Volunteers pray as Annual Diocesan Appeal planning begins

By: By Tom Dermody

Editor’s note: Photos from the day, including images of the prize drawing winners with Bishop Jenky, may be viewed (and purchased) by clicking on the camera icon on the left of this page.

The 2011 Annual Diocesan Appeal will seek a goal of $5.5 million next month under the theme: “One Faith Community: Let Us Do Great Things Together.”

Nearly 500 representatives from parishes around the Diocese of Peoria gathered last Saturday in Peoria for a morning of prayer and planning. The annual appeal is the major source of revenue for the diocese’s ministries and agencies.

Pledges will be sought on or around the weekend of April 9-10.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC — who concelebrated a Mass with dozens of priests at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria to open the gathering — thanked the priests and lay leaders who coordinate the appeal in their respective parishes.

“Our Annual Diocesan Appeals have been extremely successful thanks to the efforts and generosity of people like you,” Bishop Jenky told the parish representatives who packed the conference room of the Spalding Pastoral Center following Mass.

“Quite simply,” he continued, “the ADA is necessary because there are needs in the diocese which require a Christian response — needs that cannot be effectively fulfilled by either the individual Christian or by the local parish.”

Those needs, and some of the “great things” being accomplished within the diocese with the appeal’s support, were further outlined in a seven-minute promotional video that was debuted last Saturday. Narrated by Bishop Jenky, the video described diocesan efforts in the areas of marriage and family life, pro-life, Catholic education, outreach to the poor, help for seniors, seminarian training, college campus ministry, the growing Hispanic presence, and more.

“We have a community of faith that reaches out to help others,” said Bishop Jenky in the video. Calling the diocese “in many ways like a large Catholic family,” he urged support for the appeal “so that one day we can bring Christ to all who hunger for his love.”

Both Bishop Jenky and Bill Engelbrecht, director of advancement for the diocese, urged parishes to show the video as they seek pledges next month.

“Showing the video is one of the few opportunities we have to connect directly with all 65,000 households in our parishes,” said Bishop Jenky. “We are able to share with them what we do throughout the diocese and how their gifts are used to enrich the lives of so many.”

Engelbrecht credited wide use of the “in-pew” solicitation method for last year’s successful appeal, which recorded 1,455 more pledges than in 2009 resulting in a revenue increase of more than $500,000. He singled out more than a dozen parishes for significant improvement.

At the conclusion of the program, names of all those in attendance were placed in a drum and a drawing took place with the winners earning cash advances toward their parish’s appeal goals.

When the name of Father Mark Miller, parochial vicar of St. Patrick’s Parish in Raritan, was announced by Bishop Jenky as the winner of the $10,000 top prize, the priest exchanged a “high five” with parish trustee Leroy Tappe.

“What parish wouldn’t appreciate it?” said Father Miller. “The people of Raritan are a great parish. They love their faith.”

The $10,000 advance represents about two-thirds of the parish’s ADA goal, said Tappe. And while St. Patrick’s, under contest rules, still must conduct the appeal as usual, Tappe noted that since last fall the parish has been remodeling a space in an old school building to serve as an “overnight room” for priests from Nauvoo, including Father Miller, who administer the parish.

The cost of the remodeling? About $10,000, said Tappe.

Father Tony Trosley, pastor of several Hancock County parishes as well as St. Patrick’s, Raritan, joked that after this early good fortune, the people of Raritan will make Father Miller “pastor for life.”

Other parish prize winners were: Brian A. Ernat, St. Valentine’s, Peru ($5,000); Beth Salmon, St. Thomas the Apostle, Peoria Heights ($3,000); Bishop Jenky; Father Miller; Lloyd Nevitt, Immaculate Conception, Lacon ($2,000); Sharon Murphy, St. Joseph’s, Henry ($1,000); and Sherry Springsteen, St. Patrick’s, Andalusia ($1,000).

Photos from the day, including images of the prize drawing winners with Bishop Jenky, may be viewed (and purchased) by clicking on the camera icon on the left of this page.

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