Fry is one of the people featured on the 2012 Bishop’s Appeal video, which will be seen in many parishes starting this weekend as the 2012 Appeal kicks off on Feb. 4-5. CHRP, a program started in Ohio, first began in the Green Bay Diocese in 2008 at Stella Maris Parish in Door County. Since then, it has spread to many parishes and is overseen by the diocesan Department of Stewardship and Pastoral Services and Deb Wegner-Hohensee, parish planning director.
“And that’s just one ministry here in the Green Bay Diocese,” said Josh Diedrich, director of the Bishop’s Appeal campaign. “We have hundreds of ministries that impact people’s lives, just like CHRP does.”
And many of those hundreds of ministries of the diocese which, in turn, support its parishes and schools, are supported by gifts to the annual Bishop’s Appeal.
“The impact of Bishop’s Appeal is every day,” Fr. John Bergstadt, pastor of St. John, notes on the video. “It isn’t like one big thing. Everyday, myself or people on the staff have occasion to contact the diocese. We don’t have the resources that the diocese has.”
Those resources are supported by contributions to the campaign’s annual goal, which this year is $5 million. More than $1 million of that goes to support the Department of Education, not only for students in diocesan schools and religious education programs, but also for adult education programs and faith formation of youth and young adults and training of catechists.
“What we tried to share this year is that, whether I’m making a gift to Bishop’s Appeal or to my parish, it’s important to understand how that money is being used,” said Diedrich.
This is why half of this year’s video is devoted to an overview of diocesan services, as are many of the other Appeal materials, from an audio homily by Bishop Ricken, provided for all the parishes, to posters and brochures, to online information at the website for the Catholic Foundation of the Green Bay Diocese: www.catholic foundationgb.org. This year’s video is already posted there, as is last year’s Appeal video.
The theme for the 2012 Bishop’s Appeal is “Renewed in Christ,” which clearly grew out of the widespread enthusiasm for Christ Renews His Parish.
“It’s always important for us to renew ourselves in our faith,” Diedrich added.
The $5 million goal is the same as it has been for the past three years. Diedrich said it was not raised in 2012 because Bishop Ricken and his advisors realized that “times continue to be challenging for people.”
Nonetheless, 800 families have already made early gifts to the Appeal, totaling $755,000 and Diedrich takes that as a promising sign for a repeat of last year’s success, which saw the goal exceeded by $19,000.
There was also a slight uptick in the number of people giving to the 2011 Appeal: 33,000 families and individuals. Diedrich said that the average gift was also up slightly, from $139 in 2010 to $150 in 2011. “The generosity of people here in northeast Wisconsin is unmatched in my opinion,” he said.
Parishes are asked to promote the Appeal over a four to six-week period, especially during Sunday Masses. Diedrich asks parishes to focus on how they locally have benefitted from services provided by the diocese: from training and support for deacons to education opportunities for volunteer catechists to business workshops for parish staff and sacramental preparation materials.
Perhaps one of the most visible services in local communities is Catholic Charities. A large portion of Appeal funds supports the work of Catholic Charities, which has a presence around the diocese, including full-time offices in Green Bay, the Fox Cities, Marinette, Oshkosh and Manitowoc as well as various outreach sites. Catholic Charities, which receives nearly $1 million from the Appeal, provides a spectrum of services from mental health counseling to adoption services and parenting services to budget counseling. They also run the McCormick Home for seniors in Green Bay.
Catholic Charities does not turn anyone away because of lack of funds. In many ways, people who have run out of insurance or other resources “look to the church for help have nowhere else to turn,” Diedrich noted.
The Catholic Foundation has set up a variety of ways people can make gifts to the Bishop’s Appeal. All gift options can be found at www.catholicfoundation gb.org.