March 2, 2011 // Local

Bishop’s Appeal pledges exceed all previous campaigns

With a few individual and parish pledges still forthcoming, the 24th Annual Bishop’s Appeal (ABA) has exceeded all previous campaigns, totaling more than $6.2 million to date.

Commenting on these results, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said, “I am deeply grateful to the people of our diocese for their great generosity to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal this year. This new record of giving is a testament to the faith of our people and to the spiritual health and vitality of our diocese. I thank all the donors to the appeal for their sacrifices in support of the Church’s mission.”

“It is clear to me that this is not an accomplishment we celebrate with pride, but it is the work of God,” added Harry Verhiley, director of the Development Office since 2000. “To see this expression of generosity is an expression of love … love for God and neighbor. It is a statement that we are really trying to be what God wants us to be.”

The 24th ABA so far has exceeded previous campaigns in nearly all categories. The table on page 4 compares 2011 results with last year’s fund drive, which at the time represented the highest amount ever pledged at more than $5.7 million.

The ABA is successful because it begins in the parish and is oriented toward the parish. Each parish is assigned a goal according to an objective calculation based on parish offertory totals. All overage from the ABA is returned to the parish. A successful parish appeal means not only success for diocesan ministries and services, but also success for the parish. Strong parishes mean a strong diocese. Ultimately, all ministries and services funded by the ABA promote the fullness of pastoral and spiritual renewal of all parishes.

An example of how a successful ABA campaign at a parish can work for the overall betterment of the parish comes from St. Anthony de Padua in South Bend:
“There are a number of capital improvements that need to be done at the parish, and I thought that striving for a big overage from Bishop’s Appeal would be the best way to raise that money,” said Father Mark Gurtner, pastor. “So I approached a group of major donors for their extra support, and I simply asked everyone in the parish to put in a little extra this year. Also, I asked those who had never pledged before to do so. My goal was to raise $103,500 over our diocesan goal of about $71,000.

“We ended up raising $117,000 over goal if you also include some direct gifts that I received for this effort. It was a fantastic success, and with the extra money I will be able to do some much needed capital improvements for the parish,” Father Gurtner concluded.

The ABA is a major source of funding for the ministries and services of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, enabling the diocese to do the work of Jesus Christ and reach across parish boundaries in the areas of evangelization; formation and education; family and pastoral life; and charity, leading to a deeper friendship with Christ and our neighbor.

At a glance, the ABA supports spiritual development programs and services, including campus ministry, young adult and youth ministries, weekly televised Masses and radio programs

Formation and Education
Training of candidates for the diocesan priesthood, Catholic schools, religious education, RCIA, endowment fund for Catholic high schools and funding to support Catholic school teachers’ salaries

Family and Pastoral
Retirement assistance to diocesan priests and religious, diocesan ministries and services such as the Marriage Tribunal, liturgy and music, vocations and Hispanic ministry

Catholic Charities, which includes specialized programs for people in need, crisis pregnancies, agencies serving those with serious physical or psychological needs, and financial support for various charities doing the work of Christ throughout the diocese

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