By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff Writer | Published February 17, 2011
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory is asking Catholics of the archdiocese to “reflect on how God has worked in your own life and participate again, or for the first time,” in this year’s Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, which will run from January to December of this year. The weekend of Feb. 26-27 is Commitment Weekend, when Catholics are asked to consider their support of the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal in 2011.
The primary fundraising effort for the ministries, programs and services of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Annual Appeal provides the funds needed to support the work of the Catholic Church in the areas of ministerial, pastoral outreach, Catholic Charities, and education, formation and discipleship.
The goal for this year’s campaign is $7.03 million.
This year’s campaign includes a new process to reach people at the parishes … “in the pews” with a request for in-pew pledges. This process will be held in the churches on the two weekends prior to Ash Wednesday.
According to Steve Siler, executive director of stewardship for the archdiocese, “The new Archbishop’s Annual Appeal process that parishioners will experience is one that is done by a number of dioceses nationally. It is a process that has our pastors and parish leaders bringing each of us to a decisive moment about supporting Archbishop Gregory, his vision for the church here, and his ministerial priorities.”
Every parish has an individual monetary goal for the Annual Appeal, which is determined by an objective formula—8 percent of the previous year’s total offertory. 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.
Payments can be made online and can also be paid in 10 monthly installments. All pledges must be paid by Dec. 31. The stewardship office will send monthly reminders to those pledging.
Four Major Areas Benefit From Appeal
The programs that benefit from the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal comprise four major areas, including ministerial; pastoral outreach; education, formation and discipleship; and Catholic Charities.
In the ministerial area, the vocations program is projected to receive $2,700,000. Of that total, $1.95 million is slated for seminarian education, and $50,000 will go to the permanent diaconate office. Priest support and retirement care will receive $600,000 and $100,000 for continuing formation such as conferences and other types of education.
In pastoral outreach, eight areas of ministry are supported by the Appeal for a total of $1,970,000, including the Pro-Life Ministry, which receives $70,000; Hispanic Ministry, $90,000; Prison and Jail Ministry, $150,000; the Metropolitan Tribunal, $830,000; Office of Black Catholic Ministry, $190,000; Office of Youth and Child Protection, $140,000; Ministry for People with Disabilities, $100,000; and Parish and Mission Support, $400,000.
For education, formation and discipleship, which overall receives $1.74 million, catechetical ministry will receive $140,000; adult ministry, $120,000; young adult ministry, $110,000; campus ministry, $390,000; youth ministry, $140,000; family ministry, $160,000; pastoral care ministry, $70,000; inculturation ministry, $70,000; Eucharistic renewal and evangelization, $130,000; inner city school support, $360,000; and parish pre-school programs, $50,000.
Catholic Charities Atlanta will receive $620,000 for its varied programs, including Immigration Legal Services, $250,000; Parish Social Justice Ministry, $250,000; HIV/AIDS, $50,000; and counseling services, $70,000.
The funds raised for the appeal will be used solely for the programs and ministries listed in the Annual Appeal brochure and on the website.
Annual Appeal Funds The Work Of The Church
The vocations program receives $1.95 million from the Appeal for seminarian education, including tuition, medical insurance, books and fees and other related expenses for each seminarian. Father Luke Ballman serves as the head of the Office of Vocations and is shepherding more than 40 young men through the discernment and seminary formation program.
He estimates that it costs about $40,000 per year to train each seminarian.
“In addition to tuition, room and board, and book fees for the seminaries (each seminary is a private college or university, and thus has the normal expenses that a secular institution of higher learning would have), seminarians incur travel and medical expenses,” he said.
He appreciates the support of Catholics through the Annual Appeal.
“The people of the Archdiocese of Atlanta recognize the need we have to train seminarians to meet the pastoral needs of our growing Church,” he said. “The strong response to the Annual Appeal has helped us to prepare these seminarians to serve our parishes for many years to come.”
