Special to The Dialog
A goal of $4,523,000 has been set for the 2017 Annual Catholic Appeal, which helps more than 35 diocesan offices and ministries assist more than 100,000 people each year develop their spirituality, seek emotional and mental peace, and meet their physical needs.
“Their Eyes Were Opened and They Recognized Him” (Luke 24:31), the theme for this year’s appeal, comes from the Gospel story of the resurrected Christ joining two of his followers on the road to Emmaus. As they talked, the followers did not recognize Jesus until, at dinner, Jesus broke bread, gave thanks and started to give the bread to them, reenacting the Last Supper.
People today sometimes struggle to recognize Christ among us, much as those early believers did not recognize it was Jesus that walked with them, said Bishop Malooly. But Jesus himself set that standard when, in Matthew 25, he tells his Apostles, “Whatever you do for one of these least brothers of mine, you do for me.”
“Jesus lives in each of us, so our ministry to those in need provides a mirror image of Jesus,” the bishop said. “We see the needs of Jesus in those whom we assist as an expression of our faith, and they see the love of Jesus through our collective efforts to meet their needs.
“We see Jesus in the families that come to our food pantries or participate in our food cooperatives or shop at our thrift stores, struggling to meet their children’s basic needs,” he continued. “We see Jesus in the ill woman in a hospital bed or elderly man in a nursing home room, visited by our chaplains. We see Jesus in the young man and woman who comes for counseling because of mental or emotional turmoil or struggling to overcome an addiction. We see Jesus in the homeless who are provided a roof and the possibility of a brighter future at our shelters.”
The Annual Catholic Appeal also assists the church in its religious mission, Bishop Malooly said. It helps children learning the faith through Catholic schools and religious education programs; adults learn their roles and the theological background for their work for such parish-based liturgical ministries as eucharistic ministers and lectors.
“The funds raised through the Annual Catholic Appeal are vital to the operation of our offices and ministries in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,” the bishop said, noting it is one of the two major sources of funds for the diocese.
This year’s goal represents a 2 percent increase from the $4,434,000 goal last year. The 2016 campaign collected a record $4,893,490. Catholics in the pew will be asked to make pledges at Masses on Commitment Weekend, April 29-30. Pledges may be paid in monthly installments or in one lump sum.
Online billing and payments through PayPal are available, and credit card payments are accepted, a continuation of enhancements first used in the 2016 Appeal.
Parishes are eligible for rebates for collections over their goal. Parishes that support a Catholic school receives 100 percent of excess funds, while parishes that do not sponsor a school receives 50 percent of collections over goal.