Appeal targets $5 million for the first time
After hitting the mark last year and raising a record amount, the bar goes higher for 2006
First in a series on the Bishop's Appeal
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
|WHERE IT GOES: Pie chart shows how gifts to the 2005 Bishop's Appeal were allocated to the diocesan departments for the 2005-06 budget year. (Catholic Foundation graphic)
Building on last year's success, the target for the 2006 Bishop's Appeal will be $5 million for the first time in the more than 30-year history of the campaign.
Bishop's Appeal 2005 surpassed its target - for the first time since 1999 - and set an all-time high in dollars raised, $4,817,002.
"Every year, we see the generosity of thousands of people throughout Northeastern Wisconsin," said Josh Diedrich, director of the Bishop's Appeal. "Last year was a good example. In addition to the appeal, almost $1 million was collected in the diocese for tsunami relief, and more than $1 million was raised for the hurricane victims. You don't see that type of generosity everywhere."
"It's a wonderful testament to the faith of the people here," he added. "We really appreciate all the support. People are giving back in response to what God has given them. That's stewardship of sharing."
The 2006 Bishop's Appeal kicks off this weekend, Feb. 4-5, at diocesan parishes. All parishes received a video highlighting "Sharing Our Faith," this year's campaign theme. The video features a message from Bp. David Zubik, and stories about Steve Meyer of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Green Bay, who is pursuing the diaconate, and the intergenerational faith formation program at St. John-Sacred Heart Parish, Sherwood, St. Mary Parish, Hilbert, and St. Mary Parish, Stockbridge.
"I hope people take from the video a better understanding of a couple of the programs that are being supported by the Bishop's Appeal," said Diedrich. "For example, when considering the story about the diaconate formation program, I hope people see how these men reach out and impact other people's lives through their ministry."
Parishes are encouraged to show the video at Mass or offer other opportunities for members to view it. The video is also available online at www.gbdioc.org. Those interested in
obtaining a copy of the video may contact Diedrich at [email protected].
While 2005 was a record year in the total amount received for the Bishop's Appeal, Diedrich would like to see a trend reversed in 2006.
"Reaching the target was a wonderful achievement," he said. "What we have seen, though, is a fewer number of gifts. Our donors have increased their average gift from $110 in 2004 to
$119 last year, a tremendous increase. I would like to see the number of donors climb from 37,000 to approximately 42,000. I encourage people who are making gifts to let their friends, family and other parish members know that they support the Bishop's Appeal."
"Sharing our faith happens every day through programs such as marriage preparation, prison ministry, budget counseling, stewardship, Holy Name Retreat House, The Compass, and more, supported in part by the Bishop's Appeal," he added. "It's not just a couple programs, but more than 50 that serve the people throughout the diocese. (See chart above showing how the Appeal funds are divided among diocesan departments.)
The Crozier Society, those who give $500 or more a year to the Bishop's Appeal, continues to grow. Its 1,800 members donated 30% of the 2005 total. Gifts of all amounts are equally appreciated, said Diedrich.
"I hope people pray about their gift," he said. "Whatever God is asking them to give, whether it's $50, $500 or $5,000, that sacrifice impact's people's lives."
All gifts are tax-deductible. Pledge gifts allow donors to spread contributions to the Appeal over a 10-month period. Diedrich encourages people to ask their employers if they provide a matching gift program. Even companies that may not provide a matching gift for religious purposes, likely will provide a match for services provided through Catholic Charities.
"If your employer supports the community, look at Catholic Charities, which supports 41,000 people in Northeastern Wisconsin," said Diedrich. "Some of those 41,000 are not
Catholics. It doesn't matter who you are, Catholic Charities is there to serve."
"Whatever people give, it's about being a good steward," he added. "It's about being caretakers of the gifts we receive from God and giving back."