Each year the bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud asks local Catholics to prayerfully and financially support the work of the church across the diocese through an appeal.
“The appeal is an important tool that the bishop needs to be able to do his work here, to be able to fulfill his pastoral functions in the diocese,” said Curt Hanson, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development.
This year, Hanson’s office, which oversees the appeal, has implemented a few changes to the way people see, hear and receive Bishop Donald Kettler’s request.
Hanson said the first change parishioners will notice is the new name.
“This year we are changing the name from the Annual Diocesan Appeal to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal to help people understand that the bishop needs this effort to help him do his job. He has a lot of things he’d like to do but he can’t without the financial means to do them.”
‘For the Glory of God’
The appeal funds many ministries of the diocese, including Catholic schools, marriage preparation and enrichment, TV Mass, vocations, youth ministry, faith formation, multicultural ministries the diocesan tribunal and The Visitor newspaper.
Another new feature is the “Announcement Weekend” which will happen in parishes Feb. 6-7. Priests will explain what the appeal is and inform them that the following weekend, Feb. 13-14, will be “Commitment Weekend,” where parishioners are asked to bring or mail in their gifts and/or pledge forms.
“There is also an opportunity to pray for the success of the Bishop’s Appeal,” Hanson said. “That is considered participation as well. The bishop needs prayers as much as he needs the monetary gifts.”
The theme for the appeal is “For the Glory of God,” which stems from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians.
Bishop Kettler recorded a video and audio message that will be available on the diocesan website, www.stcdio.org.
Parishes also are encouraged to play the video or audio recording as their facilities allow.
“The people of our diocese have a long history of supporting the work of the church for the glory of God,” Bishop Kettler says in his video message. “Every day, I am inspired in my own faith by people like you. … When we work together, our family of faith makes a positive difference right here in the Diocese of St. Cloud.”
The programs and offices funded by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal help to “strengthen this family of faith,” he added.
Pastors also will receive the bishop’s message in written form and, as in prior years, a letter from the bishop will be mailed to parishioners’ homes.
Over the past few years, Hanson said there has been a decline in the number and size of the gifts while the need for programs and services continues to rise.
About 9 percent of the 50,000-plus households that receive the bishop’s request contribute to the campaign.
This year’s goal is $1.2 million. Hanson is encouraging people who have never given to the appeal to consider a gift.
“All gifts make a difference,” he said. “And if you really wanted to do something spectacular, you could pledge five $20 gifts over the period of a year. Imagine what a difference it would make if 40,000 households each gave a $100 gift over a year’s time.”
Hanson said his goal this year is to give parishioners a better understanding of what the appeal is and to invite people to work together to build the body of Christ.
Throughout the year, The Visitor will spotlight ministries that benefit from the appeal.
“It is important for all of us to support Bishop Kettler who has given us all so much of his time and energy,” he said. “He needs the help of all of us to be able to do more.”