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People responding to appeal with pledges, prayer requests


By Randy Grosse
The Catholic Voice

The Omaha Archdiocese's annual stewardship appeal provided the usual opportunities for the people to respond with spiritual and financial pledges to their parish and archdiocese. And they've responded in numbers well ahead of the 2003 appeal.

But the current appeal also gave people the opportunity to present their prayer needs to Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss.

And there, too, they've responded.

Tim McNeil, development officer with the Office of Stewardship and Development, said hundreds and hundreds of prayer requests are being submitted.

"The response has been tremendous and very satisfying," he said. "And the archbishop is praying over them in his chapel."

McNeil said Archbishop Curtiss is "touched by the needs" the people are presenting and their willingness to turn to prayer.

As for the financial part of the appeal, McNeil said a total of 9,627 households have pledged $1,724,025 – 86.2 percent of the appeal goal – as of Dec. 13. That compares to 8,784 households and pledges of $1,525,911 – 76.3 percent of the goal – at the same time last year.

McNeil said the increased response could be due to a number of factors, including a growing awareness among parishioners about "who and what the archdiocese is, as well as its mission."

The publicity surrounding the Archdiocesan Synod last summer helped in that process, McNeil said, but he also attributed the increased awareness to the cumulative effect of five years of annual appeals promotion and education.

"We also took a different approach with our mail package this year," he said. "That also might have been a factor."

While the overall appeal is at more than 86 percent of goal, several parishes already have exceeded their parish goal for the archdiocesan appeal.

As of Dec. 1, 60 parishes were at or above goal, compared to 53 parishes at the same time last year.

Two parishes – St. Mary in Hubbard and St. John Nepomucene in Howells – are at more than 300 percent of goal. Nine others – St. Patrick in Jackson, St. Francis of Assisi in Neligh, St. Bonaventure in Raeville, St. John the Evangelist in Valley, and Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Agnes, St. Anthony and St. Mary Magdalene, all in Omaha – have pledges totaling at least 200 percent of their parish goal.

"We had a number of parishes reach or exceed goal very quickly," McNeil said. "Last year, we had more than 80 parishes exceed goal, and I'd expect us to be in that neighborhood again."

Spiritual pledges – including saying the rosary, praying before meals and attending Mass – are being tabulated separately. McNeil expects to have some totals on those pledges by the end of the year.

The Catholic Voice

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