Annual Catholic Appeal – Description of Supported Ministries


Catholic Education

Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Wilmington are characterized as places where more than 9,500 students Believe; Learn; Serve; Lead; and Succeed. Each day in 36 elementary and secondary schools, nearly 88 educators promote academic rigor in core subjects and the sciences, offer vibrant programs in the arts, utilize 1:1 technology tools to enhance learning, and enhance student development through co- and extra-curricular opportunities beyond the school day. Students pray, learn, and celebrate the faith daily enhanced by regular opportunities for worship and service and receive an outstanding education with 99% continuing their studies in colleges, universities, or other post-secondary programs.

The Office for Religious Education functions as a resource to parishes to promote the catechetical ministry of the Diocese as articulated by the Bishop of Wilmington. The Office supports ongoing spiritual and professional development for parish Directors of Religious Education, catechists, and parents participating in the catechetical mission the Church. As well as faith formation in all stages of development serving more than 10,000 students per year in 52 Religious Education programs throughout the Diocese.

Catholic Youth and Young Adult Ministry is committed to developing Christian values in young people through programs that catechize, evangelize, and promote social justice through service. To supplement the work of the local parish, CYM provides opportunities for young people to lead on the diocesan level through the Youth Leadership Team in addition to encouraging and promoting the practice of good sportsmanship through CYM Sports. The Ministry also provides training opportunities for those who work directly with youth ensuring that current laws and procedures are known and followed.

The Office for Marriage and Family Life provides Catholic formational and informational programs for parishes, couples, and families. Pre-Cana classes prepare engaged couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony. Other programs address topics such as Remarriage, blended families, Natural Family Planning, Worldwide Marriage Encounter, and Retrouvaille. The Office for Marriage and Family Life also facilitates various events in the Diocese supporting marriage and family goals, including but not limited to World Marriage Day and the Bishop’s annual Wedding Anniversary Mass.

Catholic Campus Ministry provides a faith community which serves as the students’ parish family while they study at a college or university in the Diocese of Wilmington. Prayer services, retreats, faith formation, leadership and ministry training, service opportunities, ecumenical fellowship, social events, and spiritual direction are offered depending upon interest and resources. Mass is celebrated weekly either on campus or in the parish of the college or university.

Deaf Ministry offers sacramental and spiritual support and nourishment to those in the hearing impaired community. Through a collaborative effort, a signed Mass is now offered bi-monthly. Interpreted (ASL) Masses are held each Sunday in at least one diocesan location. Particularly, there are interpreters at each Sunday 9:15 AM Mass held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, in Bear, Delaware. Deaf Ministry works with other regional support ministries to ensure that events and programs offered specific to the deaf are promoted to those in our diocesan community.

Special Needs Ministry offers religious formation programs for children, youth and adults. In addition to overall religious education, these programs help individuals with special needs prepare for the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation. The Diocese currently supports two parish centers with programs focused solely on providing religious formation to those with special needs and sponsors regular prayer groups for members of the adult Faith and Light community. Through Special Needs Ministry, the Diocese also provides assistance and consultation to parishes to help them offer an inclusive environment where possible to support special needs programs on their local level.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities’ Basic Needs Program helps low-income individuals and families to become more self-sufficient through financial coaching and case management services in addition to providing financial grants for basic living expenses. Once the immediate threat of homelessness is averted, households in crisis can work with case managers to achieve economic goals such as create and maintain a household budget, secure employment or a higher-paying job, secure child-care and access health benefits. Last year, Catholic Charities Basic Needs Program positively impacted over 16,500 individuals.

Bayard House is the only licensed residential program in Delaware providing food, shelter, and direct client care to at-risk, homeless, pregnant, and newly parenting teens and young women. The program strives to have mom deliver a healthy baby and become a self-sufficient head of household. 33 moms, babies, and toddlers made Bayard House their temporary home last year. Catholic Charities Catholic Charities Pregnancy Counseling service, offered through the Bayard House program, allows an expectant mother to carry her child with dignity while making responsible decisions regarding the well-being of herself and her unborn child.

Behavioral Health, Addiction Recovery Support, and Domestic Violence Services provides outpatient counseling to individuals and families with mental health concerns. Counselors help those struggling with such issues as depression and anxiety as well as supporting recovery for individuals with an addiction to substances such as alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication as well as behavioral addictions such as gambling, internet gaming and sexual addictions. Children in need of an alternative to inpatient hospitalization, day treatment or residential care may be eligible for Community Based Outpatient Counseling. Domestic Violence and Anger Management programs are also offered through Charities’ Counseling Services. Last year, Catholic Charities counselors treated 511 through these various services.

Located in Milton, DE, Casa San Francisco provides shelter for up to 12 adults for approximately 30 days as well as a wide range of services aimed at helping low-income residents of Sussex County. Shelter residents work with case managers to obtain income and find affordable local housing opportunities. Last year, 58 persons found shelter at Casa San Francisco. Casa also operates the largest Food Assistance program in Sussex County, serving 12 sites throughout the County. In addition to shelter services, Basic Needs, Immigration, and Behavioral Health services are also available at the Casa location.

Food assistance provides a sustainable source of nutritious food to individuals who are at risk of hunger. Charities operates two types of programs: food cooperatives which provide monthly food packages for qualified households, and emergency pantries to provide 2-3 days of food for households in crisis. Cooperatives are located at the Wilmington Thrift Center, Holy Cross Church in Dover, Casa San Francisco, Georgetown Wesleyan Church, and Seton Center. Emergency pantries are located at Casa and Seton Center. Casa also operates a Senior Food Distribution program. Over 7,650 persons received at least one food distribution from Catholic Charities food assistance programs in the past year.

HIV Services provides financial coaching and case management services in addition to providing financial grants for basic living expenses for households affected by HIV/AIDS in New Castle County.

