MADISON -- In 2009, the Diocese of Madison launched its first Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) to support the ministries and services it provides in the 11-county diocese.
This year, as the diocese again seeks support from people in the pews, the Church is focusing not only on the present, but also on its hopes for the future with the theme for 2010’s Annual Catholic Appeal: “Bear Fruit in the Future.”
During the week of January 25, a letter from Bishop Robert C. Morlino about the ACA will be sent to all parishioners in the diocese along with a brochure and pledge form.
Hope for the future
In reflecting on the theme in his comments in the brochure, Bishop Morlino says, “We always have to avoid getting so attached to the past or troubled by the present that we don’t focus on our future enough to have hope. We can’t hope for the past, and we can’t hope for the present, but we can hope for the future. Hope is the energy by which we grow holy.”
Bishop Morlino also notes that the ACA theme brings to mind the Fruits of the Spirit. “Charity is a Fruit of the Spirit, and that’s what our Annual Catholic Appeal is all about,” he says. “Supporting the Church’s mission is first and foremost, and this appeal is a direct example of the gift of charity.”
He adds, “My hope is that you will demonstrate your charity by joining me in giving to our 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal. Thank you for all you do to keep the Diocese of Madison fruitful.”
Goal for 2010
The 2010 ACA goal is $3.43 million, a reduction from last year’s goal of $3.7 million. Primarily because of diocesan budget cuts, the portion of the diocesan budget funded through the ACA is reduced to $2.7 million. Therefore, the remaining $730,000 being requested is for support of needy individuals, Catholic schools, religious education, outreach to youth, and additional charitable works.
“The diocese invested a great deal of time during last year’s appeal to gain a better understanding of needs throughout the diocese,” said Daun Maier of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. “The 2010 ACA case statement (see graphic on this page) reflects a reduced diocesan budget and, if surpassed, a $730,000 commitment in direct response to a number of rising concerns brought forward within our 11 counties.”
As the case statement explains, funds collected above the core budget will be used to reach out to parishes and people in need, including for additional charitable work through Catholic Charities; more funding for Camp Gray, the diocesan camp near Lake Delton; assistance grants for distressed parishes; direct assistance to Catholic schools; and increased funding for religious education programs.
The brochure points to three of the many ministries supported by ACA gifts that bear fruit in the future: seminarians, students in Catholic schools, and Catholic youth through Camp Gray.
Preparing future priests
Educating seminarians helps prepare future priests to serve the diocese. Diocesan seminarian David Johannes says in the brochure, “If we don’t provide for seminarians to follow Christ, we’ll eventually get to the point where we have no priests, which means we have no Eucharist; and no Eucharist means no physical presence of Christ on earth.
“I say a sincere ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart to all the people of the diocese,” says Johannes. “Without your prayers, your encouragement, and especially your donations to the diocese — which in turn supports us — none of this is possible.”
Catholic schools also bear fruit for the future by educating students and transmitting the faith.
As Superintendent of Catholic Schools Michael Lancaster says, “How we bear fruit is by forming students who are more likely to enter community service, be aware of social justice, participate in civil debate, and be aware of and work for the common good.”
Lancaster also says, “Catholic school students build up the kingdom and vocations are another fruit of Catholic education.”
In addition to Catholic schools, Catholic youth bear fruit in the future through the ministry of Camp Gray.
Jeff Hoeben, co-director of Camp Gray with his wife, Rebecca, says that ministry is especially effective at Camp Gray because young people get “to know the author of life” in the midst of nature. “Your contribution to the appeal helps us steward this amazing property and our young people,” he says.
In addition to the direct mail appeal, parishes will also be participating in promoting the ACA. On the weekend of January 23 and 24, there will be bulletin and altar announcements alerting parishioners to the bishop’s letter arriving in all households the following week.
On Announcement Weekend, February 27 and 28, a tabloid publication on the appeal will be distributed. On Commitment Weekend, March 6 and 7, parishioners will complete in-pew pledge forms. Maier emphasizes that all parishioners should complete the in-pew forms, even if they already contributed to the appeal. Parishioners can check a spot on the in-pew form indicating that they have given to the ACA.
There will be follow-up efforts on the weekend of March 13 and 14 for those parishioners who have not yet completed the in-pew pledge form.
Bannon Associates, Inc., will again be assisting the diocese with the Annual Catholic Appeal as they did last year. They will help conduct training sessions in parishes from February 2 to 6. “There will be 12 training sessions throughout the diocese to train ACA parish committees, including pastors,” said Maier.
Maier noted that there was some confusion last year about the diocesan tax and the appeal. The tax is an assessment levied on each parish to pay for essential diocesan offices and services.
The tax this year is set at $2.2 million, which is the same as in 2009. Parishes are asked to pay for the diocesan tax out of their budgets, rather than solicit contributions from parish members, said Maier.
Parishes have also been asked to refrain from holding any competing capital campaigns from approximately January 16 to April 4.
The diocese is also encouraging people to consider corporate matching gifts, which many employers offer. Planned gifts are another way suggested to assist the diocese through estate plans and wills.
“Your gifts of today and tomorrow will serve the generations of Catholics to come,” said Maier.
For more information about the Annual Catholic Appeal, contact the Office of Stewardship and Development, 702 S. High Point Rd., P.O. Box 44983, Madison, WI 53744, or visit the diocesan Web site at www.madisondiocese.org
Daun Maier may be reached by phone at 608-821-3046 or via e-mail at