ROCHESTER — Bishop Salvatore R. Matano confirms young people. Catholic-school students exit a bus. Volunteers assist at a food pantry and with a mobile food distribution. Several men participate in their deacon ordination Mass.
Scenes such as these, included in a new video for the Catholic Ministries Appeal, all feature folks wearing face masks — vividly illustrating that this is no ordinary year for the local Catholic Church. Yet they also reflect that even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the many vital programs, services and ministries of the Diocese of Rochester are still bearing fruit.
Such continuity is made possible, in large part, through diocesan Catholics’ financial support of the CMA, which is now in its 40th year.
“The mission and the purpose of the Catholic Ministries Appeal is the same as it was in 1981, and it continues to be just as important,” said Colleen Brade, campaign coordinator.
The 2020-21 appeal is getting underway in parishes across the 12-county diocese during October and will run through May 31, 2021. This year’s goal is $6.725 million — the same amount as in 2019-20 when, according to the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Communications, the CMA raised nearly 91 percent of goal, with a total of approximately $6.1 million received from more than 22,000 donors.
CMA proceeds fund more than half of the diocesan budget, fully or partially supporting efforts that parishes would struggle to afford on their own. Among CMA-supported initiatives are: programs that support faith formation for children and adults; young-adult ministries; Catholic schools; sacramental preparation; youth and campus ministries; diocesan Catholic Charities and its 10 regional offices and agencies; information technology; chaplaincies; social-ministry efforts; support of deacons, pastoral leaders and vocations, including formation and education through St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry; parish support ministries; the operations and services of the diocesan Pastoral Center; and the ministries of the Vatican, the U.S. bishops and Bishop Matano.
In addition to direct-mail contributions, electronic giving options for the CMA are being emphasized; one example is Text to Give via mobile phone, with instructions available at www.dor.org/giving/text-to-give.
Brade emphasized that all donations, large and small, are vital to the campaign’s success. Acknowledging that the pandemic has crippled the finances of many local Catholics, she said that “I’m encouraging people to just do their best” while hoping for an outcome similar to that of the 2019-20 campaign, when CMA support remained strong even as the onset of COVID-19 disrupted its final months.
“Remarkably, people continued to send those pledge payments in,” she said.
In fact, Doug Mandelaro, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Communications, noted that the average CMA gift increased for the 15th consecutive year, reaching an all-time high of $276. Mandelaro added that 99.5 percent of the 2019-20 pledges were fulfilled, which he said “is just incredible.”
This year’s CMA campaign theme is “Christ Our Light.” Brade said that the theme was selected as a positive response to a chapter of diocesan history made challenging by the pandemic and the diocese’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. Bishop Matano announced the bankruptcy filing in September 2019 as a result of numerous lawsuits filed against it after New York state’s Child Victims Act took effect one month earlier.
Mandelaro emphasized, however, that “all funds raised in the CMA are used for programs, services and ministries. No CMA contributions are used for the settlement of legal cases.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Contributions to the CMA can be made by mail using parish-provided envelopes, or online at www.dor.org/cma. The website also features the CMA promotional video, answers to frequently asked questions, an annual report and a breakdown of CMA allocations. Checks (made payable to the Catholic Ministries Appeal), credit cards, electronic-fund transfers and appreciated securities are all accepted. For more details, contact Colleen Brade at 585-328-3210, ext. 1326, or firstname.lastname@example.org.