By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff Writer | Published October 5, 2006
With the theme “We Are His Hands,” the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal has kicked off with a personal request to the 102,000 Catholic households in North Georgia for financial donations to support the vital ministries of the archdiocesan church. The funds collected through this yearly campaign go directly to the ministries that form the compassionate pastoral and social justice work of the church in the areas of vocations, charity, ministries, education and evangelization.
In a letter sent to each family, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory quoted St. Teresa of Avila’s compelling prayer, “Christ has no body but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks with compassion on the world. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.”
And with this prayer, Archbishop Gregory asked Georgia Catholics to show their compassion and care for others through a monetary donation to the annual appeal, which provides the funds necessary to run the various ministries of the church in North Georgia. Noting that the growth in the archdiocese has “placed greater demands upon the ministries of the Archdiocese,” he asked the faithful “to prayerfully consider” a tithe “in gratitude to God for His care for us.”
The goal for this year’s campaign is $6 million.
Sunday, Oct. 29, is Treasure Commitment Sunday in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, when Catholics are asked to consider both their support of their parish and of the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal and to make a commitment to help both over the next 12 months.
The campaign this year will again include a short DVD that highlights some of the ministries that benefit from the Annual Appeal and contains a personal message from Archbishop Gregory to all parishioners. The annual appeal materials are provided in both English and Spanish. Pastors and parish leaders will receive the DVD and other materials, which are also available on the archdiocesan Web site, www.archatl.com.
Funds for the appeal come from the donations of Catholics throughout the archdiocese. Every parish and mission has an individual monetary goal for the annual appeal. As each family donates to the appeal, their parish family moves closer to its own goal. When a parish goes over its goal, 100 percent of the extra money goes back to the parish to be used for local needs as determined by the parish.
Father Joe Corbett, one of the two vicars general, believes this to be “an awesome opportunity for parishioners to support the ministry of their archbishop at the archdiocesan level and the ministry of their pastor in his work at the parish and indeed outside the parish.”
The combined efforts of all make reaching the archdiocesan goal a reality, which in turn brings to fruition the work of the church in North Georgia.
Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Decatur, Father Eric Hill said that the annual appeal provides everyone with a chance “to see beyond our little world, beyond our busy, daily lives, to consider the broader picture” of what it means to be Catholic. He believes that while it’s “easy” for people to turn off the stresses of the world at large to concentrate on their own lives, they need to be “connected to the world in which they live.” The annual appeal, he said, is a reminder “that we are a broader church.”
Joseph J. Galvin, chief operating officer of Catholic Charities of Atlanta, Inc., can attest to the importance of the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. “Literally thousands of individuals and families throughout North Georgia are touched each year by the many services, programs and outreach efforts being offered by Catholic Charities. Support from parishioners represents approximately one-third of the overall budget of Catholic Charities and is used to help families in crisis return to self-sufficiency.”
According to Galvin, “Catholic Charities, through the generosity and support of the Catholic parishes throughout the archdiocese, strives to demonstrate God’s love through service to and advocacy for the most vulnerable and in need among us. The annual appeal is one way that Catholic faithful can become part of the amazing work being done every day by the committed and talented staff of Catholic Charities.”
Parishioners can make a one-time donation or pledge an amount to be given over a 10-month period. In his letter to parishioners, Archbishop Gregory respectfully asked each household to prayerfully consider pledging a tithe of 1 percent of its total annual household income to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, spread out over 10 months in convenient monthly installments. Households that have been especially blessed are asked to consider an even larger gift to support the mission and ministry of Christ through the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
All households of the archdiocese will receive donor pledge forms in the mail; additional envelopes are available at all parishes and missions for “in pew” gifts rather than mail-in pledges. Those donating can use cash or checks, as well as online banking, to make an automatic pledge payment. Instructions for doing so are available in the annual appeal brochure, as well as at the archdiocesan Web site, www.archatl.com, in the stewardship and development area. Gifts of stock to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal can be made by contacting Lori Clarke, executive director of Development and Stewardship, at (404) 885-7226.
The programs that benefit from the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal comprise five main areas: vocations, charities, education, evangelization and ministries. Following is a description of archdiocesan programs that will receive a portion of their total funding from a successful 2007 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.
