Stewardship Commitments, Debt Reduction, and the Catholic Services Appeal

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 3 edition of the Parish Bulletin

Last summer our Finance Council, Stewardship Committee, and parish staff looked ahead to everything we would need to do for our Forward in Faith Debt Reduction Campaign. It became clear that we had to plan the timing of events very carefully. While we had to allot several months to kicking off the campaign, we were also aware of our need to conduct our Stewardship Renewal, and to accomplish both of those before the Archdiocesan Catholic Services Appeal began. So we timed Forward in Faith so that it would take place before the beginning of December. We placed the Stewardship Renewal in January, and the Catholic Services Appeal was already set to begin today. So you have heard several requests about money in a compressed period of time, but this way, the public portion of those major appeals will be completed by Ash Wednesday. And of course, the part of the Stewardship Renewal that has to do with money is really only a matter of our parishioners telling us what they were already intending to give.

I am pleased to report that as of this week, we have received 214 commitment cards for our Stewardship Renewal. I’m very grateful for the responses you have made to God, stating your intentions to give of your time and talent as well as your treasure. If you haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to complete one of the commitment cards. In a few weeks our volunteers will begin to call those of you who have indicated you are interested in beginning to be involved in a particular ministry. Let’s keep those commitment cards coming!

The season of the Catholic Services Appeal begins today with the showing of the Appeal video at all of the Masses. All families who have contributed in the past ought to have received a letter by now from the Appeal Office of the Archdiocese with an envelope for their convenience. Having the same pledge envelopes available in the pews is an idea that was tested last year and which was found to work very well in several pilot parishes, so we are using that technique. After we collect the response envelopes, we just pass them on to the Archdiocese and let the staff there sort the responses and process the contributions.

We as a parish have done very well in reaching our goal in the past, which is very good news for our parish programs. I will explain that after I show how the Archdiocese used the gifts people made last year:

  • About 20% of Appeal dollars came back to the parishes in the form of rebates.
  • About 17% went to Clergy Services: St. John Vianney Seminary, The St. Paul Seminary, hospital chaplains, prison chaplains, and the retirement residence for priests.
  • About 12% went to Catholic Charities.
  • About 26% went to Catholic education: elementary and high schools, as well as campus ministry programs.
  • About 6% went to parish outreach, including the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, the mission parish in Venezuela, and Hispanic, Indian, and Deaf Ministries.
  • About 10% went to Marriage and Family Life programs, including marriage preparation, Persons with Disabilities, and Respect Life programs.
  • About 9% went to fundraising and communications offices.

The first bullet point above mentions rebates to the parishes. This year, once the Appeal office receives actual contributions that take our parish above its goal, we will receive back 25% of all the dollars actually given. Last year this gave our parish $20,000 on which we did not have to pay any assessment (which is akin to your receiving tax-free income in a separate paycheck). Next year, the rules are changing – and in our favor! Next year, once we reach our goal we will get to keep 100% of the additional money contributed by our parishioners. So here at St. Peter’s our history of generosity in the Catholic Services Appeal is good news for our parish’s budget.

I would like to invite those who do not usually give to the Appeal to do so this year, even if it seems to be a small amount. You can give monthly by credit card or automatic withdrawal in ten payments that will be made on the 20th of each month from April 2013 through January 2014. For new givers, please know that a gift of $10 or $20 is not too small to give, as the dollars all add up. I hope you will consider giving to this year’s Catholic Services Appeal.

At Faithful Shepherd Catholic School, one of the most important fundraisers we do is the Gala for Giving. This excellent dinner and auction event will be Saturday, February 9 beginning at 5:00. There is a silent auction and a live auction, and this year a welcome change will be the addition of an online auction. Many of the items that used to be in the live auction will be in the online auction now, and so they will enjoy wider exposure for a longer period of time than they ever could have before. The live auction will be shorter and more fun, and we hope will the whole effect will be of greater benefit for the school. The online auction started on Wednesday, January 30 and ends on Wednesday, February 6 at 10:00 pm. You can go to the auction site right away at You might notice that my donation is a dinner for up to four people with me at Forepaugh’s Restaurant in the historic Irvine Park neighborhood of St. Paul, near West Seventh Street. Perhaps you’d like to give it a look.

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