Contributions to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal have reached about $800,000, said Curt Hanson, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development.
“This is ahead of what has been received in previous years at this time,” he said. “The donations are larger — and there are more donations than previously. It is gratifying that people are giving their hard-earned money to the church.”
The goal of the 2016 annual appeal is $1.2 million. Hanson sees the increase in giving as coming from several changes his office made in planning the appeal.
“First is the name ‘Bishop’s Annual Appeal.’ It says that Bishop [Donald] Kettler needs these funds to do his job. The bishop needs the diocesan offices to help him finish what he has to do,” Hanson said. “People respect Bishop Kettler and offer their gifts to help him.”
Those gifts fund such diverse ministries as Catholic schools, youth ministries, faith formation, vocations, marriage preparation and enrichment, TV Mass, multicultural ministries, the diocesan tribunal and The Visitor.
“In addition, we used an ‘in pew’ process,” Hanson said. “We know people who generally give are in the church. But there are people who attend Mass regularly but are not listed on the [membership] rolls — we have no way of knowing who they are. In past years, the information that we mailed to members entirely missed them. They hadn’t been invited to contribute.
“With the ‘in-pew’ process, we asked our priests to hand out donation envelopes to everyone attending Mass,” Hanson said. “Those envelopes at Mass allowed them to contribute if it made sense to them.”
Hanson explained that the Stewardship Office sent a letter to all 50,000-plus registered households in the diocese before this year’s kickoff, asking people to bring their gifts to the church.
A second letter will be sent soon to those who have not responded. Later this year, each parish will receive data, including the number of gifts, the number of donors and the percent of donors in the parishes.
He also detailed ways in which priests are instrumental in this year’s process — knowing the time lines, speaking about the needs from the pulpit and suggesting ways to improve the process.
“The Bishop’s Annual Appeal is not a money contest — that gets away from Catholic teaching of sacrificial giving. This allows people to help the bishop build the body of Christ in central Minnesota,” Hanson said. “This way we join ourselves to serve Christ and the bishop and the worldwide church. We are all on the same road, pulling toward the same goal.”