Janet Patterson
Freelance writer
August 15, 2018 // Bishop

Annual Bishop’s Appeal funds applied diocesewide

Janet Patterson
Freelance writer

The 2018 Annual Bishop’s Appeal for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend kicks off this month, with a goal of $5,436,859 to support ministries and programs throughout the diocese.

The theme, “The Love of Christ Urges Us On,” comes from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. “The love of Christ gave (Paul) energy to do the work,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades told viewers in this year’s ABA video. That love, he says, continues to give 21st-century believers the energy to do God’s work in the world.

Before the creation of the Annual Bishop’s Appeal in 1987, parishes were assessed a 13 percent tax on all parish income. That tax was used to fund the work of the diocese. With the creation of the appeal, the tax was reduced to 6 percent on a parish’s Sunday collections.

Each of the 81 parishes in the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese is assigned an appeal goal based on its annual offertory collection and previous giving to the appeal, explained Jeff Boetticher, secretary of stewardship and development for the diocese. Any money donated to the appeal that exceeds the parish goal goes back to the parish. The total goal for the annual appeal is the total of each of those parish goals.

“If a parish gets behind the appeal and exceeds its goal, both the diocese and the parish benefit,” Boetticher continued. He said last year the appeal returned a total of $1.6 million to parishes that had collected more than their goal.

Individuals preparing to enter the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil pray during the Rite of Election at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne, in February. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is one of many diocesan evangelization programs supported by funds raised during the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. — Joe Romie

Money from the Annual Bishop’s Appeal supports diocesanwide programs in the areas of charity and pastoral ministry, evangelization, education and formation, and provides clergy support.

Eleven percent of the appeal money goes to charity and pastoral ministries that include food, clothing and medical care for the poor; homeless assistance; crisis pregnancy and adoption services; refugee resettlement and placement services; ministry to persons with disabilities; victim assistance; and jail ministry.

Thirty-five percent of the annual appeal is used for catechesis and spiritual formation. This includes tuition grants for needy students in Catholic school, parish faith formation for adults and youth, support for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the Education for Ministry program for catechists and continuing education for teachers in Catholic schools.

The diocese’s evangelization efforts are supported by 30 percent of the annual appeal income. This aids in funding Hispanic ministry; the Black Catholic Congress; diocesan retreats and conferences; ministries to married couples and families, separated and divorced people, college students and young adults; as well as pro-life activities, television Masses and Today’s Catholic, the diocesan news source.

The 24 percent of the appeal that is designated for clergy helps underwrite the formation of the 25 men now preparing for the diocesan priesthood and men studying for the permanent diaconate. It also helps support retired priests.

Boetticher said that this year’s Annual Bishop’s Appeal will kick off later in August during dinners with Bishop Rhoades in both Fort Wayne and South Bend.

Parishes choose when during the fall appeal they will introduce this year’s parish goal and provide materials for donating.

People have several options for participating in the appeal, Boetticher explained. “They can choose to just write a lump-sum check, or they can pledge to donate every three months or spread their pledge out monthly for 10 payments.”

For more information about the 2018 Annual Bishop’s Appeal, go to www.diocesefwsb.org/aba.

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