– The Office of Vocations, which is educating over 40 men studying for the priesthood and facilitating the ongoing discernment process for those interested in becoming candidates for priestly formation, is projected to receive $1,643,139.
– Under the Permanent Diaconate Office, the Diaconal Formation Program prepares men to be ordained as permanent deacons for parishes and missions of the archdiocese. After ordination, the office provides ongoing community support, educational opportunities, retreats and spiritual guidance for those in the permanent diaconate community. This office is projected to receive $139,211.
– Under the umbrella of Catholic Charities of Atlanta, Inc., the Pregnancy, Parenting and Adoption Services is projected to receive $96,366; Parish and Social Justice Ministries, $189,209; Legal Immigration Services, $114,750; Migration and Refugee Services, $47,759; Community Outreach Centers, $377,235; Emergency Assistance Program, $140,182; and administration, $60,517.
– The HIV/AIDS Ministry, which provides educational services to the community as well as spiritual support and counseling to those affected by HIV/AIDS, is projected to receive $78,533.
– The Office of Religious Education and Faith Formation assists parishes with age-appropriate religious education and sacramental formation, provides direct programs for some age groups, including Young Adult Ministry and Youth Ministry, and offers catechetical formation and certification, in Spanish and English, for hundreds of parish catechists. This office is projected to receive $638,815.
– The Office of Catholic Schools, which assists 15 archdiocesan elementary schools and three archdiocesan high schools by sponsoring a range of administrative, in-service and special support services on an ongoing basis, is projected to receive $172,424.
– The Campus Ministry Program, through which the archdiocese subsidizes the operating costs of Catholic centers located on area college campuses, is projected to receive $294,885.
– Mission Development, through which the archdiocese subsidizes, on an as-needed basis, financially struggling missions and smaller parishes to help them meet the pastoral needs of their parish communities, is projected to receive $810,402.
– The Eucharistic Renewal, a partial contribution to the program costs of the annual Eucharistic Congress held by the archdiocese, is projected to receive $69,791.
– The Office of Family Life, which offers various Catholic programs for marriage preparation, marriage enrichment, stepfamily living, natural family planning, single parent living, and the training and continuing education of clergy and lay volunteers, is projected to receive $230,072.
– The Pro-Life Office coordinates pro-life efforts within the archdiocese, develops, trains and supports parish pro-life committees and acts as an archdiocesan resource for information on pro-life issues. This office is projected to receive $101,479.
– The Office of Child and Youth Protection, which promotes awareness of the problem of sexual abuse, establishes training programs, develops policies and procedures around safe environments for children and vulnerable adults in the archdiocese and seeks to provide in a responsible way a charitable and healing response to those who have suffered such abuse, is projected to receive $212,877.
– The Hispanic Ministry Office, which fosters a unity within the parishes of our archdiocese among the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities and serves as a resource for parishes and missions to meet the pastoral, liturgical and social justice needs of the Hispanic population in their areas, is projected to receive $311,374.
– The Office for Black Catholic Ministry, which provides works of evangelization, supporting the clergy in efforts to enhance the spiritual life of the black Catholic community and that of the larger Catholic community, is projected to receive $170,692.
– The Ministry with Persons with Disabilities, which advocates for Catholics with disabilities to be fully included into the life of the church by providing individualized services and programs, is projected to receive $100,288.
The funds raised for the appeal will be used solely for the programs and ministries listed in the annual appeal brochure and on the Web site.
Father Corbett said, “The Archbishop’s Annual Appeal provides a challenge to be Christ-like to others. But before we decide to share a gift of treasure with the appeal, or not, I pray that each of us will sincerely take to heart Archbishop Gregory’s inspirational words in his letter, on the DVD, and in the newspaper—and then, we will realize just how much Christ-like work can be accomplished with every single sacrificial gift, no matter the size.”
“Please give generously,” said Archbishop Gregory, adding that “each of us are members of the great body of the Church, a Church that extends beyond the boundaries of a single parish, that each of us is charged with the responsibility of carrying on the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ.”
For additional information, contact your parish or mission, or contact Christine Heusinger at (404) 885-7277. Information on the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal may also be viewed at www.archatl.com in the Development and Stewardship area.