Bishop asks Catholics to reach out in mercy to those in need
Catholics in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore are being challenged to raise $4,434,000 in the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal to support more than 35 diocesan offices and ministries that put the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy into daily action.
“Blessed Are the Merciful, for They Shall Obtain Mercy” is the theme for this year’s campaign. It ties in with the Holy Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis.
“Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy,” Pope Francis said in announcing the Year of Mercy.
Bishop Malooly expanded on Pope Francis’s description of Jesus, saying Jesus reveals “the Father’s mercy” in the manner in which he carried out his ministry.
“Jesus gave love and mercy to everyone he met, and even forgave those who crucified him,” the bishop said. “He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, fed the hungry, comforted the mourning, forgave sinners, and taught what true faith is – all of which we consider to be works of mercy.”
Follow Jesus’ example
He reiterated one of his favorite admonitions to Catholics, that they “become the face of Jesus to others. Simply said, we are called to follow Jesus’s example and be witnesses of mercy.”
Offices and ministries sponsored by the Annual Catholic Appeal are based on one or more of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, Bishop Malooly said. “Your participation enables the diocese to reach out in mercy and love to those in need – the hungry, the homeless, the unemployed, the distressed, the unchurched, our children and our elderly.”
This year’s target represents a 2 percent increase from last year. It is the first increase since 2013; the goal was frozen in 2014 and 2015 given the Sustaining Hope for the Future capital campaign. That $28 million campaign will help to strengthen the priests’ retirement fund; stabilize the Lay Employee Pension Plan for many past and current diocesan employees; sustain diocesan ministries, and provide funding for various projects at the parish level.
Costs for ministries
The increase was necessary to assist the offices and ministries supported by the Appeal to effectively carry out their mission, said development director Deborah Fols.
“The day-to-day costs to maintain existing ministries continue to rise,” she said. “The Annual Catholic Appeal is one of just two funding sources for the Diocese of Wilmington, with the other being parish assessments.”
Commitment Weekend, when Catholics in the pew will be asked to make donations or pledges to the appeal, will be April 9-10.
This year’s campaign will take several first-ever steps, Fols said. They include:
- A concentrated effort to increase the number of Circle of Honor members, who give $500 or more
- Use of credit cards and PayPal as payment options
- Mailing of a “solicitation packet” to 23,000 Catholic households about two weeks before Commitment Weekend
- Use of “e-blasts,” short, two- or three-sentence messages to remind people of the appeal and the ministries it supports
- Distribution to parishes of an audio-visual message from Bishop Malooly.
About 500 households that gave between $350 and $499 to past appeals will be asked to join the Circle of Honor, whose members give $500 or more, Fols said. The reason becomes obvious from looking at recent campaigns, such as last year’s.
A review of the 2015 appeal shows that 2,576 Circle of Honor donors – about 17 percent of the 15,450 total donors – pledged $2,819,278, or 62 percent of all moneys pledged. Increasing the number of Circle of Honor donors would help ensure success of future campaigns.
Credit card option
Credit card and PayPal use came after a number of Sustaining Hope for the Future donors informed the Development Office they would like to use that payment method, Fols said.
“We’ve never used credit cards for the Annual Appeal,” she said. Campaign pledge cards and the Development Office website will include a means to use those methods.
This also will be the first year that Bishop Malooly’s message, aired at Commitment Weekend Masses, will be taped as an audio-visual message, Fols said. The message has been audio only in previous years.
She expects most churches will continue with an audio-only message during Commitment Weekend Masses, but said they could put the audio-visual message on their websites. It also will appear on the diocesan website.
Individual parish goals will be set next week by the deans of the diocese’s seven deaneries (geographic subdivisions of parishes). Parishes where pledges exceed the goal will receive rebates. For those that support a school, 100 percent of the excess is returned. Parishes that do not support a school receive 50 percent of the excess.
In pew: April 9 & 10
In-pew solicitation will take place at all diocesan churches during Commitment Weekend, April 9-10. Parishioners can learn about the Annual Catholic in the coming weeks through the Dialog, mailings and the diocesan website at www.cdow.org/ giving/.