The permanent diaconate office prepares men to be ordained as permanent deacons for the archdiocese and provides ongoing support, educational opportunities, retreats and spiritual guidance for those in the permanent diaconate community. Deacon Steve Swope, the assistant director of formation, said that the Appeal partially funds the formation program, with the balance provided by tuition paid by the parishes. He said, “This enables us to provide the men with the texts they need for formation, secure highly qualified instructors, give pastoral care training at Saint Joseph’s Hospital and other hospitals, case sponsor training to assist with annulments, FOCCUS training for marriage preparation, and covering mandatory formation retreats and days of reflection.
He added, “The people of the archdiocese greatly benefit from the funds provided to the Annual Appeal for the Permanent Diaconate. The money is used in the formation of the men, who after ordination will serve the people of God in North Georgia for many years, largely without pay. From a purely economic viewpoint, it is a superb investment to pay for a man’s five years of formation and to receive 15 to 20 years of ministry from him with virtually no pay.”
Ed McCoy is the director of the Disabilities Ministry, which is slated to receive $100,000 from the Annual Appeal. In his ministry, he works with those Catholics in the community who have special needs. The Appeal provides funding for the deaf community, funding that “enables us to pay the sign language interpreters sent out to assist catechists who have deaf children in their religious education classes. It also pays for the special text books used with low vocabulary children as they prepare for first communion.”
He added, “When we have large diocesan meetings, the funds pay for assistive listening devices to turn up the sound for individual participants who are hard of hearing.”
One of the ministry’s big events each year is Toni’s Camp, for Catholic youth and adults with intellectual disabilities. The Appeal pays for half of the costs of the camp. He said, “The funding also pays for the training of volunteers who will teach the special needs Catholic children and adults … and provides the staff for parish consultation on building accessibility, and for assistance with training disabled persons for ministerial roles in the parish.”
Charles Prejean is the director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry, which reaches out to new immigrants in the black Catholic community. He sees these immigrants as “potential sources of considerable benefit to both our Catholic community and the larger secular one.”
Prejean said, “During these past two decades of phenomenal growth, the generosity of the Catholic community, through the Annual Appeal, has made it possible for the archdiocese to provide a home for and to minister to its new immigrant members.
“Though the growth that is occurring in the Hispanic Catholic immigrant community is by far greater than that of the black Catholic immigrant one, the challenge is nevertheless formidable.”
Prejean continued. “Resettlement in a new land with its many cultural and institutional differences is as difficult for the each, particularly if neither community speaks English. The immigrant Catholics from the English-speaking countries of Nigeria, Ghana and the Gambia are less constrained to become active members of parishes than the French-speaking Africans.”
According to Prejean, the Black Catholic Ministry has been trying its best to “facilitate the process of inculturation for the immigrant community.” He said that his office has “used a portion of the income from the Annual Appeal to provide basic organizational and directional assistance, as well as other forms of direct support to these communities.”
He believes in the success of this program. “Today there are three active Haitian Catholic communities that are parish-based and another seven African Catholic communities that are likewise associated with parishes. There is much work still to be done, but there is evidence of increasing involvement of black Catholic immigrants in parishes and in archdiocesan activities.”
Director of the Victim Assistance Program for the Office of Child and Youth Protection, Sue Stubbs runs two distinctive programs: The Way Retreat and the Trauma Recovery Groups. She said that through these programs the Annual Appeal “makes it possible for men and women who have been sexually abused by church personnel and others to pursue healing.”
She appreciates the generosity of those who give to the Appeal, who provide “scholarships to participate in these healing programs which gives these individuals a sense of belonging and being cared for by the Body of Christ—they so often feel that they have been abandoned not only by the Church, but by God.”
She added, “Our programs give them a chance to see that this is far from the truth and that God is and always will be there for them.”
Archbishop Gregory urged Catholics to be generous in responding to the Appeal, “Continue being that helping hand, that prayer warrior, that witness to the faith, so that along with you, the Atlanta Archdiocese can meet the needs of those who come to us being abandoned, overwhelmed or without hope.”