HARTFORD – During appearances at a dozen fund-raising dinners in the first two months of the year, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair has personally greeted more than 3,500 potential donors, urging them to continue building hope and providing help by contributing to the 2014 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.
“The Catholic people of the Archdiocese of Hartford have a wonderful history of meeting the spiritual and material needs of others, especially those who are underserved among us,” Archbishop Blair says in the promotional video produced by the archdiocesan Office of Radio and Television and shown at all the fund-raising events and in parishes. “Through your gift to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, the poor are lifted up, the hungry are fed, the homeless are sheltered, the lost are guided and those without hope can find their way again,” he continues.
According to Michael Divers, appeal coordinator, attendance at the dinners increased by as many as 600 people over last year, and donations as of early March have been running slightly ahead of last year’s. The goal of $8.5 million remains the same, as does the challenge goal of $10 million. The total amount pledged in last year’s appeal was a record $10,305,686.
The $10-million pie is sliced up to serve people seeking help from an Emergency Assistance Fund, designed to help people in unexpected circumstances; a tuition assistance program, for families who can’t afford Catholic school tuition; the Vicariate Outreach Program, for local charities chosen at the parish level; priestly vocations; the Malta House of Care mobile medical clinics; and much more.
A Malta House of Care van has been serving uninsured patients in Hartford since 2006 and in Waterbury since 2010. This summer, a third van will begin serving the New Haven community, beginning at St. Rose of Lima Parish in the Fair Haven section, said Father Gene E. Gianelli, pastor of Church of the Assumption in Woodbridge. Father Gianelli is a member of the Pastors’ Advisory Committee, a group of about 14 priests who advise the archbishop on needs the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal could address.
There is much yet to do before the third van begins rolling, but many people are scurrying behind the scenes to make it happen, Father Gianelli said. “It depends very much on getting recognized as a charitable organization by the federal government and the state government,” he said. Paperwork to accomplish that was being processed as he spoke, he said. Once a checking account is established, the appeal will send seed money, he added.
He has visited the site at St. Rose of Lima Parish, and a fire marshal is expected to visit and approve it soon, he said. To raise awareness, “We have a banner, which will go from parish to parish in the parishes in New Haven, saying the Malta van will be coming,” he said.
Once St. Rose of Lima is established as a weekly stop, two parishes likely to be added are St. Martin de Porres and Sacred Heart/St. Anthony, Father Gianelli said.
Medical professionals from Yale-New Haven Hospital are expected to meet with Peter G. Kelly, chairman of the Malta House of Care Foundation, to witness the Hartford van in operation. Medical and other volunteers from Yale-New Haven may be recruited for the New Haven van, Father Gianelli said.
“Quinnipiac Medical School’s radiology department is ready to help us with volunteers, so any X-rays we need done we can refer [patients] to their school of medicine,” he said.
The van will be a great boost for the New Haven Vicariate, said Father Gianelli, who has been trying to bring the van to New Haven for seven years. “This now is the capstone of what we’ve been trying to do in the area, and we’ve had tremendous help from the Malta van committees in Hartford and Waterbury. They’ve given us tremendous guidance,” he said.