Record generosity for 2013 Annual Catholic Appeal

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The 2013 Annual Catholic Appeal with the theme, “Do You Love Me? Feed My Sheep” set a new record with collections nearing $4.6 million, the largest amount contributed since the campaign’s 1976 inception, the diocesan Development Office announced this week. Collections totaled $4,596,354 at the campaign’s close on Jan. 8, nearly 106 percent the diocesan target of $4,347,000, said Deborah Fols, director of the diocese’s Office of Development. The campaign generated pledges of $4,807,235 from 17,692 participants, 27 percent of the constituents registered in the diocese’s 57 parishes and the Korean Catholic Community. Participation increased slightly, by 1 percent, over the previous year and the average gift increased by $3.43 to $271.72. Circle of Honor membership, consisting of donors who offer gifts of $500 or more, increased from 2,474 to 2,621 contributing a total of $2,849,870 or nearly 60 percent of the total dollars pledged. Contributions of more than $51,000 were received from 64 members of the clergy for an average gift of $808. First-time donors numbering 1,758 contributed $304,495, an amount representing more than 6 percent of the total dollars pledged.

• ‘Truly gratifying’

“The success of the Appeal is yet another example of the continuing generosity of the fine people of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington,” said Bishop Malooly.  “It is truly gratifying to see that our parishioners recognize the importance of the ministries supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal. I am also grateful for the unyielding leadership and support demonstrated by our priests and the lay leadership of our parishes.”

Parishioners of 41 parishes made contributions in excess of their parish’s campaign target. Parishes that top their goal receive rebates – 50 percent of the excess to parishes that do not support a parochial school and 100 percent of the excess to those that do. This year, more than $255,000 will be returned to parishes. Contributions to the Appeal help support more than 30 ministries in Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, many of them serving people with medical, emotional, spiritual, educational and financial needs.

• Serving the vulnerable

“The varied services the Annual Catholic Appeal assists in supporting are the programs that serve the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Fritz Jones, director of operations of Catholic Charities for the diocese. “Although every story is different there are common challenges among those we serve — children and adults, who have or are experiencing abuse, isolation, hunger, homelessness, chronic unemployment, mental health disorders, crisis pregnancies, and financial difficulty.

“The Appeal helps us provide ways to help individuals and families cope with these difficult realities through case management, direct financial assistance, counseling, shelter care and homeless prevention, food assistance, basic needs such as warm winter clothing, to just name a few ways we help.” The Appeal also funds educational ministries in parishes including Catholic elementary schools and parish religious education programs and offers assistance to Catholic high schools (St. Mark’s, St. Elizabeth, Padua Academy, St. Thomas More Academy and Ss. Peter and Paul).

Pastoral services funded by the campaign include chaplains in hospitals and facilities for the aged and infirmed as well as Hispanic Ministry and the offices of Pro-Life Activities and Marriage and Family Life. “The 2013 Annual Catholic Appeal offered a tangible way to respond to Jesus’ invitation, “Do you love me? Feed my sheep,” said Louis DeAngelo, superintendent of Catholic Schools.

• Students helped

Thanks to the Appeal’s support for the Catholic Schools Office, DeAngelo said, “students were spiritually and intellectually ‘fed’ in a variety of programs, events and activities that enhanced faith formation and academic achievement. Catholic schools benefited from other ministry offices that coordinated with them in related ways.  In 2013, the Annual Catholic Appeal ‘fed’ not only our youngest disciples who will lead and serve the future church, but all of us as parishioners of the Diocese of Wilmington who chose to respond to Jesus’ invitation in love.”

William Chase, a parishioner of Immaculate Conception in Elkton, Md., has supported the campaign since 2007 and serves as a member of his parish’s Appeal Lay Committee, explained why he supports the campaign. “The Appeal is important to me personally because I know that my donation will be used to help individuals and families within our area of the diocese. I have always believed in giving back to the community and I know that my gift to the Appeal does just that. It is important for the Appeal to be successful so that individuals and families in need will find the help they deserve.”

Details of the 2014 Annual Catholic Appeal will be announced in February. Commitment Weekend is scheduled for March 29-30.