FORT WAYNE — The Annual Bishop’s Appeal will kick off in many parishes of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Sept. 26. As it gets underway, the hope — beyond matching last year’s stunning $6.6 million record total — is that this year’s collection will be a sign of vibrancy in a world emerging from the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Annual Bishop’s Appeal is an opportunity for Catholics to help the diocese participate in the Church’s mission of bringing God’s saving hope and love to others through its many ministries and service, stated Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in the 2021 Annual Bishop’s Appeal video. “The work of a diocese is a great undertaking, especially in times of hardship. We are called to ensure that our dioceses and parishes have the resources we need to carry out our mission.”
Annual Bishop’s Appeal funds support Catholic education, seminarian formation, priests’ retirement, evangelization ministries, communication efforts, services to the needy and support to parishes. Parishes are given a collection goal for each year’s appeal, and any amount of money collected above the set amount is returned to the parish for its use.
Last year, donations to the appeal supported a $1,000,000 subsidy to high schools; $1,000,000 of the cost of seminarian education and $376,500 of the many expenses associated with supporting diocesan priests in their retirement. Funds also were donated to further the work of Catholic Charities; make grants to parishes and diocesan Catholic agencies; enable the work of the Secretariat for Communications, Catholic schools; support Hispanic Ministry; provide for worship needs and underwrite the work of the marriage tribunal.
These ministries and departments may have larger overall total budgets and expenses, which are outlined in the diocesan financial report.
Investing in the ’hope that does not disappoint’
“In a letter to the faithful regarding this year’s Bishop’s Appeal, Bishop Rhoades reflected on words from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
“These words are especially relevant as we recover from the Covid pandemic with renewed hope, a hope that can never be extinguished even by a pandemic because our hope has the firmest foundation: the love of God revealed in the Heart of His Son and poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” he wrote.
In thanks to those who donated to the 2020 Annual Bishop’s Appeal, he noted that “I was amazed that, in the midst of the hardships of the Covid pandemic, we received the highest amount in the history of the Appeal, over $6.6 million. This allowed over $1.6 million to be returned directly to our parishes. We also received over 2,500 donations from new donors to the Appeal. Your generosity is a testament to your faith and a sign of the vibrancy of the Church in our diocese.
“I pray that you will be generous in supporting the Bishop’s Appeal again this year. Your support ensures that our diocese and parishes have the resources we need to carry out our mission of bearing witness to God’s love and bringing the hope of the Gospel to so many in this portion of the vineyard of the Lord which is northeast Indiana.”
Enabling missions, formation, charitable services
The Secretariat for Evangelization uses Annual Bishop’s Appeal funds to help prepare individuals for marriage; catechize individuals during Spanish-language seminars, workshops and retreats; and reach young adults through diocesan young-adult ministry events such as retreats, small groups, Theology on Tap gatherings and pilgrimages that included World Youth Day. Focused ministries of evangelization also offer support and resources to parents and couples who suffer the loss of a baby, those faced with a difficult prenatal diagnosis, couples struggling with infertility and those seeking hope and healing from abortion.
In the Secretariat for Communication and Office of Worship, diocesan and other liturgies are coordinated and carried out with help from ABA. Marketing campaigns are designed for diocesan offices, parishes and schools, and content is generated for Today’s Catholic, printed in the newspaper and posted online.
Students across the diocese are supported by the Annual Bishop’s Appeal in Catholic schools, and religious education classes and adults receive Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults preparation. It permits the hiring and training, as well as ongoing support, of 1,100 Catholic school teachers. Additionally, teachers and catechists are able to participate in Foundations of Faith, a formation and certification program, because of the funding.
ABA funds provide stipends, educational opportunities and support other needs of candidates to the permanent diaconate, current permanent deacons, retired priests, seminarians in formation for the priesthood and parish priests. An increase in vocations during the past few years makes that support urgent and appreciated.
Catholics in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, their parishes and nonCatholics in their communities have historically been the beneficiaries of charitable ministries aided by Annual Bishop’s Appeal funds as well.
Funds are budgeted from the ABA collection to grant through the Parishes-in-Need program. The money helps parishes accomplish infrastructure, technology and security improvements. Catholic Charities uses ABA funds to carry out charitable Catholic ministries that provide food, clothing and medical care; serve the homeless; support those in crisis pregnancies and provide adoption services; offer refugee settlement and placement services; and offer services 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 benefit diocesan parishes. Checks may be made payable to: Annual Bishop’s Appeal.
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