with some room to spare,” said Father Bill Sullivan, who gives accolades to his New Haven parish of St. John the Baptist.

Father Sullivan is thankful for the blessings bestowed on the parish that have come as a result of each and every Annual Bishop’s Appeal. He is amazed at how giving the parishioners at St. John the Baptist have consistently been, which in addition to supporting diocesan programs has also allowed for many projects and programs to take place at the parish level. “I applaud this parish community — faith-filled members of the diocese since 1859,” he said with a smile.

Father Bill Sullivan

Every year, parishes in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend have a set Annual Bishop’s Appeal goal they attempt to reach; a specific amount of funds that are used in support of designated diocesan programs and outreaches. Any amount collected above and beyond a parish’s set goal, however, is not retained by the diocese but rather returned in its entirety to the parish where the overage was raised.

Since the inception of the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, these overages have funded a number of building projects and other priorities in parishes across the diocese.

The money that came back from the most recent appeals have gone a long way for St. John the Baptist parish, enriching parish life. Among other applications, the funds have helped it maintain the buildings and grounds. 

“Most usually every year we will discover a need to update and repair. This year, as time goes on, will certainly be no different.” Father Sullivan said.

The returned overages have also helped the parish augment its staffing. 

“How fortunate we have been to have a full-time parochial vicar the past two years. This year we have hired a part-time youth minister. These new members of the pastoral staff are invaluable,” said Father Sullivan.

He thinks the videos that are shown each year in every parish help tremendously in building enthusiasm for the appeal at parishes in the diocese.

“I believe that seeing the video prompts parishioners to sense that their gift is being used wisely,” he said. 

To help his parishioners fully understand how the appeal works at the parish as well as the diocesan level and why they should try to give to it, Father Sullivan noted that he always reinforces what is said in the annual video to his parish verbally. “And without a doubt, I pray!”

This year, he said “whatever comes back over goal (at the parish) will be used for capital improvements and hopefully in having additions to our pastoral staff.”

Like his brother priests in the diocese, Father Sullivan is hopeful that all parishioners will find a way to give to the ABA.

“As the numbers indicate, the percentage of donors seems to have increased here in the past few years. So, I’ve tried to state that since everyone benefits, why would anyone not want to contribute something to the ABA?” The suggested amount for the average parish family is $300 a year, but Father Sullivan added that “whatever one contributes should come from a generous heart.”

Although there is a direct benefit for parishes who surpass their appeal goal, contributing to the work of the diocese should continue to be the primary motivation for one’s prayerful participation, he encouraged. The focus point for this year’s ABA, “One Body in Christ,” helps all Catholics in the diocese feel like they are a part of the campaign, he added.

“It should motivate everyone to realize their interconnectedness with all of the other Catholics in the diocese. We have a wonderful opportunity to touch lives in the name of Christ: May everyone remember to focus beyond their own parish and see the wider church.”

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