By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published January 8, 2015
ATLANTA—Various ministries of the Atlanta Archdiocese are relying on the 2015 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal to provide their services to the Catholic community.
The fundraising aims to bring in approximately $7.8 million, a 4 percent increase from 2014.
As of Dec. 19, 2014, the previous appeal surpassed its $7.5 million goal. Catholics in the archdiocese gave $8.7 million and close to 90 percent of parishes and missions are expected to hit their goals. Some $1.5 million was to be returned to parishes. Once their goal is reached, parishes receive back for their use any donations by parishioners.
Dave Spotanski, the chief operating officer of the Atlanta Archdiocese, said the financial support is an affirmative sign from Catholics in the pews about the service and leadership of the archdiocese.
“It affirms the fact we are part of a larger church and a universal church, and that is the way they participate in that,” he said.
The 2015 Archbishop’s Appeal theme is “All this I do for the sake of the Gospel.” The fundraising goal is $7,770,000.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said in a statement the annual appeal “reminds us that we are called to reflect the great love of Jesus Christ.”
He said the “extraordinary generosity” of the people of the archdiocese allows ministries to thrive and serve others.
There is little change in the spending priorities of the 2015 appeal. Most ministries will see a uniform increase. Spotanski said the appeal in 2016 could reflect decisions and goals outlined in the upcoming pastoral plan. The five-year plan is to be released by Archbishop Gregory soon, concluding a six-month process of consultation and discernment.
Where the money goes
The biggest share of the Archbishop’s Appeal proceeds, $3.1 million, supports ministerial needs, with seminarian education topping the list.
Father Tim Hepburn, the Vocations Office director, said donors “are always present to our minds and hearts as we prayerfully decide how to allocate our resources. Our office has deep gratitude for the generosity of God’s people, who sacrifice to ensure that priests and religious will continue Christ’s work today and in the future.”
The office is to receive nearly $2.1 million to educate future priests of the archdiocese.
There are currently 48 seminarians attending five seminaries. Father Hepburn said to prepare a man with six years of training costs about $500,000.
The Vocations Office organizes programs throughout the year for men considering serving as priests. Around New Year’s, the office hosted 29 men for a retreat at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. There is also an annual retreat for high schoolers called “Quo Vadis?” which asks those younger men to reflect on the question, “Where are you going?”
Newly purchased duplexes in Sandy Springs will be places of reflection for men. They will be home to men who have graduated from college and men from other countries who need to learn English.
Other ministerial programs benefiting from the appeal are the permanent diaconate, priest support and retirement care and priest continuing formation.
Education, formation and discipleship is the next largest category benefiting from the annual appeal, which includes many programs from campus ministry to religious education.
Amy Daniels, the director of the archdiocesan Office of Formation and Discipleship, said one focus for 2015 is to ensure its support of the parishes in implementing the expected archdiocesan pastoral plan.
“(The Office of Formation and Discipleship) as an outward-facing office of the archdiocese is very excited to embark on the (pastoral plan). Over the months of 2014, the people of the archdiocese, laity and clergy, expressed the issues of greatest concern to the church going forward. My hope is that the OFD is a vital partner in the collective effort,” Daniels said in an email.
An initiative for the office in 2014 was the creation of an online study course examining St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. It is for parish leaders all over the archdiocese and it covers the saint’s vision of men and women as sexual beings.
Fifty-two people are enrolled in the English version of the program and 47 in the Spanish.
The certificate program in Foundations of Theology of the Body was designed by the OFD with the input of the University of Dallas’ School of Ministry and is offered exclusively through the archdiocese to provide an academic understanding and practical applications in ministry.
In addition, the office is sharing teaching resources from the 2015 World Meeting of Families taking place in Philadelphia, which will include the visit of Pope Francis. Also, the office requested a limited number of hotel accommodations through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Another segment funded by the appeal is pastoral outreach, which includes 11 ministries such as respect life, disabilities, peace and justice, prison and jail, hospital, Hispanic ministry and black Catholic ministry.
Catholic Charities Atlanta will also receive $500,000 from the 2015 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal for refugee resettlement, family stabilization and immigration services.
How the money is raised
To reach the overall goal of the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, each parish or mission is assessed a goal. The goal is 8 percent of the parish offertory from the fiscal year ending 18 months prior. Donations can be made as a one-time gift or a monthly pledge that can be completed in up to 10 monthly installments. Payments may be made through Dec. 31, 2015. Once a parish goal is met, all the proceeds above the goal are returned to the parish with 10 percent being set aside for the parish endowment. If parish pledges don’t hit the goal, the shortfall comes from the parish operating budget.
For more information about the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, visit the website at appeal.archatl.com.