The Archbishop’s Annual Appeal is about to embark on its 37th year of raising funds to help people in a wide variety of ways across the Archdiocese of Hartford.
The 2016 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal raised more money than in any other year in its history, with a grand total of more than $11 million in gifts from thousands of generous donors.
Since 1981, donations received through the appeal have assisted tens of thousands of people across the archdiocese through health care, education, housing, emergency expenses and in numerous other areas.
The 2016 theme, God’s Mercy at Work, reflects the mercy and compassion of 42,000 donors who provided an average gift of more than $250. Two bequests, one for $297,000 and the other for 124,000, also contributed to the record amounts raised.
The appeal enables the Archdiocese of Hartford to be the largest nongovernmental provider of social services, health care services and education in the state of Connecticut.
Thousands of students are educated in Catholic schools in which nearly a quarter of all eligible students receive tuition assistance. Thousands more people are served in social service and health care programs through Catholic Charities, the St. Vincent de Paul Mission of Waterbury, the Malta House of Care medical van and a number of other archdiocesan ministries.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said that the corporal works of mercy are found in the teachings of Jesus and provide a model for the treatment of others “as if they were Christ in disguise.” They include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting prisoners, burying the dead and giving alms to the poor. Each of the corporal works of mercy is fulfilled through the appeal’s Vicariate Outreach Program.
In the last 15 years, the Vicariate Outreach Program has provided more than $14 million to local organizations that practice the corporal works of mercy as described by the Church. For the first time in its history, the 2016 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal provided more than $1 million to 246 local organizations throughout the archdiocese that perform the works of mercy.
Through Vicariate Outreach Program grants, the appeal reaches into every community in the archdiocese. Since pastors are especially aware of the organizations making a difference in the lives of those being served in their local neighborhoods, they are asked each year to recommend a local organization to receive a grant. In 2016, grants to community programs included family service centers, addiction treatment and counseling centers, food pantries and soup kitchens, senior centers, youth services and children’s education programs, ministries for the deaf, emergency fuel banks, emergency shelters and homeless programs, hospice care centers, pro-life outreach programs and pregnancy support centers, nursing programs, prison ministries and volunteer fire department and police action leagues.
The appeal also provides parishes with a burial assistance fund for families experiencing financial hardship when faced with burial costs.
At a donor appreciation dinner last October, Archbishop Blair presented a check for $10,000 to Judith Barron, executive director of the Community Dining Room, which serves 4,500 meals each month to people in East Haven and other shoreline towns. The grant was one of many that were presented to nonprofit organizations serving those in need.
Archbishop Blair expressed his gratitude to all those who supported the 2016 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.
Robert McTiernan is the director of the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal