Janet Patterson
Freelance writer
September 13, 2018 // Diocese

Buildings, operating expenses top list of uses for ABA overages

Janet Patterson
Freelance writer

Sometimes a financial windfall means a grand construction project can begin; sometimes it just means being able to pay bills without stress. It’s the same for parishes that go over their Annual Bishop’s Appeal goal.

Every year, each of the 81 parishes in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is assigned an appeal goal based on its annual offertory collection and previous giving to the appeal, said Jeff Boetticher, head of the Secretariat for Stewardship and Development. “If a parish gets behind the appeal and exceeds its goal, both the diocese and the parish benefit,” he continued.

All ABA funds collected above and beyond the set goal are then returned to the parish for use as its members and leadership see fit. In 2017, the appeal returned a total of $1.6 million to parishes that had collected more than their goals.

All money raised above a parish’s yearly Annual Bishop’s Appeal goal is returned directly to that parish to fund self-determined priorities. At Elkhart’s St. Thomas the Apostle Parish last year, that priority was to relieve some of the cost of operating St. Thomas the Apostle School. Above, older and younger students at the school work together to plant a garden. — Provided by Ann Britzke

The 10 parishes exceeding their goals by the largest amount included large parishes like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne and St. Pius X in Granger, as well as smaller parishes like St. Gaspar del Bufalo in Rome City and St. Louis, Besancon in New Haven.

According to Father Benjamin Muhlenkamp, pastor at St. Louis, Besancon, the nearly $69,000 that the parish collected over its 2017 goal went toward a $1.7 million building project.

“Rather than a capital campaign, we planned to use our overage for the project,” he said. Five new classrooms and meeting space are the result of the parish’s enthusiasm for the Annual Bishop’s Appeal.

“Anything over our 2018 goal will again go toward paying off the debt for the project,” Father Muhlenkamp added.

At St. Thomas the Apostle in Elkhart, a $47,065 overage helped with operational costs of the parish school, which educates more than 200 students.

The $50,463 above goal raised at St. John the Baptist in New Haven helped the parish expand its commitment to youth ministry, as well as to put something in reserve for unexpected expenses, explained Father Bill Sullivan, the pastor.

“The people in the parish believe in this very much. They want to help the parish and the diocese.

“We’ve made a commitment to youth ministry. We started with high school and have added middle school to that ministry.”

He said he someday hopes that the parish’s continued enthusiastic support of the Annual Bishop’s Appeal will mean making youth ministry a full-time position on the parish staff.

“We also put aside money for repairs since things can come up that are unexpected.”

Father Sullivan said the parish of approximately 650 registered families is consistently supportive of the annual appeal.

“I’m grateful that whether we reach our goal or not, the people of the parish want to do something to support the diocese.”

Also included in the top parishes to exceed last year’s goals were St. Charles Borromeo, Our Lady of Good Hope and St. Vincent de Paul, all in Fort Wayne, as well as St. Joseph in South Bend.

The 2018 goal for Annual Bishop’s Appeal is $5,436,859 to support ministries and programs throughout the diocese. Money from the Annual Bishop’s Appeal supports programs that benefit diocesanwide programs in the areas of charity and pastoral ministry, evangelization, education and formation as well as clergy support.

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.

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