Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 16, 1978 when the first Mass was held at St. Monica Church, Northford.
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BLOOMFIELD – As churchgoers see donations being used to help other parishioners buy needed medicine or pay a month’s rent, they tend to dig deeper into their pockets for the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.

"A lot of [donors] are writing on their pledge card about the Emergency Assistance Fund, that it allows them to help their fellow parishioners in need, that the Church is a family and they’re supporting that family," said Rosemary Carr, appeal consultant.

The Emergency Assistance Fund helps people who find themselves in financial emergencies. It is administered at the parish level and is funded entirely by the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.

Since Archbishop Henry J. Mansell created the Emergency Assistance Fund in March 2009, the fund has provided social services and more than $445,000 to people in the Archdiocese, said Mary Tunison, who coordinates the fund for Catholic Charities.

Ms. Tunison said that requests for help have "increased considerably since last year at this time," and possibly even have doubled.

"Part of the problem is that a lot of the reserve funds, from the state and so forth, are no longer providing assistance or their funds have run dry, and now [people are] turning to the only source that they can find, which would be their church," she said.

"The fund was set up to help people with a small request in some way, like somebody had an unexpected bill of some kind that just set them back," Ms. Tunison said. This year, though, people seem to be in deeper debt, she added.

Jim Gallagher, who directs the appeal, and Ms. Carr said that they have heard, from parishioners and pastors, that donors want to chip in after seeing the need in their communities, either directly or through an appeal video that was shown in most of the Archdiocese’s 213 parishes.

"Parishioners were very surprised at some of the things they learned from the video," Ms. Carr said.

It told the stories of people who were helped by the appeal by way of the Emergency Assistance Fund or by another of the appeal’s initiatives, such as the Malta House of Care mobile medical clinic, where the uninsured can receive free care; or the Vicariate Outreach Program, which provides financial assistance to worthy community-based charities in New Haven, Litchfield and Hartford counties.

Ms. Carr said that appeal organizers are encouraged by the donations this year. "We’re ahead of last year, and we’re optimistic that we will do very well. We’re optimistic that we’re going to exceed last year’s goal," Ms. Carr said.

Mr. Gallagher said that another encouraging sign is that the average gift of $198 this year is higher than last year’s.

This year’s goal is the same as last year’s: $8.5 million. Last year’s appeal drew $9.2 million.

In addition to sustaining the charitable outreach and good works of the Church, gifts to the appeal support Catholic education and faith formation; retired priests; programs related to the permanent diaconate; many pastoral ministries; the Archdiocese’s media, including The Catholic Transcript; and the 43 men who are preparing to serve as archdiocesan priests.