ACA: New letters with new meaning Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Mar. 19, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

In the past, we used to hear about the DSA — the Diocesan Services Appeal. But this year, parishioners in the Diocese of Madison will be hearing some new letters: ACA.  They stand for the Annual Catholic Appeal.

editor's viewBut it’s not just new letters and new words. There’s a whole new meaning behind them. The Diocese of Madison is joining the majority of dioceses around the country in launching a new appeal process, going directly to members of the Catholic Church to ask for their personal financial support of the much-needed services and ministries of the diocese.

How the Church is funded
Stewardship Prayer


You sent us St. Paul to preach the Gospel,

inspire us in faith, and show us the way

to be good stewards of Your grace


In our time together show us

how to be fervent ambassadors of Christ, Your Son

Grant us the wisdom to recognize that through

his gift of the Eucharist there is one bread

and we are one body.


Give us the courage to proclaim the Good News

in word and deed.


And in the spirit of St. Paul teach us to live

no longer for ourselves, but in Christ Jesus

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God forever and ever. Amen.

What does this mean? Most Catholic dioceses generate most of their funding in three ways. First, they receive a tax on parish income. Secondly, they receive income from bequests and investments. Thirdly, most of the dioceses have an annual appeal to generate direct contributions from the people.

Before now, the Diocese of Madison has supported itself through a modest tax on parishes and income from bequests and investments. (Although I haven’t done a comprehensive survey, I believe our diocese has had one of the lowest taxes in the country.)

We were fortunate to be able to support diocesan services with the tax and bequest/investment income. However, we all know what has happened to our economy. Investment income has plummeted. This has hurt the diocesan finances just as it has businesses and individuals.

Growing needs

Besides the economic situation, the diocese is also facing other issues. Among them are skyrocketing costs for caring for a growing number of retired priests as well as educating a larger number of seminarians — our future priests. Just as many of us help care for our aging parents, we have a commitment to provide for our retired priests who served us so well for so many years. 

We are also happy that the number of seminarians in the Diocese of Madison has grown from six in 2005 to 24 in 2009 (18 in major seminary and six in minor seminary). Obviously the costs have risen there, too, so that the St. Joseph Fund for seminarians’ education needs more support.

On top of these needs, the diocese has also increased staffing in diocesan offices to meet needs in many other areas from safe environment for our young people to information technology to worship and Catholic schools. We also must help meet the growing needs of the poor, especially in these times of stress.

What you can do

What can you do? Start by educating yourself. 

Members of parishes will begin to hear more about the ACA starting this weekend in their parishes. Parishioners will also receive a letter and brochure from Bishop Robert C. Morlino. Please be open-minded and take time to read and listen to what is said about the new appeal process. Also read this week’s Catholic Herald for more on the ACA.

Please pray for the success of this appeal (a suggested prayer accompanies this editorial). Consider what you can do to help support the  necessary services and ministries of the Diocese of Madison as we all pitch to become the cornerstone to cultivate God’s Kingdom of Heaven on earth.