Dear Father Joe: Should I give to the Catholic Appeal?
Q: Dear Father Joe: Should I give to our local diocesan appeal? If so, why?
A: I get lots of questions from parishioners about the wider Church’s fundraising efforts, specifically the once-a-year effort that, in the Portland Diocese, is called the Catholic Appeal. It’s an important topic, so let me share my thoughts with you on this.
First of all, in my parishes, as in most, we take up collections every week that we can. We do this because we need money to operate. The money goes to the practical and to the mission. In terms of practical, the biggest expense is salaries and insurance. In the budget at both of my parishes, that is by far the biggest expense, even with our painfully underpaid employees.
Beyond that, we spend a significant amount of our resources ministering to the poor and to our parishioners.
Neither the practical nor the ministerial would be possible if we didn’t take up collections every week.
I would assume that this is the norm for most parishes.
Now, if we take the diocese, we will see that it has the exact same needs but on a much bigger scale. The diocese needs to do what individual parishes do but without a weekly collection. Instead, it counts on us to take up one big collection each year so that it can minister and help each parish minister.
Let’s look at how the diocese cares for the poor and vulnerable first.
In your diocese, it would simply astound you if you were to track the vast and efficient charitable work that is carried out. In its ministry to the poorest and most vulnerable, I think you would swell with holy pride at what your diocese has done and continues to do. It is almost impossible to imagine how the regions in the diocese would function were it not for the amazing work that the Church does.
Much of this would not happen without the Catholic Appeal.
The appeal is also the means by which the diocese ministers spiritually.
LIFELONG FAITH FORMATION
A lot of faith formation and religious education takes place at the parish level, and those local pastoral life coordinators, catechetical leaders, youth ministers, and other catechists rock. We should all thank them for their great work in forming Catholics in the faith. But without the diocese, many of them would be largely on their own. Through the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation, the diocese is able to offer training and guidance, making sure parish staffs and volunteers have the resources they need. This is a big help to priests. The Office of Lifelong Faith Formation is also able to build up a community among people from different parts of the state, so they can support one another, share information, and work together to present large-scale events, which would be challenging for parishes, especially those that are smaller or in more rural areas, to offer on their own.
To sum it up folks, once a year, the diocese asks each parish to step up and support the work that it does. Just as parishes must pay employees, cover insurance, care for the poor and needy, educate kids, and minister to those in need, the diocese has those exact same needs and yet cannot do a weekly collection.
I could go on and on...I genuinely feel a holy and joyful burden to share with everyone I can what a blessing the diocese is for us, and it’s my hope that by sharing this all with you, you get a sense of why it’s such a good thing to support the Catholic Appeal.
As for me, I am making my pledge to my diocese’s appeal. I ask you to do the same and support the Diocese of Portland’s Catholic Appeal.
Enjoy another day in God’s presence.