People give to Bishop’s Appeal ‘to help change a life’

Tammy Danz sees Bishop’s Appeal from ‘the inside-out’

GREEN BAY — “What I really learned when I started working here, was how many lives the Bishop’s Appeal touches and how many people and different ministries we support through the Appeal. I didn’t understand the whole scope of it until I started here.”

That’s how Tammy Danz feels about her job at the Green Bay Diocese. Danz, who has worked for the diocese since 2012, was named director of the Green Bay Diocese’s Bishop’s Appeal on July 1, 2018. She took over from Josh Diedrich, who is now executive director of the Catholic Foundation, which oversees the Appeal.

Tammy Danz, who has worked for the diocese since 2012, was named director of the Green Bay Diocese’s Bishop’s Appeal on July 1, 2018. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

Danz most recently was campaign specialist for the Appeal. She said that her years at the diocese have shown her just how many lives the Appeal touches. And she wants people in parishes — and everyone who lives in the 16 counties of the diocese — to know that as well. Through stories.

“People give to people,” she explained. “They don’t give to the Appeal because it’s the Bishop’s Appeal; they give to help someone else, to help change a life.”

The annual Appeal — this year the theme is “Missionaries of Hope” — kicked off in parishes on Feb. 2-3. The Appeal funds various ministries of the diocese: Catholic Charities, faith formation, parish leadership training, budget counseling, care ministry and ministry to Catholic students from pre-school to college-age.

Danz personally knows how the Appeal can change lives. When her own grandmother, Lillian Delfosse, needed to move to a nursing home in Algoma from her native Brussels, care ministers from St. Francis and St. Mary Parish visited regularly. And there was also monthly Mass celebrated at the home.

“It was great that she was still able to receive Jesus at the nursing home,” Danz said, “and to keep up on what was happening at the parish.  … To see that impact, makes it personal as well.” Care ministry training is funded by the Bishop’s Appeal through the Catholic Charities and Living Justice Mission Team.

Later, when Danz’ son, Matthew, started college at UW-Oshkosh, he already knew Fr. Jason Blahnik, who heads the Catholic Newman Center on campus.

“He really spent a lot of time at the Newman Center,” Danz said about Matthew. “That was a safe place to go, being away from home for the first time. That was something: to be able to see the Bishop’s Appeal dollars — money that I’m helping raise through the people in the parishes. We’re impacting a college student so that he has somewhere to go to feel comfortable and practice his faith.”

The Newman Center is funded through the Family and Schools of Discipleship Mission Team.

Danz herself came to the diocese after working in retail and in her home parish of St. Francis and St. Mary. She served there as a secretary/bookkeeper, and also taught children.

“I used to teach faith formation at my parish,” she explained, “and I had lessons and training on how to be a good catechist — all funded through the Appeal.”

Last year’s Bishop’s Appeal raised $6,074,000, the first time the drive has topped $6 million. Gifts were received from 29,690 people, with the average donation being $205. When Danz’ predecessor, Diedrich, started working with the Appeal more than 18 years ago, the average gift was $77. Danz credits Diedrich and the staff at the Appeal office with the hard work that spreads the stories of how the Appeal changes hearts and lives.

“The biggest thing,” she added, “is that the parishes and the pastors are really doing a great job of promoting it — getting the stories to the people in the pew.”

Despite the information that is shared each year about the Appeal — through videos and audio testimonies, a personal appeal from Bishop David Ricken, posters and stories shared in social media and The Compass — Danz believes that people still might not realize “the lives they are impacting” by giving to the Appeal.

She also believes that the beauty of the Appeal is that “It’s all about sacrificial giving, too. A $20 gift from one person can be as much a sacrifice as somebody else with $10,000 to give. (It’s about) getting them to understand the impact that $20 or $50 gift makes; you’re still impacting somebody else’s life.”

One of the challenges Danz and the Appeal team faced this year was the change in the staff structure at the diocese. Previously, the offices had been arranged into departments: Education, Pastoral Services and Catholic Charities, for example. Now, following the direction of the mission and vision statements the diocese issued in 2016, departments and staff have been rearranged into cross-functional teams. This means that talent that had resided in only one department is now available to every team in the diocesan structure more fluidly; directors can share staff and move people into new teams as needs arise.

The cross-functional teams that receive Bishop’s Appeal support include:

  • The Catholic Charities and Living Justice Mission Team.
  • The Families and Schools of Discipleship Mission Team.
  • The Parish Life Mission Team.
  • The Discipleship and Leadership Development Mission Team.
  • The Compass, which is part of the Resource and Support team.

The funding needed for these teams is calculated each year by the Appeal director and presented to the diocesan Presbyteral Council for approval. The council’s recommendation on funding goes to Bishop Ricken, who makes the final determination.

Besides the annual Appeal, Danz’ work includes various other appeals and collections throughout the year. These include the annual Seminarian Collection and the Retirement Collection for Religious and for diocesan Priests, as well as annual collections for Camp Tekakwitha and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.

Danz, upon reflection, refers to the diocesan vision statement: “We have a new mission — leading all households to heaven and getting everybody to the kingdom of God; that is our ultimate goal. By raising the money that we do with the Appeal, hopefully we’re able to impact that. Even if it’s just for one person, it’s worth it.”

Click here to more about donating to the Bishop’s Appeal.