More than 30 years ago, I asked Catholics to support a diocesanwide annual appeal that would help us provide crucial ministries and services throughout our 12-county Diocese of Rochester — ministries that affect nearly every Catholic family in some way. Initially, we called this effort the Thanks Giving Appeal, later renaming it as the Catholic Ministries Appeal to better reflect its overall purpose.
From the very beginning in the early 1980s, thousands of families have responded in good stewardship and great generosity. And each year, because of your gifts, we have been able to sustain our ministries, as well as respond to new needs and emerging challenges.
The most recent 2011-12 campaign was no exception, and, in fact, you helped us break a new record: more than $5.34 million was raised — $84,000 more than the year before! In addition, more than 99 percent of pledges were fulfilled this year — a new high that resulted in $120,000 more in funds to help our ministries. And, meanwhile, the average gift has steadily climbed through the years and stands now at $171 vs. $162 from the year before. It was the eighth consecutive year the average gift has increased.
I simply cannot thank you enough for your willingness in these difficult economic times to offer your gift to this worthy effort.
As we embark on the 2012-13 campaign beginning later in September, I want to remind you how each dollar we receive helps. Through your gifts to the Catholic Ministries Appeal, we are able to:
* welcome new Catholics through special education programs (RCIA);
* provide faith-formation programs for children in religious education and Catholic schools, minister on college campuses and provide helpful resources for families throughout our 12 counties, such as our wonderful new website Households of Faith (homelinks.dor.org);
* support the elderly and the infirm, and offer hope to those who are imprisoned;
* assist our Catholic Charities agencies in their much-needed services to the poor, the homeless and the hungry;
* encourage religious vocations through outreach to young men discerning a vocation;
* honor the institution of marriage and prepare engaged couples;
* spread the Gospel through communications media; and
* team with other dioceses in the U.S. to support the ministries of the Holy See.
As I move into my retirement once a successor is named in the coming several months, I will enjoy recounting the many blessings I received as your bishop. One certainly has been having experienced the profound generosity of people of every walk of life and circumstance each time I asked for your help in the Catholic Ministries Appeal.
I am forever grateful for this spirit and enthusiasm.
The theme of this year’s campaign is "Making a Difference Every Day." No truer words have been spoken of the people of the Diocese of Rochester.
Peace to all.