Delayed 2020 Annual Diocesan Appeal is set to open Sept. 19-20 with a lowered goal
Nearly six months later than originally scheduled and with an acknowledgment that “this is an extraordinary time” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Annual Diocesan Appeal will officially begin the weekend of Sept. 19-20.
The theme — “Know, Love, Serve” — remains the same, but this summer Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, lowered the 2020 appeal goal by 11 percent to $6 million.
The Annual Diocesan Appeal is the major source of funding for the diocese’s programs and ministries. Its original 2020 goal was $6,745,000, the same as in 2019.
“With the pandemic, we have seen that overall ordinary income for our diocese is down,” Bishop Jenky wrote in a letter to priests. He said the goal was lowered to a level last seen in 2015 by making further reductions to an already leaner diocesan budget.
In addition, Bishop Jenky announced that next year’s Annual Diocesan Appeal, as well as future appeals, will take place in the fall rather than the traditional spring dates.
A “BLEND,” INCLUDING DIRECT MAIL
Among the modifications to the 2020 appeal is encouragement for parishes to seek pledges via direct mail rather than in-pew solicitations.
Debbie Benz, director of the diocese’s Office of Stewardship and Development, said some parishes began conducting the appeal in March or during the summer as their churches reopened.
As a result, the appeal “is definitely a blend this year,” Benz told The Catholic Post. Pastors can launch the appeal “in whatever way works best for their parish,” she added.
A sample letter to parishioners for pastors’ consideration notes the appeal is being conducted during the pandemic’s uncertainties.
“But we as Catholics place our trust in God,” the letter states. Expressing gratitude to those who have supported their parish financially during the months of separation, the pastor’s letter asks for prayerful consideration of a gift to the 2020 ADA.
“The Annual Diocesan Appeal is an opportunity for us to financially support the work of the Church and draw closer to God,” reads the invitation. It notes that the appeal’s theme of “Know, Love, Serve” comes from the first line of Bishop Jenky’s 2020 Festival Letter on “The Real Presence.”
“A TIME TO STEP UP”
The Annual Diocesan Appeal benefits parishes as well as diocesan ministries, with money collected over parish goals returned in the form of rebates. And parishes are struggling financially as collections and support have fallen because of the pandemic, according to leaders of the diocese’s Office of Finance.
“We’re off to a sluggish start in the new fiscal year” that began July 1, said Russ Courter, director of parish and school finances. “The July collections are down 14 percent (from July 2019),” he added, explaining that if that continues much longer there will be difficult choices ahead.
The Paycheck Protection Program’s forgivable loans were of great help for schools and some parishes early in the pandemic, but similar government help does not appear on the horizon.
Related editorial: “Time to step up and preserve our mission”
Mindful of the parish struggles, the diocese has already made “hard choices that cut our expenses,” said Mike Buckley, director of diocesan finances.
“God always provides,” Buckley said with confidence, and challenged those who are able to give generously that “this is definitely a time to step up” their gifts of money as well as time and talent.
“When you support the Annual Diocesan Appeal, not only do you support the diocese, but you also support your parishes, schools, and communities,” said Bishop Jenky in a brochure to be mailed to all Catholic households explaining the appeal. “You enable everyone to grow in knowing, loving, and serving God. We are helping one another on our journey to be with God for eternity.”