The Immigration Program assists individuals and families with issues related to their legal status in the United States that are causing, may cause, or have caused family separation and difficulties in personal, social and economic development. Catholic Charities provides service to single adults, families, women with children, and unaccompanied minors who arrive in Delaware. The program provided services to 413 individuals last year.

Seton Center is a multi-purpose neighborhood community center located in Princess Anne, MD. Seton Center offers a wide variety of programs to local residents, the area’s Hispanic community and migrant farm workers. Those in need have access to the Basic Needs program, Behavioral Health Services, Immigration help, and Food Assistance. Seton Center also provides health screenings, women’s support groups and information and referral services. Last year Seton Center provided service to over 1,282 individuals.

Operating since the 1930’s, Thrift Services provides quality used clothing, furniture, appliances, household goods, and mattresses to families with limited income. Thrift Services also provides these items to clients in need at all Catholic Charities locations. There are two Thrift Centers where shoppers can purchase goods – a large one in Wilmington offering furniture, appliances, and mattresses as well as clothing and small household goods, and a smaller one at Seton Center offering clothing and household goods. The Wilmington Thrift Center now offers a monthly food cooperative program for qualified households.

Pastoral Services

Institutional Chaplains put into action the corporal works of mercy by visiting the sick in hospitals and nursing homes and bringing comfort and reconciliation to the imprisoned. They also provide spiritual support and guidance to civil service and law-enforcement personnel.

Ordained Deacons collaborate with the Bishop and priests to serve the people of God through their threefold ministry of liturgy, word and charity. Strengthened by the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, deacons also serve as a bridge between the clergy and the laity. Deacons presently serve in all but eleven parishes in the Diocese of Wilmington. Eighty-three deacons currently minister in the Diocese. Sixteen men are presently in their second year of Deacon Formation having advanced from a year of aspirancy to the second of four years of academic formation with St. Meinrad’s Seminary, leading up to ordination in 2021.

The Office of Hispanic Ministry assists parishes and diocesan offices in realizing their mission to the Hispanic flock. The Hispanic Ministry Team fosters the development of spirituality, community building, social action, and leadership and theological formation with its Mobile School of Evangelization. The Diocese’s growing Hispanic population is estimated at over 100,000. Twenty parishes serve as regional Hispanic Ministry Centers, addressing various liturgical, formation, apostolic, and outreach needs. Additionally, weekly Spanish Masses are regularly celebrated seasonably at two migrant laborer camps.

The Ministry for Black Catholics seeks to explore and implement evangelization efforts needed to lift the spirits of Catholics of African Descent, and to bring others, both churched and unchurched, into the family of the Body of Christ. The Ministry seeks to generate opportunities for Black Catholics to share their gifts with the larger community and participate more fully in the church as individuals.

The Office for Religious delegate serves as liaison between the Bishop and the religious of the Diocese and their major superiors. The Diocese of Wilmington continues to attract religious for ministry from over 30 religious communities which reflect diversity in charisms, ministry and cultures. Every year new communities of religious come into this Diocese. There is a great spirit among the religious men and women who value working together to spread the Gospel and serve the needs of the people of God.

The Office of Worship assists the Bishop, priests, and deacons of the Diocese in their preparation and enrichment regarding the proper and prayerful celebration of the Church’s Liturgy. The Office of Worship also assists in providing resources for sacramental and liturgical formation for parishes, schools, and diocesan organizations. It offers consultation, training programs, and resources for liturgical ministers and parish musicians. The office is also responsible for diocesan liturgical celebrations at which the Bishop celebrates.

The office for Pro-Life Activities provides programs and information to strengthen our diocesan witness on issues related to the dignity and value of all human life. The office continues to play a role also in the struggle over religious liberty issues and authentic marriage. The director consults with individuals on questions of bioethics; and the Respect Life Committee works to maintain a united front in the pro-life community by cooperating with pro-life groups like 40 Days for Life, Delaware Right to Life, and advocates for abolishing the death penalty and preventing Physician Assisted Suicide. The office sees to the distribution of materials for Respect Life Month and of other information throughout the year. The office also organizes an annual one day program of education and encouragement along with a dinner that raises funds for Rachel’s Vineyard and 40 Days for Life.

Administration & Communications

The Office of Public Relations and Media strives to establish and maintain positive relationships with the secular media. The office distributes news releases, oversees the diocesan website, and produces and distributes radio programs/podcasts with the goal of advancing a greater understanding of the Gospel, the Church and its teachings, diocesan and parish ministries and services and the Bishop’s priorities. The office oversees use of emerging social media such as Facebook and YouTube and consults with other diocesan departments, schools, parishes, and other ministries in the area of internal and external communications and media relations.

Office of Safe Environments
The year 2019 marks seventeen years since the inception of For the Sake of God’s Children, the safe environment program of the Diocese of Wilmington. During this time span, thousands of people in parishes, schools, and diocesan organizations have undergone background checks and have received clearance through For the Sake of God’s Children to minister and work in some capacity with children and youth.

Each year the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops evaluates and audits all the dioceses’ safe environment programs throughout the country.  Over the seventeen year history, including the current year, this Diocese has received successful evaluations and audits, and has been found in complete compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

For the Sake of God’s Children is designed to ensure a safe environment for all children and youth in the Diocese of Wilmington.  Details can be found on the diocesan website

The Dialog, the official newspaper of the Diocese, is available to parishioners through parish distribution 26 times a year. Its website, www.thedialog.org is updated daily with diocesan, national and international church news. Follow The Dialog on Facebook and Twitter.

The Tribunal is an ecclesiastical court established by the Bishop to administer justice according to the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church. Most cases heard relate to the validity of marriage in the Catholic Church.