Annual Diocesan Appeal under way; seeks $6,580,000 to strengthen diocese, parishes

The Annual Diocesan Appeal opens in parishes across the Diocese of Peoria this weekend, inviting Catholics to serve Christ by sharing their gifts “to enable the church to do what is called to do.”

“It is religious truth that by giving we receive,” says Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, in a nine-minute video to be played at all Masses in the diocese this weekend, April 14-15.

“People who give of themselves are blessed by God,” continued the bishop. “They know the joy of doing the work of Christ.”

“Every baptized Catholic, every Catholic who has been confirmed, every Catholic that comes to Holy Communion is commissioned to serve, to serve one another, to build up the church.” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC

This year’s Annual Diocesan Appeal seeks a goal of $6,580,000 to support the various ministries and apostolates of the diocese and strengthen its 159 parishes. The 2018 theme is “We are called to serve one another.”

“Every baptized Catholic, every Catholic who has been confirmed, every Catholic that comes to Holy Communion is commissioned to serve, to serve one another, to build up the church,” said Bishop Jenky.

DIOCESAN MINISTRIES, PARISHES BENEFIT

Gifts to the Annual Diocesan Appeal fund a wide variety of diocesan ministries, ranging from Catholic schools to college Newman Centers, Catholic Charities to Hispanic ministry, the vocational development of priests and deacons to pro-life outreaches.

All of those efforts, and many others on the diocesan level, exist to serve parishes, said Bill Engelbrecht, diocesan director of advancement.

“We want to make sure every year we become as transparent as we possibly can so people know the gifts that are being made to the Annual Diocesan Appeal come right back into their parish in some way, shape or form. It’s not always directly, but the money they give to the church is genuinely going to help people to evangelize the faith and sustain the church in a culture that every day works against it.”

The return to the parish can be direct as well. Last year, for example, 83 parishes that exceeded their goal received rebates totaling more than a half-million dollars.

BENEFITS EXPLAINED PERSONALLY

Among those featured in the video to be shown at this weekend’s Masses is Father Jacob Rose, pastor of of St. Joseph Parish in Peru, who explains how his parish increased givers to the Annual Diocesan Appeal by 35 percent.

“I told my parishioners the good things that the diocese does, the way we support our seminarians, the way we support Newman Centers, Catholic education, catechesis programs, bilingual outreach to our Hispanic Catholics, or those that need pastoral care just as much as we do,” said Father Rose.

“I said, ‘We’re a bigger church than just right here in Peru. Can you help?’”

Others profiled in the video include:

  • Sister Silvia Tarafa, SCTJM, director of the St. John Paul II Catholic Newman Center in Normal, who tells the dramatic story of an individual whose life was “radically changed” — led from a place of despair to reconciliation to now serving the church running a young adult group — because of the campus ministry;
  • Deacon Tony and Mickey Nickrent of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Mahomet. Ordained a year ago, Deacon Nickrent explains how he was called to serve in the permanent diaconate through the invitations of people at his parish and in Cursillo.
  • Maddie Mangieri of St. Jude Parish in Peoria, representing Catholic young adults. “I think it’s really tough to be a young adult Catholic today,” she says. “It’s very important that we root ourselves in the truth.” She expressed the hope that, when she marries and has children, they will “grow up in a church that’s active, and really takes the faith from the head to the heart . . . so they know Jesus is not far. He’s right with them.”
  • Dr. Sharon Weiss, diocesan superintendent of schools, who shared her belief that Catholic schools are perhaps the church’s most important mission. “When we think of how many children we educate and how we are forming them in the really important years of their lives, and what we want them to take into their adult life no matter what their vocation — what greater good could we do?”

INVITATIONS TO STUDENTS, SPANISH-SPEAKING

Two other promotional videos were created to promote the Annual Diocesan Appeal, one designed for children in Catholic schools and parish religious education programs, and the other to be shown during Masses at 14 parishes with large Spanish-speaking populations.

In the children’s video, Bishop Jenky applauds the youth for the many ways they are already involved in service to their neighbor and invites them to consider making a gift to the annual appeal or a pledge of their prayers.

The invitation to children is important to the bishop, said Sister Salezia Rudyova, FSJB, not because of the amount of their gifts but because training them in sacrificial giving is important to the future of the church.

“Any giving entails sacrifice,” said Sister Salezia, an assistant in the Office of Stewardship and Development and appeal coordinator. “For the little kids to give 50 cents from their piggy bank, it is sacrificial because they could have spent it for something else.”

Bishop Jenky is teaching the children “and instilling in them that Christ is involved in everything you do,” agreed Debbie Benz, associate director of development. “There is a spiritual element to everything you do in life.”

Sister Salezia explained that Bishop Jenky designates monies raised from the children’s gifts for a specific cause rather than applying them to the parish or diocesan goals. Last year, for example, the funds supported Catholic Charities soup kitchens.

The video in Spanish features Sister Isabel Romero, SCTJM, newly appointed director of Hispanic Ministry, who explains various activities and formation opportunities offered to the diocese’s growing Hispanic communities.

“We have the support of our diocese and our bishop, and the way to respond to this support is by giving our support,” said Sister Silvia.

In his message to the diocese’s Spanish-speaking Catholics, Bishop Jenky expressed gratitude “for the way you are more and more giving to the life of the Catholic faith by your music, by your tradition, by your prayerfulness, by your intact Catholic culture. You enrich us especially when you volunteer in ministry, when you help out in all the many needs of our faith.”

Appeal organizers made a special effort this year to invite Catholics who have not made pledges in recent years. A brochure explaining the appeal was sent to all registered Catholic households in the diocese, and Bishop Jenky in January sent a letter to those who have not recently made gifts inviting them to at least offer prayer support.

“At the Annual Diocesan Appeal we do not want to lose those people who were once strongly attached and supportive of the church,” said Engelbrecht.

While pledges will be collected at parishes, payments can be made online at the diocesan website, which also includes further information regarding the appeal and the distribution of its funds.

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