GREEN BAY — Last year’s Bishop’s Appeal, the annual fund drive for the ministries of the Diocese of Green Bay, reached a record high mark in donations. The 2021 Bishop’s Appeal raised more than $6,305,000. The goal had been $5.4 million.
That same amount — $5.4 million — remains the goal for the 2022 campaign, which kicks off Feb. 5-6 throughout the diocese.
Tammy Danz, director of the Bishop’s Appeal, while thrilled by the generosity shown last year, also credits donors with seeing the needs around them.
“We saw that for our friends, our neighbors, our families,” she said. “And, in 2020, Pope Francis called us to use our gifts to do good and to serve God by serving others. I’m just grateful that we live in a community that truly lives the faith and serves others, especially with the generosity to the Appeal. So, was I surprised? No. Am I grateful? Absolutely. This is the highest we have ever raised for the Appeal.”
The theme for the 2022 Bishop’s Appeal is “Hearts filled with Hope.”
Bishop Ricken, in his message to open the current Bishop’s Appeal, noted that, “This is certainly a time for hope. In the past two years, we have been through so much and yet we have never let go of our hope in Jesus Christ.” (See bishop’s column on page 3.)
Monies raised by the Bishop’s Appeal, outside of operating expenses, go entirely to fund services offered by the diocese. These services are offered by ministry teams that make up the diocesan Curia, including Catholic Charities, Education, Catholic Schools and Families Discipleship and Parish Life, Clergy and Parish Leadership and The Compass newspaper.
When asked why this theme — “Hearts filled with Hope” — was chosen, Danz explained that it was inspired by “the generosity of our donors and the incredible people who serve in the ministries. People serve so beautifully and truly that their hearts are filled with the hope of our Lord. And hope is needed so much right now. … Yes, hope is exactly where it’s at right now. It’s what we’re living.”
Each year, a Bishop’s Appeal video is made to showcase the ministries around the diocese that are supported in some way by the Appeal. This year, Danz said, the video focuses on faith formation efforts in one parish — St. Thomas More in Appleton — and by the diocesan Hispanic ministry headed by Sr. Martha Escobar. (To see the video, visit catholicfoundationgb.org/bishops-appeal-video.)
“Teaching the children and the parents together, how to live the Gospel, is central to growing the Kingdom of God,” Danz said about St. Thomas More Parish. “They actually have the families come on Wednesday nights. They pray together, and then the kids go off to their classes and the parents stay in the church. Deacon Lincoln Wood (pastoral leader) does a little class with them, so they learn a little more about our faith, and then also how to take this outside of the church walls, to pray together at home and to pray as a family.”
Danz pointed out that the work of St. Thomas More Parish and Sr. Martha, as well as many of the ministries offered in parishes would not be possible without generous donors. The record amount raised in 2021 came from 27,300 donors, with the average gift amounting to $231, an 8% increase over the average gift in 2020.
“This money goes to help others and to get help out through our ministries,” Danz said. “So ‘thank you’ doesn’t seem like a big enough phrase to express our gratitude for the generosity of the people of northeast Wisconsin. But, as always, ‘Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!’ for all you do to live out your faith by loving and caring for all those who are serving and all those who are served by the ministries of the Appeal.”
While the average gift was $231, Danz does not expect the same amount from each donor. Instead, she stressed the importance of individual circumstances, especially given the uncertain economy and other factors like jobs and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We ask people to always pray about their gift,” she said. “Whatever they can give, whatever God is calling them to give through their prayer, that is what we use. Those who can give will, and for those who have to cut back, we understand.”
Like everyone else, the Appeal made changes in these uncertain times. Changes included livestreaming the annual Bishop’s Appeal Mass and luncheon last fall, more Zoom meetings and social media contact, as well as a weekly virtual meeting every Thursday morning with parishes for questions and feedback.
“We could shift gears and give them what they needed,” Danz said, adding that she has also seen parishes using more options, such as “Flocknote” (a parish texting and email service), online parish newsletters and more social media usage.
“So, there’s kind of been a little bit of a silver lining in the pandemic,” she noted. “Now, even as we head out of the pandemic, I don’t think that these types of resources are going away.”
Every registered Catholic household in the Green Bay Diocese will receive an Appeal letter from Bishop Ricken in early February and can make their pledge on the enclosed card. People can also make gifts online at catholicfoundationgb.org/give.
Again, Danz stressed, there is no “suggested” donation.
“What we want people to know is that we are asking them for ‘equal sacrifice,’ not ‘equal giving,’” she said. “We know that everyone can’t make the same size gift, but we’re asking each person to pray to God and ask what he’s calling them to give.
“And, no matter what size that gift is, it makes a difference,” she added. “When we all come together, with our hearts filled with hope, we can collectively do so much more than we could individually.”
For more information about the Bishop’s Appeal, see catholicfoundationgb.org/bishops-appeal.