‘Open Your Heart to Christ’ in Annual Catholic Appeal
Christine Smith has her pride as well as her needs.
‘I don’t come unless I need help,” she said in a low voice recently at the Seton Center in Princess Anne, Md. “Sometimes you get low on food.”
When she does need assistance, she is not afraid to call upon the staff of Seton Center, an arm of Catholic Charities.” I feel comfortable here. They treat you good here.
“They treat you like a family member.”
Smith’s encounter with Seton Center staff provides a nutshell view of what the Annual Catholic Appeal is all about. This year’s theme is “Open Your Heart to Christ,” based on John 9:1-41. Catholics who open their hearts to Christ and donate to the Appeal enable the staff at Seton Center to open their hearts and services to those in need.
The theme brings to mind a quote attributed to Blessed Mother Teresa, who served the poorest of the poor in India: “Give me your heart … that I may receive Jesus as you did. And go in haste to give to others.”
This year’s goal of $4,347,000 will help fund 37 specific ministries or services in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. More than 100,000 people were served by those ministries and services last year.
Catholics will be asked to pledge to the Appeal at Masses for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 29-30.
“The Annual Catholic Appeal allows all of us to open our hearts to Christ and to share what we have with others who are in need: a family that struggles to afford adequate food, health care and housing; a couple preparing for marriage; troubled families receiving counseling, children exploring the mysteries of faith,” Bishop Malooly said. “Individually we may not be able to reach all these people, to be the face of Christ to them. But through the Annual Catholic Appeal we enable those who operate the various diocesan ministries and services to be the face of Christ for us, to bring hope to so many who may be in crisis or who are preparing for their future.”
Those needs always seem to increase but this year’s campaign goal will remain the same as last year’s goal. The decision to freeze the goal coincides with the start of a $28-million capital campaign called Sustaining Hope for the Future, which will strengthen the priests’ retirement fund and the Lay Employee Pension Plan, help sustain diocesan ministries, and fund various projects at the parish level.
“Both campaigns are important to the diocese’s viability,” explained Bishop Malooly. “While freezing the Annual Catholic Appeal goal makes meeting all the needs confronting us more of a challenge, we do not want to overwhelm those who support us so generously. At the same time, today more than ever, so many people are in need of our help. If we could once again exceed our goal, we would be able to reach so many more people.”
In 2013 the Appeal once again exceeded its target, raising $4,807,235 according to Deborah Fols, director of development who oversees the campaign.
“We’ve never had an Appeal to fail,” she said. “That simply is indicative of the parishioners in the diocese and their willingness to share with those who are in need of help.”
Donations to the 2013 Appeal ranged from $1 to $50,000.
“The Appeal is one of two major income sources for the diocese. The other is parish assessments. That makes the appeal’s success vital to the workings of the diocese,” Fols said.
Officials froze the goal two other times since the Appeal began in 1976; in 1997 and in 2010. The 2010 freeze came as a result of financial conditions following the economic downturn of 2008.
Many served by the Appeal often want to return the favor. That is the case with Christine Smith, the woman who recently visited Seton Center. Encouraged by the acceptance and respect she received, she said: “If I ever get some money, I will donate here.”
2014 Annual Catholic Appeal At a Glance
THEME: Open Your Heart to Christ, based on John 9:1-41
Announcement Weekend: March 22-23
Commitment Weekend: March 29-30
MINISTRIES, OFFICES ASSISTED: 37