At a time when inflation continues to put a strain on household budgets, generous supporters of the Diocese’s Annual Catholic Appeal helped the campaign reach 84 percent of its goal as of Aug. 31, drawing expressions of appreciation from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and pastors alike.

Organizers point out that while there is much to be grateful for, the effort to meet the $6.5 million goal must continue in this final phase of the campaign. As explained by Steve Nicholl, director of the Department of Development, “The needs are too great and the work is too important for us to slow down on our outreach and attempts to connect with the faithful of the Diocese.”

That priority is driving the campaign’s final phase, in which all those who have not yet pledged a gift to the Appeal are asked to consider doing so now.  A letter from Bishop O’Connell has been sent to those who have not responded to the appeal in which he writes: “Your generosity is always needed to provide the resources necessary to help our sisters and brothers know and love God through you. We need God’s love today more than ever.”

The Bishop’s letter added, “May God bless you for your past generosity and for whatever you can provide for the vital work that lies ahead.”

Engaging all prospective donors

Christine Prete, associate director of development, reported that many members of the Diocese have responded even more generously to the 2022 Appeal than they have in the past. “Knowing the financial challenges that many face, that is a wonderful testament to their commitment to the work of the Diocese and the parishes,” she said.

However, she added, the number of donors is down by 4,000 in this most recent campaign, which the Development Department is still trying to build on. Prete said, “No gift is too small. But it’s important to get everyone involved in this effort.”

While the Appeal helps to fund many critical diocesan programs and ministries that help the local Church conduct its mission, the parishes also stand to benefit when the campaign’s goals are realized.  When a parish reaches its Appeal goal, it receives 15 percent of that amount as well as 50 percent for anything raised over that goal in parish rebates. 

According to Prete, 42 parishes reached their 2021 goal, and rebates paid back to the parishes totaled $674,671, ranging from $3,300 to $41,866 per parish. 

Parish rebates make a difference

Parishes experiencing financial strain are particularly grateful to receive that money, often using it to pay regular expenses, like utilities. In other cases, the money helps to cover unexpected needs – like snow removal after a large storm – or to cover a shortfall in collections after the holidays, as reported by St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown.

Other parishes have been able to dedicate the rebate money toward special needs.  St. William the Abbot Parish, Howell, reported that parishioner-requested improvement projects funded, in part, by the rebates from the ACA, include a new church roof and painting; parking lot improvements; a new carillon bell system; purchase of an image of Our Lady, and the addition of new shed for needed storage.

Father Thomas F. Maher, pastor, stated, “St. William looks forward to meeting and exceeding our goal once again in 2022!”

Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown, spent rebate money on an updated camera and sound system for the livestream that runs around the clock.

George Loder of St. Peter Parish, Point Pleasant Beach, notes that the parish’s goal is to spend the rebate money on improvement to the capital plant and parish campus.  Keeping parishioners apprised of how the money is spent is also a priority, he said.

Loder, a newly appointed member of the parish finance committee, reported that the rebate-funded projects from last year included: Repair of sidewalks around the campus; installation of a new air conditioning unit in the parish community center;  creation of a chapel in the school for the students to attend religious services during the school day; rebuild an old walk-in refrigerator in the cafeteria, and new heating unit installed in the Convent for our Sisters of St Joseph nuns who reside in the building.

Father Ed Blanchett, pastor of Visitation Parish, said, “I am especially grateful to our parishioners for their generosity to the Annual Catholic Appeal as the rebate provides much-needed funds and – as can only happen in accordance with God’s good time – seems to arrive when especially needed for an unexpected expense!

“However,” he continued, “we have been able to devote some of the rebate towards parish repair and improvements as well. For example, this summer we had discovered that our well-water sprinkler system had suffered unexpected damage due to parking lot work. The rebate not only allowed us to effect repairs and restore the lawn but supplemented the purchase of ornamental plants that helped to further provide an inviting atmosphere to our church as well.”

To learn more, or to make a gift to the ACA, visit: [email protected];