In this screenshot from the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal video, Msgr. Edward Arnister, pastor of St. Rose, Belmar, and parishioner Michael Yuschak review the parish’s livestreaming equipment. Rebates from the past Appeal were used to provide this technology as well as other projects.  Staff photo
In this screenshot from the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal video, Msgr. Edward Arnister, pastor of St. Rose, Belmar, and parishioner Michael Yuschak review the parish’s livestreaming equipment. Rebates from the past Appeal were used to provide this technology as well as other projects. Staff photo
With February comes the launch of the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal, and in asking for support, the Diocese of Trenton’s shepherd recognizes that the past year has been unlike any other.

“I’m mindful that I am coming to you during a time that has been and remains very challenging. The toll that the coronavirus has had on so many of our families … has been immeasurable,” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., says in this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal video, which will be launched diocesan-wide Feb. 13 and 14.

“Through it all, we can thankfully say that we, the Church, are still here, and our mission, given to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago, remains the same.”

That mission is highlighted in the Appeal video, which focuses on extraordinary catechesis and evangelization efforts over the past year such as improved technology for livestreaming Masses; video conferencing in schools and parishes for religious education; the sanitization of churches and schools during COVID-19, and the continued good works of Catholic social service agencies around Diocese’s four counties.

In times of such need, the Bishop says, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta comes to mind, whose words are the theme for the 2021 Appeal: “I can do things you cannot; you can do things I cannot; but together we can do great things.” 

As such, this year’s Appeal goal is $6.5 million. Similar to the 2020 campaign, the faithful can again designate their gifts to a specific ministry: priests, deacons and religious; community outreach; teaching the faith, or the ministry where it is needed most. Last year, an overwhelming majority gave to the ministries in need category, said Steve Nicholl, director of the diocesan Department of Development.

There are multiple ways to donate – online, mail or phone – and new tools to help expedite the process. The 2021 Appeal postcards, for example, carry a QR code that takes the faithful directly to the Annual Catholic Appeal website, dioceseoftrenton.org/catholicappeal.

Potential donors can also text catholicappeal to 609-403-3323. Checks, debit and major credit cards are accepted as well as payment systems such as PayPal, Apple Pay and Venmo.

“We are very excited to be offering three forms of digital wallets this year for accepting gifts, along with traditional forms of payment,” Nicholl said. 

Nicholl is optimistic for the 2021 Appeal, especially since the 2020 campaign raised $5.6 million of its $7 million goal during the pandemic year. This is $150,000 less that the $5.7 raised in 2019 and $500,000 less than the 2018 appeal – only a slight decrease considering the challenging pandemic year.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of the 2020 appeal,” he said. “When the pandemic shut down much of our Diocese, we could not imagine the generous response by the loyal parishioners.”

In addition, 38 of the Diocese’s 98 parishes exceeded their 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal goal. Parishes that reach their goal receive a 15 percent rebate; those that surpass it receive half the amount collected over goal as an additional rebate.

Overall rebates to parishes are estimated to be $475,000. Funding from these rebates often go toward parish ministries or maintenance needs, community outreach and more.

“I am profoundly grateful for your past generosity and for whatever support you can provide for the significant work that lies ahead,” Bishop O’Connell says in the 2021 Appeal video. “We are the Church … we are still here for you.”