Officials from the Archdiocese of Portland are heartened but still seeking support for the annual Archbishop's Catholic Appeal, back after a year's hiatus.
As of mid-April, Catholics in western Oregon had given or pledged $2.3 million, 63 percent of the $3.6 million goal. That's on par with 2010 levels.
The annual collection supports Archbishop John Vlazny in his role as teacher of the Catholic faith by funding ministry outreach to people with disabilities, seminary education, training for the permanent diaconate, lay ministry formation, vocations work and continuing education for priests. Other ministries in need of funding include youth ministry and support for Hispanic Catholics and other ethnic groups. Also on the list are tuition assistance grants for elementary and secondary Catholic school students, campus ministry and religious education. Outreach in support of evangelization, family life grants, pro-life activities, justice and peace and prison ministry all depend on the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal.
"I am counting on the full cooperation of pastors and parish leaders," Archbishop Vlazny says in this week's Catholic Sentinel column. The 2011 appeal was cancelled so Catholics could focus on the capital campaign. In 2012, much of the yearly appeal's progress has come from major donors, who have generally increased their gifts over 2010 levels.
"We are very encouraged," says Doug Tollefson, Chief Development Officer for the archdiocese. Tollefson surmises that the "Sharing Our Faith, Shaping Our Future" capital campaign has increased awareness and understanding of the archbishop’s ministry, leading many donors to increase giving. But there is much work to be done as only 15 percent of the 88,000 invited households have made a donation while, 30 to 35 percent of households annually give to the archbishop’s appeal. Even modest gifts from the remainder would cause a surge past the goal, says Tollefson.
"Participation is what the archbishop is trying to get at," Tollefson explains. "Participation creates wonderful things: like commitment and ownership. We as Catholics have a responsibility for our Catholic faith. It's not all about the leadership of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is also about us the people."
In February, parishioners watched a DVD explaining some of the supported ministries. Among the featured families were Matt and Melissa Rocha and their five children, who have received aid to attend St. Mary School in Albany since Matt was laid off from a high-tech job. Also appearing in the DVD were Bernabe and Rosalia Rea Mancilla of Cornelius, who with disabled son Sammy was helped by the archdiocese's Office for People with Disabilities. The video is still available at www.archdpdx.org/appeal/index.html.
"We feel the video really resonated with parishioners," says Beth Schantzen, development associate for the archdiocese. "It showed that our faith is being put into action. It's real. 'Teach, Bless, Serve' is not just a catch phrase, it's how the archdiocese provides service to our Catholic community."
Seventeen of the archdiocese's 124 parishes have reached goal for the Archbishop's Catholic Appeal. Some are approaching their goal. Some have not come close.
Tollefson says one of the keys at parishes that succeed is the backing of parish leaders, not only the pastor, but lay leaders on the pastoral and administrative councils. “By working together," Tollefson says,” our Catholic faith can not only survive, but thrive."
Meanwhile, the five-year "Sharing Our Faith, Shaping Our Future" capital campaign has pledges of about $30 million. Of that, $8.3 million has already been donated. Money from the continuing capital campaign will go toward priest retirement, seminary training, faith formation, Catholic education and parish needs.
The archdiocese is planning to offer a new approach to parishes that could not develop lay leadership and major gifts. And some parishes, which delayed the capital campaign because of local building projects, will soon begin "Sharing Our Faith, Shaping Our Future."