Appeal theme mirrors Catholic way of life
Believers are called to offer a helping hand to Appeal and daily
First in a series on Bishop's Appeal
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
BISHOP'S APPEAL USE: The above pie chart shows how contributions to the 2003 Bishop's Appeal were divided among diocesan departments.
"Offering a Helping Hand" is not only the theme for the 2004 Bishop's Appeal, but is what we are called to do as Catholics, said Ron Shaha, director of the Bishop's Appeal.
"For example, we can offer a helping hand by simply smiling at someone we pass on the street or by physically helping residents at a nursing home," he said. "We can also take that helping hand and join more than 40,000 other sets of hands by giving to the Bishop's Appeal to help those in need."
Some examples of diocesan ministries supported by the Bishop's Appeal, the diocese's annual fund-raising effort, include mental health services through Catholic Charities, Marriage Preparation, teacher training through Total Catholic Education, assistance for refugees and immigrants, support for a mission in the Dominican Republic, Disabilities Ministry, sacred music programs through Pastoral Services, Hispanic outreach, deacon formation, the weekly TV Mass and The Compass. (See adjacent chart showing how the Appeal funds are divided among diocesan departments.)
Bp. David Zubik said he hopes the people of the diocese are as generous to the Appeal as they have been to him since his installation as bishop on Dec. 12.
"As a newcomer in the diocese embarking on the first Bishop's Appeal following my becoming the bishop of the Green Bay Diocese, I am very much struck by the hospitality and generosity of the people," he said. "Everywhere I have visited, people have been very welcoming and inviting. I sincerely hope that hospitality and generosity will find the faithful of the diocese contributing to the Bishop's Appeal. In turn, as a church, it will help us to reach out to help even more people."
What: Bishop's Appeal, the Green Bay Diocese's annual fund-raiser to support diocesan programs and services offered to parishes and individuals.
Where: All parishes in the diocese.
When: Right now.
How: Making a cash, check, credit card (MasterCard, Visa and Discover) or pledge donation. Materials have been sent to homes and also are available through parishes. Some employers offer matching gift programs, for which Catholic Charities may qualify, since it serves the general public; additional information is available through Human Resources departments.
Theme: Offering a Helping Hand.
Target: $4.8 million.
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The target for the 2004 Bishop's Appeal is $4.8 million, equivalent to the 2003 target. Last year, the average donation was $107.
"We were very pleased with the support of last year's Appeal," said Shaha. "The amount
of the average gift was tremendous in light of tough times throughout Northeast Wisconsin. This year, we obviously would like to see an increase in the average gift and the number of gifts, but any size donation is appreciated. Every little bit helps. It allows us to accomplish the mission of the church."
The 2004 Bishop's Appeal kicks off this weekend, Feb. 7-8. A video showcasing services supported by the Bishop's Appeal has been sent to all diocesan parishes. Bp. Zubik also recorded an audio homily discussing the Appeal. Pastors, parish directors and parish
staff members are encouraged play the homily and show the video during Mass or make it available to parishioners. Bishop's Appeal brochures were also provided to all parishes.
"Show the video, if possible, whether it's at Mass or at small meetings," said Shaha. "The video is a way to help everyone understand the impact of the Appeal."
Camp Tekawitha and Befrienders, two programs supported by the Bishop's Appeal, are featured on the video. In addition to parishes, the Development office of the Diocese of Green Bay has copies available for those interested.
Matching gifts to the Bishop's Appeal continue to increase. Shaha encourages Appeal supporters to ask employers if they offer matching funds. A matching gift form, available from the company, may be sent with the employer's gift to the Appeal. Some companies will not provide a matching gift for religious purposes, but will provide a match for services by Catholic Charities, which receives funding from the Bishop's Appeal.
Services provided by Catholic Charities continue to grow. Last year, state-certified therapists helped more than 3,000 people with mental illness. Of those assisted, 43% did not have health insurance.
"Without Catholic Charities, where would they go?" said Shaha. "Who would help these people? Chances are they would not get the help they need. Gifts to the Bishop's Appeal support these services."
Last year, 3,796 Appeal donors made pledge gifts. Shaha would like to see an increase in 2004.
"It offers people the opportunity to give a comfortable amount each month," he said. "If you give $50 each month for 10 months, that's a donation of $500 allowing you to reach the
Crozier Society level (for persons who give $500 or more). If you give $10 a month for 10 months, you reach the $100 level."
"We accept credit cards - Visa, MasterCard and Discover," he continued. "We can set up a pledge gift using a credit card. The donor doesn't have to think about it. We can deduct
the desired amount once a month on a particular date. It's an option for people to consider."
The Bishop's Appeal, first implemented as a fund-raising campaign in the diocese approximately 30 years ago, continues to provide for 50% of the diocese's operating expenses.
"Thanks for your continued support," said Shaha. "We encourage people to give proportionately to the Appeal and to give from the heart. Every gift helps."
For more information, contact Shaha at (920)437-7531 or 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8196; P.O. Box 23825, Green Bay 54305-3825; e-mail: [email protected]; or go online to: www.gbdioc.org.