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Annual Catholic Ministries Appeal launched

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March 25, 2011

By David Eck

Several times each year, local priests accompany young men to meet Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr for an evening of fellowship and prayer.


At those Andrew Dinners, which are sponsored by the archdiocesan Vocations Office, participants hear a presentation on the priesthood and are asked to consider their call to become a priest. It is an example of the work the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA) helps support.


The 2011 CMA launched the weekend of March 19-20, and area Catholics are being asked to send in their contributions and pledges to the appeal the weekend of April 2-3. The goal is $4 million, which supports six ministries.


In a recorded homily played at Masses across the archdiocese, Archbishop Schnurr invited parishioners to participate in this year’s appeal. The money helps chaplains for hospitals and prison ministry; St. Rita School for the Deaf; ministry education and promotion of vocations; Catholic Charities and social services; retired priests; and college campus ministries.


“Through the six critically needed ministries the CMA supports, we share in God’s work of feeding the physical and spiritual hungers of our brothers and sisters throughout the archdiocese,” Archbishop Schnurr said. “We share in God’s work of teaching those called to serve God and His people as priests, deacons and lay ministers. We share in God’s work of healing those whose lives are shattered by illness, imprisonment or isolation.


“Once a year, during this Lenten season of sacrifice and sharing, we come together as an archdiocese to respond generously to the Catholic Ministries Appeal,” the archbishop said. “Every dollar we give goes directly to the support of key shared ministries. Every gift is needed and valued.”


The theme of this year’s campaign — Feeding, Teaching, Healing, Sharing in the Work of God — better reflects the touchstones of the ministries and the mission of the appeal.


“We wanted to focus on the practical aspects of what we do together as church and how those concrete actions — feeding, teaching and healing — affect thousands of people every day,” said Michael Vanderburgh, director of the archdiocesan Stewardship Department. “It’s the most efficient way we can feed, teach and heal throughout the whole archdiocese while spreading the Gospel.”


The $4 million goal has remained the same since 2009. The appeal generated $3.7 million last year and $3.4 million in 2009. Despite a sluggish economy, the appeal is successful because Catholics understand that it’s important for the ministries to be effective and people are in need, said Brian Doyle, associate director of the Stewardship Department.


Each parish in the archdiocese facilitates the appeal, he explained. Parishes are assigned their own goal based on their typical weekly offertory. Pastors are encouraged to invite parishioners to participate, and many clergy members make personal contributions, including Archbishop Schnurr.


Parishioners receive a letter from Archbishop Schnurr asking them to consider a pledge or contribution of time or prayer to the appeal. Pastors may also send a follow-up letter.


Parishioners can either pay their pledge immediately or spread the payments out over six months. In addition, they may contribute through the Catholic Appeal website at www.CatholicAppeal.info. Parishes receive credit when their parishioners contribute online.


Those who participate receive cards on which they can indicate their own prayer intentions. The returned intentions are presented and offered by Archbishop Schnurr at special CMA Masses of Thanksgiving held throughout the archdiocese.


“The appeal enables us as the church to partake and be effective in ministries that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” Doyle said. “We are doing the work of God firsthand, upfront and personal through these ministries. The financial piece enables that to happen.”


No CMA funds are used for anything other than the six ministries. The largest percentage of the allocation, 27 percent, goes to ministry education, which includes education and ongoing formation of both ordained and lay pastoral administrators. The rest of the allocations are: Catholic Charities and social services, 25 percent; retired priests, 16 percent; college campus ministry, 13 percent; chaplains for hospitals and prisons, 12 percent; and St. Rita School for the Deaf, 7 percent.


The appeal is also one of the few opportunities parishioners have to participate in the wider work of the church. Parishes benefit from things like ministry education and college campus ministry, but they can’t provide them on their own, Doyle explained.


“It’s an effort that we as an archdiocese do, and there’s really no other effort that we as an archdiocese do together,” Doyle said. “There’s tremendous power in that.”


David Eck can be reached at [email protected].

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