FAIRPORT — Bishop Matthew H. Clark hopes this year’s Catholic Ministries Appeal will help the Diocese of Rochester do the important work of “Building the Faith,” the theme of this year’s appeal.
“Our goal this year is $5.3 million, which is the same goal we established last year,” Bishop Clark announced at a campaign kick-off event Sept. 25 at St. John of Rochester Parish. “We’re very optimistic that we’ll achieve that goal this year, and maybe even exceed it.”
The annual appeal — formerly called the Thanks Giving Appeal — provides approximately half of the diocese’s operating budget of about $10.7 million, and appeal proceeds fund the local church’s work in four main areas, Bishop Clark said. Those areas are helping the needy, guiding and inspiring young people, supporting local parishes and spreading the good news of the Gospels.
During the kick-off event, appeal organizers played a seven-minute video they’d produced to showcase several of the ministries and programs supported by appeal proceeds. Appeal organizers hope pastoral leaders will show the video — which features cameos by diocesan officials and individuals helped by the appeal — to their parishioners during the month of October, Bishop Clark said. This year the diocese also uploaded the appeal video to the video-sharing Web site YouTube, added Doug Mandelaro, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship, Development and Communications.
“By the way, will one of you tell me how to get on YouTube sometime?” Bishop Clark asked the group of fifth- and sixth-grade students from St. John of Rochester School who attended the kick-off event. (The video can be viewed on the Internet by visiting www.youtube.com and typing “Catholic Ministries Appeal” or “Diocese of Rochester” in the search bar near the top of the site’s home page.)
Seven pastoral leaders also attended the event to show their support for the appeal.
“To say that we depend upon diocesan ministries would be an understatement. With these fellow pastoral leaders, I urge people throughout the diocese to give their full support to this year’s Catholic Ministries Appeal,” Father Peter Clifford, pastor of St. John of Rochester, said at the kickoff.
The 2006-07 Catholic Ministries Appeal raised just under $5 million but failed to meet its $5.3-million goal, said Dave Kelly, appeal coordinator and associate director of the Office of Stewardship, Development and Communications. Parishes who do not meet their individual campaign goals made up the difference with parish funds. Nonetheless, Kelly and Bishop Clark said they are confident this year’s appeal will meet its goal.
The total raised through the 2006-07 campaign was the largest amount raised in years and represented a 9 percent increase over the 2005-06 campaign’s total, Kelly told the Catholic Courier. For the first time in many years, the number of donors rose by more than 60 people, and the size of the average donation was $132, which represented a 10-percent increase from the previous campaign, he said.
“I think it means that more people are beginning to understand that their gifts can make a difference in the diocese,” Kelly said, noting that 44 parishes reached or exceeded their individual campaign goals last year, compared to just 25 the year before.
“Over the past couple years we’ve gone through a fairly extensive process to see what we think are fair and reasonable goals for a parish. The 2007-08 campaign really represents the first year of using these new goals,” Kelly said.
Appeal organizers have provided planning manuals, appeal videos and other resources to parishes, and welcome the opportunity to work with them to help them reach their goals, he added.
“I think the challenge that each one of us (pastoral leaders) faces is how to localize the appeal,” said Father John Mulligan, pastor of Rochester’s Cathedral Community and a diocesan vicar general.
Through the appeal video and other materials, appeal organizers strive to help parishioners understand that their contributions support the diocese in its collaborative work with and for the parishes, Kelly said.
“Your contribution is going to support the diocese and the parishes working together to help our needy, our youth, vocations. The diocese couldn’t do it on its own, and parishes couldn’t do it on their own,” he said. “We’re all really trying to do the same thing — to build up the faith in our local church.”