Bishop's Appeal kicks off
Appeal director says funds benefit many important programs
Editor's note: First in a series on the Bishop's Appeal.
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
||Bishop's Appeal 2007 Allocation Chart
These distributions from gifts help fund the work of the
diocese for the fiscal year of 2007-2008.
|SHARING THE GIFTS: Pie chart shows how contributions to the 2007 Bishop's Appeal were allocated to the various agencies and departments in the Green Bay Diocese.
GREEN BAY -- Normally, a speaker doesn't like to be interrupted, but for Josh Diedrich, director of the Bishop's Appeal, it was a pleasant surprise.
Last year, Diedrich met with members of a rural parish to speak about Advancing the Mission, the stewardship campaign in which parishes and the diocese share proceeds 50/50. The topic of discussion turned to the Bishop's Appeal and one parish member's concern that he did not benefit from the annual fund-raising effort.
"He asked one question, then another, and then a third," said Diedrich. "I was attempting to answer the third question when I was interrupted by a voice in the back of the room."
A man explained that his best friend was the deacon at the parish, and that he benefited from the diaconate program, which is funded in part by the Bishop's Appeal. The director of religious education at the parish joined the conversation, explaining how she had been commissioned through the Commissioned Ministry Program, and how she receives assistance in her work from the diocesan department of education. The testimonials for the Appeal didn't end there.
"A man told the story about how he and his wife had difficulties having children," said Diedrich. "They had adopted a child and wanted another baby. Catholic Charities was restarting its adoption program at the time, so they looked into it."
The couple was selected to receive a baby, but the birth mother changed her mind and decided to keep the child.
"They were heartbroken and crushed," said Diedrich. "Catholic Charities was there to help them through their grief. Six months later, they were selected again and they were able to adopt their child."
"I don't know if that one particular gentleman was convinced that he benefits from the Bishop's Appeal," added Diedrich, "but I'm confident that the other 40 people in that room understood its importance."
The 2008 Bishop's Appeal kicks off this weekend at participating parishes. The target is $5.25 million, the same as last year.
"We had a successful campaign," said Diedrich. "We came up a little short of our goal, but are very thankful for the generosity of all who made gifts."
The 50 parishes in Wave III of Advancing the Mission will not receive information for the 2008 Bishop's Appeal. The appeal is wrapped within the Advancing the Mission campaign. Parishes from Waves I and II will return to the Bishop's Appeal.
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Morneau has recorded a Bishop's Appeal homily for parishes and appeal mailings will be sent to participating households. A new Bishop's Appeal video was not
produced this year because the majority of participating parishes were involved in Advancing the Mission last year, and did not see the video.
"It is important to be good stewards in operating the campaign," said Diedrich. "Only 4 percent from last year's appeal is used for this year's campaign."
Diedrich encourages people to pray about their gift.
"Each gift is so important," he said. "The Bishop's Appeal supports the day-to-day ministries in the diocese. It helps thousands of people and serves as an outward sign that the people of northeast Wisconsin want to support the growth of their faith and give back."
The appeal provides for nearly 50 percent of the diocese's operating expenses. All gifts are tax-deductible and credit cards are accepted. Pledge gifts allow donors to spread contributions over a 10-month period.
Those who give $500 or more a year to the Bishop's Appeal become members of the Crozier Society. Donors participating in Advancing the Mission retain membership.
Diedrich encourages donors to ask their employers if they provide a matching gift program. Even companies that may not provide a matching gift for religious purposes will likely provide a match for services provided through Catholic Charities. (See chart above showing how the appeal funds are divided among diocesan departments).
He also hopes that when people consider their gift, they recognize the effect the appeal has on their faith life.
"That's the challenge," he said. "I can talk about the more than 42,000 families served by Catholic Charities or the training received by hundreds of teachers in our Catholic schools, but it's hard for people to put their arms around that.
"A quote by Mother Teresa describes the impact of the Bishop's Appeal," he continued. "She said, 'If I look at the masses, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.' I hope people can find that one instance that touches their heart. I hope they can see how their support of the Bishop's Appeal helps change people's lives. If they look at the one, they will give."
For more information about the Bishop's Appeal, contact Diedrich at (920) 272-8197 or 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8197; e-mail: [email protected] or go online to www.gbdioc.org.