ROCHESTER — Expressing confidence that strong support of the Catholic Ministries Appeal will prevail over a struggling economy, Bishop Matthew H. Clark has launched the 2008-09 appeal with a theme of “Our Faith, Our Future” and an announced goal of $5.39 million.
“We are mindful of asking for that in an economic time that’s very challenging,” Bishop Clark said during a kickoff press conference held Sept. 22 at St. Michael Church. The bishop said he’s asking Catholics in the diocese to “do what they’re able to do, and not more. And if people do what they can, I’m sure we’ll be in good shape at the end of this appeal.”
This is the 28th year of the Catholic Ministries Appeal — formerly known as the Thanks Giving Appeal — under Bishop Clark. He noted that appeal proceeds account for slightly more than half of the diocesan operating budget, which last year stood at $10.7 million.
Brochures and pledge cards for the new appeal soon will be distributed to the approximately 120,000 Catholic households in the diocese. In addition, personal appeals will be made in parishes over a period of several weeks. The campaign will officially conclude on May 31, 2009.
According to diocesan officials, last year’s CMA netted its best response in history, breaking the $5 million barrier for the first time as parishioners pledged $5.2 million toward a goal of $5.3 million. This exceeded the 2006-07 total by $300,000 and marked the fourth straight year that overall collections have risen. More than 37,000 gifts were received for the 2007-08 campaign.
CMA funds serve to benefit more than 350,000 Catholics in this diocese. Among the ministries supported are the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults; faith formation; support of families as well as the elderly, sick, poor, homeless, and hungry; Catholic Charities; Catholic education; religious vocations; marriage and pre-Cana programs; communications media; teaming with other dioceses; supporting the Vatican; and services and support to parishes.
Bishop Clark noted that St. Michael Church was chosen for the kickoff press conference in keeping with the “Our Faith, Our Future” theme. He observed that the stately structure in northeast Rochester, founded by German Catholics, is now home to a growing Hispanic population.
“This church is extremely important in our diocesan history, but is also a symbol of our future,” Bishop Clark said.
Deacon Daniel Hurley, St. Michael’s pastoral administrator, said CMA funds have helped his church carry out initiatives in such areas as youth ministry and neighborhood outreach. Deacon Hurley further noted that he ministered for many years in the Southern Tier and can vouch for the appeal’s ability to strengthen all 12 counties of the diocese.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about the Catholic Ministries Appeal, call 1-800-388-7177, ext. 1297, or e-mail email@example.com. To give online, visit www.dor.org.