HARTFORD – People who are looking for a way to participate in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in their local and regional community might want to take advantage of the opportunity to contribute to the 2016 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, which will kick off in all parishes of the Archdiocese of Hartford on March 5-6.
The fund-raising campaign traditionally starts during Lent, for Christians a period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
This year’s theme, during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, is “God’s Mercy at Work.” The appeal will offer the faithful the chance to support the ministries of the archdiocese as well as its many charitable good works that strive to meet the spiritual and temporal needs of people nearby.
The appeal will also give Catholics the opportunity to heed Pope Francis’ call in this Jubilee Year of Mercy to “open our hearts to those living on the outermost fringes of society.” This year’s campaign puts a spotlight on two such groups: the homeless and the incarcerated.
Informational materials, including a special video and pledge cards, will be available in parishes on March 5-6. Donating will be made easier than ever through a combination of in-pew solicitations, mailings and online and social media giving.
The fund-raising goal for 2016 is $8.5 million.
In 2015, the appeal raised more than $10,530, surpassing the $8.5-million goal. It was the fourth consecutive year that parishioners’ generosity topped $10 million.
The money was used to fund more than 35 archdiocesan ministries, plus 245 local charities.
According to the 2015 appeal accountability report, the largest portion of the pledges – more than $3.2 million – was allocated to the charitable good works of the church.
These included Catholic Charities, which provided behavioral health care and nearly 40 other services to those in need, Malta House of Care’s mobile health care clinics and St. Vincent de Paul Society’s homeless shelters, soup kitchens and thrift stores. Emergency assistance grants and parish assistance grants were also part of the church’s good works.
More than $1.4 million was directed to securing the future of the church through the development of priestly vocations and permanent deacons to serve in parishes throughout the archdiocese. Funds went to the Vocation Office, seminarian education and diaconate formation programs.
More than $1.4 million was channeled to building up the faith life of the church through pastoral ministries, such as divine worship, charismatic renewal, small Christian communities, the marriage and family apostolate, pro-life activities, social justice ministry, disabilities office, the Hispanic apostolate, black Catholic ministries, campus ministries and evangelization.
Last year, $1 million was allotted to the critical formation and education of youth through financial support of the Office of Religious Education and Evangelization and the Office of Catholic Schools.
The Vicariate Outreach Program – which includes the Hartford Vicariate, New Haven Vicariate and Waterbury Vicariate – garnered a total of $948,000 for distribution to 245 worthy local charities. Too numerous to name, many fall into the categories of local food pantries, emergency shelters, soup kitchens, hospices, pregnancy care centers, fuel banks and volunteer ambulance services.
More than $876,000 went to spreading the message of the Catholic faith through the Archdiocese of Hartford’s communications outlets, including WJMJ radio, the Office of Radio and Television, The Catholic Transcript newspaper print edition and its website, and the website of the archdiocese.
Catholic school tuition assistance grants accounted for more than $812,000 from the appeal.
A little over $749,000 went to support retired clergy.
The 2016 appeal will continue to fund necessary faith-based ministries and charitable good works.
“We literally cover every single spiritual and corporal work of mercy,” said Matthew Wood, archdiocesan appeal coordinator. “We ask people to pray on it and participate.”