Volunteers pray as Annual Diocesan Appeal planning begins

Volunteers mobilize, pray as appeal planning begins

By Tom Dermody
of The Catholic Post

To educate and inspire on the need to be good stewards of God’s blessings, the Diocese of Peoria is turning to diocesan treasure as it prepares for the 2010 Annual Diocesan Appeal.

The words of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen — the famed author, orator, and media pioneer who is a sainthood candidate from central Illinois — appear on both the poster and the promotional video that were introduced at the ADA kickoff event last Saturday in Peoria.

“Giving alone does not prove love,” said Archbishop Sheen, “but love must manifest itself in giving.”

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who celebrated a Mass attended by about 400 parish volunteers and dozens of priests to prayerfully begin the morning of planning, said Sheen’s words seem especially relevant as the appeal planning enters full swing. And he especially thanked the parish volunteers for their sacrifices, calling them “committed and intentional Catholic believers whose faith and sweat equity builds up our faith.”

The ADA is the major source of revenue for the diocese’s ministries and agencies. Pledges toward this year’s goal of $5.4 million will be sought in late April.

“We recognize that our time, our talent and our treasure really belong to the Lord,” said the bishop in his homily. “We are but the temporary stewards of God’s many gifts.”

Following the Mass, the volunteers and priests filled every available seat of the main conference room at the Spalding Pastoral Center for a brief planning program. Bill Engelbrecht, director of advancement for the diocese, listed five “keys to a successful appeal,” starting with the need for strong leadership by the pastor.

“There almost isn’t a Number Two,” he said. “What you say and don’t say means everything in a parish.” Other keys Engelbrecht listed included sharing both the parish and the diocesan cases for the appeal, asking people to give, following up after Pledge Sunday, and then making sure to say “thank you.”

He also encouraged all parishes to use the “in-pew solicitation” method this year, which he said has resulted in increased donors and dollars in parishes utilizing it.

In the seven-minute promotional video, which will be shown at all parishes next month, Bishop Jenky lists some of the many ministries the appeal supports, including diocesan marriage programs, and a series of confirmation retreats offered regionally by the Office of Catechetics.
Special mention was also made of “Caring Presence at the End of Life,” a program of the Recovering Our Traditions Collaborative (ROTC) sponsored by OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Catholic Charities, and the Diocese of Peoria.

Bishop Jenky acknowledged that difficult economic conditions continue throughout the diocese.

“We have tightened our economic belts here at the diocese like no other time in my memory,” he said.

In an opening prayer, Msgr. Paul Showalter, vicar general, asked God that “our financial burdens never cause us undo stress or to lose sight of you and the meaning of what we’re all about.”

“Everything we have is your gift,” he prayed, and the greatest gift, he said, is Jesus Christ. “We commit ourselves to be good stewards of the gifts entrusted to us,” he said.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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