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Pledges climb to $2.5 million as Annual Appeal efforts continue

More than $2.5 million in pledges since the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal began in September puts it ahead of the $2 million pledged by Nov. 2 last year – and 16 parishes have exceeded their goals.

Several initiatives are helping broaden participation this year, including expanded outreach to a growing Latino community, general chairs encouraging parish leaders and a speaker series that saw 21 ministry leaders visit 33 parishes, said Breeane Peterson, development officer in the Stewardship and Development Office.

The key is "showing how the Annual Appeal impacts so many people in so many ways," Peterson said.

The goal is $3.5 million for fiscal year 2016-2017, and the heart of the appeal is its impact, Peterson said. The appeal provides 20 percent of the archdiocese’s annual budget, which helps fund scholarships for students in the archdiocese’s 70 Catholic elementary and high schools and brings faith formation programs to children, teens and adults in 140 parishes.

The Annual Appeal also helps the archdiocese train lectors and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, provide marriage preparation and family life enrichment programs, support priests, deacons and seminarians and assist the needy through Catholic Charities, Peterson said.

Everyone is impacted, in one way or another, she said.

This year’s theme reflects that fact: "Every town. Every parish. Every person. Your story is part of OUR story of faith."

Sharing the story this year includes a more focused outreach to Latinos, with representatives of about 10 parishes taking advantage of training sessions for leaders who speak Spanish, held Sept. 1 at Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk, Sept. 6 at Divine Mercy Parish in Schuyler and Sept. 8 at Assumption-Guadalupe Parish in Omaha.

A video about the appeal includes Archbishop George J. Lucas speaking Spanish, while materials written in Spanish place particular emphasis on one part of the appeal’s overall message that might resonate with the Latino community: men, women and children in the church working together as a supportive family of faith, development officials said.

"We’re all members of the family of the church and the family of God," said Tom Crowley, development officer in the stewardship office. "We’re just trying to take care of each other."

That message rang true at a recent Sunday Mass at St. Peter Parish in Omaha, said Father John Broheimer, pastor, crediting Father James de Anda, associate pastor.

Speaking in Spanish, Father de Anda encouraged people to hold up appeal material in their pews, Father Broheimer said.

"‘I really mean it,’ Father Broheimer recalled the associate pastor saying. ‘Hold it up if you are a head of household. This is part of the work of the archdiocese, of our charity toward others. You have to do it.’"

This year, "we probably got 10 times the number we usually get," in responses, Father Broheimer said.

Outreach this year also has included general chairs of the appeal, Jim and Suzanne Pillen of St. Isidore Parish in Columbus and Tom and Joanne Kerins of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha, encouraging parish leaders and others at August gatherings in Norfolk and Omaha as the archdiocese geared up for the appeal, Peterson said.

"That’s been very exciting to have them involved," Peterson said.

And archdiocesan ministry leaders and members of the Archbishop’s Committee for Development spoke at more than 30 parishes in September and October, explaining how the appeal helps them serve parishes, schools and other ministries, Peterson said.

Getting more people involved, having people understand how they are impacted and inviting people to share their stories are important aspects of the effort, she said.

EXCEEDING GOALS

St. Michael, Albion; St. Aloysius, Aloys; St. Bonaventure and St. Isidore, both Columbus; St. Ludger, Creighton; St. Anne, Dixon; St. Edward, St. Edward; St. Peter, Fullerton; Ss. Peter and Paul, and St. John Nepomucene, both Howells; St. Joseph, Lyons; Assumption-Guadalupe, St. Joseph, St. Mary Magdalene, all Omaha; St. Bonaventure, Raeville; and St. Boniface, Stuart.

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