Catholic Appeal exceeds goal for fifth year

BOSTON -- For the fifth straight year the Catholic Appeal has exceeded its goal, garnering $14.5 million in 2007, according to Scot Landry, secretary of advancement and chief development officer for the Archdiocese of Boston.

Landry told The Pilot that the campaign’s success is a sign of momentum for the local Church, which has surpassed its appeal goals for the last five years. Donations have increased by nearly 65 percent during that time. Last year’s appeal goal was $14 million, up from the $13.8 million raised in 2006.

The recent increase in donations suggests that Boston Catholics are “growing in their engagement and commitment to the central mission of the Church,” Landry said.

“It bodes very well for the future of our Church,” he added.

The Archdiocese of Boston will officially close the campaign, entitled “Giving in Faith, Giving in Love,” after the final year-end contributions have been processed, according to a Jan. 8 archdiocesan press release.

In the statement, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley thanked all of the campaign’s supporters.

“The success of this year’s appeal serves as yet another reminder of the deep faith and charity that exists within the people of the archdiocese,” he said.

Addressing donors, he added, “Your support is essential to ensuring that we can continue to expand the good works we do to serve the people throughout the 144 cities and towns of our archdiocese.”

The archdiocese relies on the appeal as the primary source of funding for its ministries and programs, which include training and faith formation for both clergy and laity, curriculum development for religious education of children and young adults, various operational and financial services to parishes, schools and agencies and well as ministry to the more than 30 cultural and ethnic populations in the archdiocese.

At a press conference for the 2005 financial report, Cardinal O’Malley characterized the archdiocese’s financial condition as ‘‘dire.’’ The report, released in April 2006, revealed an ongoing deficit of $46 million.

Since then, the archdiocese has streamlined the central administration by eliminating 50 positions, consolidating programs and reorganizing its administrative cabinet. Focused on operating within its means, the archdiocese decreased its shortfall in fiscal years 2006 and 2007. It projected a balanced budget by the end of fiscal year 2008.

Most of the funds in the archdiocese, however, are collected and expended at the parish level, and almost a third of the annual appeal goes toward specialized services for parishes.

Speaking at the 2007 appeal launch, Father Daniel Riley, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Weymouth, said archdiocesan programs for parishes made it possible to rebuild his church. The original church building was destroyed by a fire in 2005, and the new building was dedicated on Dec. 15, 2007.

The 2007 appeal began May 6, but the 2008 campaign will be launched two months earlier, March 2, in response to feedback from pastors, the statement said.

Landry credited the appeal’s success to the leadership of pastors and lay leaders who both give generously and encourage others to do so.

“Their leadership resulted in nearly 50,000 contributors to this year’s campaign and a 50 percent increase in the number of parishes surpassing their appeal goals,” he said.

A parish share component, added in 2005 as an additional incentive, assures that each parish exceeding its appeal goal receives back 25 percent of the amount collected above the goal.

In the statement, pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Framingham Msgr. Francis Strahan, chairman of the appeal’s Pastors Advisory Committee, praised the dedication and hard work of pastors throughout the archdiocese.

“Without their service and commitment, the Catholic Appeal would not be what it is today,” said Msgr. Strahan. “To achieve and surpass the formidable goal of $14 million is truly extraordinary.”

The 2007 appeal campaign was awarded Overall Excellence for Total Annual Appeal Effort by the International Catholic Stewardship Council. Each year, the council recognizes member dioceses and parishes that have best promoted the theology of stewardship, judging them on first impression, clarity of purpose, originality and persuasiveness.