The 2018 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal is under way. The theme of this year’s appeal “Our Faith, Our Future” will highlight the Archdiocese of Hartford’s emphasis on building a vibrant community of faith, starting with children and families.
During the first months of the year, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was on the road, attending 13 events throughout the archdiocese to thank local Catholics for giving generously to last year’s appeal and to request their kind support for this year’s campaign. Funds raised annually by the appeal are crucial in supporting archdiocesan offices, archdiocesan ministries and the Church’s many charitable works.
More specifically, donors pledged more than $10,505,000. Of that amount, 31 percent went to Catholic Charities and other works of mercy. An additional 10 percent, or more than $1 million, went to the popular Vicariate Outreach Program, which distributes funds to 245 local organizations and charities in Hartford, New Haven and Litchfield counties.
At several of the dinners, donors shared their enthusiasm for giving to the appeal and noted the particular ministries and charities they especially enjoy supporting.
“I love the Malta van,” said Rick Madej, a parishioner at St. Dunstan Parish in Glastonbury. He attended an appeal dinner with his wife Kathy.
Kathy Madej was even more enthusiastic than her husband. “We like the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal because it’s so broad-based the health care, the Catholic education, the immigrants that we feel our money is so well spent,” she said. “And we support the mission of the Church in general.”
She said she also enjoyed participating in the dinner event itself. “It makes you proud to be Catholic,” she said. “All these people are giving and you feel the community.”
Peter Simcik and his wife Margaret of Berlin attended a dinner in place of his mother, Helen Simcik, who gives annually, but was unable to attend herself. Simcik said his mother likes to support the archdiocese’s radio and television ministries. “She likes the music on WJMJ,” he said. “She also watches the daily Mass every day at 10 a.m.”
“I prefer to see it spent on children,” said Majorie Emerick of St. Edmund Campion Parish in East Hartford. She said she particularly likes to see the donations go to religious education in the archdiocese and to needy children through Catholic Charities.
Tina Kohut of South Windsor attended a function with her husband, Joe, and son Justin, who was home from college on a break. “I love the food pantries,” she said. “I’m from North American Martyrs Parish of East Hartford and each of our churches has a food pantry. My second choice would be the Malta van.”
She added that she found the entire evening to be very inspiring. “We see the video in church,” she said, “but somehow [by attending the event] it sinks in a little bit more how much this helps.”
“I don’t favor any one charity over the other,” said Norm Saucier of Divine Providence Parish in New Britain. “I like everything they do and I think the archdiocese has good thoughts about what to do with the money.”
Father Thomas J. Sas, pastor of St. John Fisher Parish in Marlborough, favors the Vicariate Outreach Program and the many charities it supports within local communities.
Father Sas ticked off his favorites: “The Marlborough Food Bank people from our parish are very involved with that organization. AHM Youth and Family Services in Andover, Hebron and Marlborough they have a support program for children and families. Catholic Worker House I say Mass there once a year.”
Father Sas said he also likes to see funds go to the Malta House of Care, which operates the Malta van. “I think it’s important to serve the health of the poor people and the unchurched,” he added.
“I believe in it I believe in the appeal that supports the Catholic Church, our priests, Catholic education and so many other great causes. If we don’t, who will?” asked Theresa DiGiovanna, parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Oxford, who attended a dinner with her husband, Matthew.
“I have five children and 12 grandchildren, and I want to set a good example for them,” she said. “The Archbishop’s Appeal gives to people who really need this kind of support.”
Tim Viega attends St. Teresa of Avila Church in Woodbury/Bethlehem. “I like to get involved in activities that build a sense of community and love,” he said. “The video spoke of supporting youth who are struggling with drugs. I have a cousin whose son died of a heroin overdose. So it strikes a chord when it hits close to home and makes you want to help out.”
“It’s an important way of giving back … of feeding the hungry and helping with so many other important causes,” said Phillip Brezezinski of Sacred Heart Parish in Southbury. His wife Janet added, “The AAA empowers people, whether it’s for food, shelter or other needs. “It gives people the tools and ability to support these areas, and helps us become better followers of the faith.”
Jill Pustola, a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Woodbury, who was at a dinner with her husband Stephen, said, “We’re proud to be part of the appeal that helps all the people in need. We love Carolyn’s Place, the Malta van, Catholic school and helping our priests of all ages because we need vocations.”
Maura Pauli of St. Francis Xavier Parish in New Milford, accompanied by husband Fredrick, said the dinner was an opportunity for them to learn this year’s appeal theme and which agencies are supported by the campaign. “The funds that are raised go directly to help people in need no middle man and that’s important to us.”
Deacon Roland Miller of St. Francis Xavier in New Milford said he and his wife Mary have attended the dinners since they started. “We always hope they give to Carolyn’s Place; that’s my favorite,” said Mary. “Plus, the agencies that feed the poor, and also our Catholic schools.”
“It’s so nice to see where we stand in the archdiocese with the funds that have been raised through the appeal,” said Douglas Corwin, who attended with his wife Cate from St. Louis de Montfort Parish in Litchfield. “It’s nice to see how people benefit from the appeal and hear the back stories behind the giving. It makes it more personal; and we look forward to seeing the video and hearing the archbishop.”
“I especially like to support mental health and programs for people who have lost their jobs,” added Cate, who serves as bookkeeper at the parish. “It’s something that can happen to any one of us.”
“We appreciate what is done through the appeal,” said Bill Sullivan of St. Thomas the Apostle in Oxford, who attended a dinner with his wife Mary. “Catholic schools and the poor are our two top priorities.”
Tina Poet, coordinator for the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, remarked on the donors after meeting them in person at several events.
“The kindness and generosity of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Hartford never cease to amaze me,” Poet said. “I truly believe that the people of the archdiocese live the teaching of the Gospel, which is to help thy neighbor.”