GREECE — Emphasizing ministry to Catholics of the past, present and future, the Catholic Ministries Appeal is kicking off its 26th year. Parishes throughout the Rochester Diocese are launching the 2006-07 program throughout October in an effort to reach the goal of $5.3 million.
Known since its founding as the Thanks Giving Appeal, or TGA, the annual fundraising drive was called the Diocesan Ministries Appeal/TGA last year. Bishop Matthew H. Clark said the campaign’s name was changed to Catholic Ministries Appeal, or CMA, to better indicate to donors where their donations are going.
CMA funds numerous departments, programs, services and ministries for nearly 200 parishes and faith communities in the diocese’s 12 counties.
“It really supplies about half of our operational budget,” Bishop Clark said during a press conference Sept. 25 at Our Mother of Sorrows Church.
CMA brochures and pledge cards are now going out to the approximately 120,000 Catholic households in the diocese. According to Dave Kelly, who serves as CMA coordinator, the 2005-06 appeal raised just under $4.5 million from more than 37,000 donors.
This year’s campaign brochure notes the vast number of people who benefitted from appeal monies last year: 31,556 children in parish religious-education programs; 6,767 students at diocesan Catholic schools; 250,000 needy people aided by Catholic Charities offices; 1,419 people in marriage preparation; 1,725 youths attending retreats, rallies, workshops and conventions; six men ordained to the permanent and transitional diaconates; 815 high-school seniors receiving Hands of Christ service awards; 486 couples celebrating 25-plus years of marriage at the annual jubilee Mass; and 557 people from 89 parishes who were welcomed into the church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
“In one way or another, (the appeal) touches every Catholic in the diocese,” said Doug Mandelaro, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship, Development and Communications.
This year’s CMA theme is “A Time to Share, For Generations to Come.” A promotional video, which has been distributed to parishes and also may be viewed online at www.dor.org, illustrates how the Catholic faith has been vital to people through many parts of their lives. Included in the video are comments from Bishop Clark, accompanied by pictures from his childhood.
“We did something a little different — people reflecting on their Catholic upbringing. The message is that we’re trying to convince people that by supporting ministries in the Diocese of Rochester, we’re carrying on for generations in the future,” Kelly said.
Along those lines, Our Mother of Sorrows was selected as the site for the Sept. 25 press conference due to its standing as the oldest parish in the diocese. Father Alexander Bradshaw, pastor, noted that descendants of several founding families remain active at the parish, which was founded in 1829.
“Our parents and grandparents helped build up our churches and schools with their sweat and tears, scrimping and saving so that the next generation and the next could enjoy fine church schools and church buildings and, above all, the fruits of our faith,” Bishop Clark wrote in his “Along the Way” column in the September Catholic Courier. “The need for this kind of energy and support is no less now. The obligation to keep the church strong for the next generation is no smaller now.”
Mandelaro and Kelly said it’s important not only to retain previous appeal donors but also convince people who didn’t make a gift how much the diocese needs their contribution.
“It’s crucial that they help us,” Mandelaro said.
“The parishes couldn’t manage without the diocese, any more than the diocese could exist without the parishes,” Father Bradshaw added.
As in the past two years, parishes will be responsible for making up out of parish operating funds any shortfalls between their assigned quotas and the actual amounts raised from the parishes.
“Responsibility of parishes to make up the difference is nothing we want to have happen,” Bishop Clark said, but added that “it’s even more difficult to cut services.”
The $5.3 million goal remains unchanged from last year. Although the appeal didn’t reach its goal for 2005-06, Bishop Clark said he is hopeful that better days lie ahead, especially because diocesan Catholics now are further along in their financial commitments to Partners in Faith. The capital campaign ended in 2004, raising more than $55 million, well above its goal of $50 million.
Mandelaro said he’s impressed that many people have continued supporting the annual appeal even though their budgets were stretched by donations to such other worthy causes as hurricane relief in 2005. Mandelaro also cited the downsizing of corporations and rising of gas prices as further challenges.
“People are challenged financially, and despite that, they give. It’s a committed pool of donors,” he said.
Those wishing to contribute to the Catholic Ministries Appeal may drop off gifts and pledges at their parishes, or mail them directly to: 1150 Buffalo Road, Rochester, NY 14624. For further details or to make a gift online, visit the diocesan Web site, www.dor.org or call the Office of Stewardship, Development and Communications at 585/328-3228, ext. 1297.