Bishop's Appeal calls Catholics to stewardship
Bp. Zubik says the annual effort helps us see ourselves as givers
First in a series on Bishop's Appeal
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
The annual Bishop's Appeal is a call to stewardship, said Bp. David Zubik in his homily highlighting the 2007 campaign, which continues to build upon the theme, "Sharing Our Faith."
"The Bishop's Appeal helps us as church to see ourselves as 'givers' rather than 'takers,' as stewards who share who we are and what we have for the honor of God and for the benefit of each other," he said. "By embracing prayer, service and sharing, we grow the church. Through the Bishop's Appeal, God's heart is made visible in us."
The target for the 2007 Bishop's Appeal is $5.25 million. Last year's campaign raised $4.97 million, an all-time high.
"We had a very successful campaign," said Josh Diedrich, director of the Bishop's Appeal. "We were approximately $30,000 shy of our goal, but are very thankful to the 33,000 families and individuals who made generous gifts."
The 2006 Appeal marked the first excluding parishes participating in Advancing the Mission, the stewardship campaign in which parishes and the diocese share proceeds 50/50.
Twelve Advancing the Mission pilot parishes were not asked to give to the 2006 Bishop's Appeal. The first dollars raised in Advancing the Mission parishes fund the Bishop's Appeal target for each parish.
"The Bishop's Appeal is being rolled within Advancing the Mission for just one year," said Diedrich. "So, for example, parishes in Wave I and II of Advancing the Mission do not receive a Bishop's Appeal mailing this year. The Bishop's Appeal for these parishes will be back in 2008 as a separate campaign."
The 2007 Appeal kicked off last weekend at participating diocesan parishes. Parishes received a video featuring a message from Bp. Zubik, and stories about the work of Judy Turba, a mental health counselor in Catholic Charities, and the stewardship program at St. John Parish in Antigo. The video is available online at www.gbdioc.org.
"This year for the video we really focused on the work of Catholic Charities," said Diedrich. "Catholic Charities served 42,000 people during the course of the year. It's amazing to me to hear some of the stories of people who have had a very tough time in their lives and the support and care provided by Catholic Charities."
The story of Anna, a woman who suffered in an abusive relationship for 12 years, is featured in the video.
"She was in dire straits, but was really able to find herself," said Diedrich. "That's a credit to the work of Judy Turba."
"There is a long history of stewardship and sacrificial giving in our diocese," he added. "The feature on St. John's shows a parish that has embraced stewardship, especially the prayer and service elements. St. John's emphasized prayer and service, and Fr. Charlie (Hoffman, pastor) recognized that the sharing piece comes along when people become more involved in the church. They see the end results and really step forward and help their parish family."
Bp. Zubik also recorded a Bishop's Appeal homily for parishes and Appeal mailings were sent to participating households.
"We hope people read the letter and pray about their gift," said Diedrich. "Through gifts to the Bishop's Appeal, the diocese is able to bring the Word of God to so many different people. When you look at the leaders in your parish, many of them have benefited from the Bishop's Appeal. Look at your Catholic school or religious education program. Many of the people serving in education have benefited from the Bishop's Appeal."
The Crozier Society, those who give $500 or more a year to the Bishop's Appeal, continues to grow. Membership is now approximately 1,900, an increase of 100 from the previous year. Donors participating in Advancing the Mission remain members of the Crozier Society.
Diedrich encourages donors to explore matching gift programs offered by employers and to consider pledge gifts. For more information about giving options, contact Diedrich at [email protected]. Some donors have already made plans to give to the Bishop's Appeal after they die.
"They have remembered the Bishop's Appeal in their wills or estate planning," said Diedrich. "About five years ago, we received a request so we established a fund through the Catholic Foundation."
"The diocese started an annual campaign in the early '70s, so there is a long history of giving," he added. "People in our diocese have not only been generous to the Bishop's Appeal, but have come to the forefront to give to such causes as the tsunami and (Hurricane) Katrina. We are trying to make the Bishop's Appeal and Advancing the Mission work together. Every gift helps. Pray about what God is asking you to give, and if that's a gift of $5, wonderful, thank you; if that's a gift of $500, wonderful, thank you. Every gift counts and every gift helps someone in need."