Buoyed by a solid jump in per-person contributions, the 2008-09 diocesan Catholic Ministries Appeal has seen a healthy response during its first four weeks.
Appeal coordinator David Kelly said that as of Oct. 27, a total of approximately $1.735 million had been pledged. This represents 32 percent of the appeal’s overall goal of $5.39 million, and slightly exceeds the $1.717-million mark achieved at a comparable point in the prior year’s campaign.
The average gift thus far has been $135, a rise of $12 per donor compared to results at the same time last year. This increase has helped offset a drop in the overall number of pledges received. Nearly 13,000 pledges have been received thus far, running nearly 1,000 behind last year’s pace of 13,880.
Although it’s too early to tell whether the 2008-09 Catholic Ministries Appeal will reach its goal, Kelly said that at this point “we’re right on target.” Although the campaign runs through May 31, 2009, organizers expect approximately 90 percent of the overall total to be committed by Dec. 31.
Kelly noted that CMA donations thus far have ranged from $5 to a gift of $20,000, including one $15,000 donation and a pair of $10,000 contributions. He acknowledged that many donors are affected by a struggling worldwide economy, but pointed out that past appeal campaigns have been successful despite competition for donors’ dollars by such initiatives as the diocese’s own Partners in Faith capital campaign and relief efforts related to Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I think this represents a commitment on the part of Catholics in the diocese to support the ministries and people in need during these times,” Kelly said. “It’s when people need assistance the most. I hope this is a sign that people who are able are stepping up.”
Bishop Matthew H. Clark acknowledged the poor economy during a Sept. 22 kickoff press conference, appealing to diocesan Catholics 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.”
Brochures and pledge cards have been distributed to the approximately 120,000 Catholic households in the diocese. In addition, personal appeals are being made in parishes. Kelly thanked all diocesan Catholics who have donated up to this point, and asked for other people to “consider giving toward all the great things we do at the diocese.” More than half of CMA proceeds is returned to parishes to help with their operations and ministries, he said.
The 2008-09 CMA theme is “Our Faith, Our Future.” This is the 28th year of the appeal — formerly known as the Thanks Giving Appeal — under Bishop Clark. Appeal proceeds account for slightly more than half of the diocesan operating budget, which last year stood at $10.7 million. The 2008-09 CMA garnered 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. It marked the fourth consecutive year that overall collections have risen.
Appeal funds support programs, services and ministries throughout the 12-county diocese. The projected breakdown for 2008-09 CMA allocations is as follows:
* Diocesanwide administrative and support services (hospital chaplaincies, stewardship, finance, information technology, etc.) — 19 percent
* Parish Support Ministries (liturgical, urban, rural, multicultural and jail services, subsidies and programs) — 18 percent
* Pastoral Center operation and services — 15 percent
* Catholic Charities (support for 10 regional offices and agencies throughout the diocese) — 13 percent
* Faith formation (sacramental preparation, adult education, campus, CYO, young-adult and youth-ministry programs) — 10 percent
* Bishop’s ministry/pastoral planning (bishop’s office, consultative councils and planning services) — 10 percent
* CMA campaign costs (staff, materials, data processing and postage) — 6 percent
* Catholic schools (support for programs, aid to students and schools) — 5 percent
* Human resources (staff recruitment and training, support to St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry) — 4 percent
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.