Campaign set to launch in parishes Feb. 15-16

“Where would we be without an awareness of God in our lives?”

That is the question that Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., asks in his video message for the 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal that is set to launch in all parishes Feb. 15 and 16.

Citing studies that report a growing number of Americans who do not practice their faith, or do not believe in God, Bishop O’Connell states, “It’s our job, as Disciples of Christ, to make it known that God is real and alive in the world today, and is the only answer to our needs.

“We are living examples of Jesus by the way we practice and live our faith. By making our whole life a prayer and receiving the gifts that God gives us, we can share these gifts with others, helping them to know that God does exist in their lives,” said Bishop O’Connell.

In introducing the Appeal, Bishop O’Connell reflected on its theme – a message taken from St. Augustine: “God gives where he finds empty hands.”

“As Christians, we are called to do the same,” he said, and “this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal is a new and impactful way you can share Christ with others.”

The video, which will be screened at all Masses on Appeal Weekend, will highlight the many ministries and programs supported by the campaign, which has a goal this year of $7 million.  Parishioners will also be invited to make their in-pew contribution on Appeal Weekend by using the pledge cards that have been provided to all parishes. Parishioners who wish to discern their contribution may do so by reviewing other promotional resources that have also been made available, including a brochure and letter from Bishop O’Connell that were mailed to all Catholic households within the four-county Diocese or by viewing the website: dioceseoftrenton.org/catholicappeal.

According to Steve Nicholl, director of the diocesan Department of Development, and Christine Prete, associate director, changes have been made to the 2020 Appeal to give donors the opportunity to customize their gift, selecting the specific ministry/ministries they wish to support. They may choose from the following areas of ministry:  (1) Priests Deacons and Religious; (2) Community Outreach, and (3) Teaching the Faith; or donors may ask that their gift be directed to support the ministry where it is most needed.

Reviewing the 2019 Appeal, Nicholl and Prete reported that as of Jan. 31, $5.9 million had been raised in pledges toward the $7 million goal, and that 31 of the Diocese’s 99 parishes had exceeded their campaign goal. Nicholl was pleased to note that the payment on pledges had reached more than 98 percent, which is an increase from past years’ ranges at 96 percent or 97 percent.

Recapping how parishes benefit from the ACA, Nicholl said that those that reach their goal will receive a 15 percent rebate, and those that exceed their goal will receive half the amount collected over goal as an additional rebate. Parishes use rebates for a wide range of activities, including but not limited to, funding youth ministry activities, community outreach, maintenance projects, and many other unfunded needs that require attention. 

Along with the ACA, Nicholl and Prete also gave an update on the Diocese’s $75 million Faith to Move Mountains Endowment Campaign, saying that they are grateful that donors continue to pay on the pledges they made three-to-five years ago. To date, the Diocese has received more than $52 million in cash for this campaign. In addition to funding the six Diocesan Endowment Case Elements, parish rebates are used to fund many parish ministries, including but not limited to: develop and enhance faith formation programs for children, young adults, and adults; facility maintenance and sustainability; capital improvements and stewardship of facilities and grounds; faith formation and evangelization programs; endowment for Catholic education scholarships and tuition assistance, and many other projects.