Annual Appeal’s ‘thank you’ efforts include calls, letters, parish visits

Accepting a gift often includes saying "thank you."

And that’s what the archdiocese’s Stewardship and Development Office is all about this time of year. As the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal takes in more pledges than its $3.5 million goal, development officers are sending out thank you letters and making telephone calls and personal visits to parishes.

"We want to thank everyone for being generous," said Bree Peterson, a development officer. Whether involved in parish, school or other ministries, "all of us in one way or another are impacted by the greater story that makes us all one community, one church," Peterson said.

The annual appeal is important to the archdiocese because it provides 20 percent of its annual budget, helping give scholarships to students in the archdiocese’s 70 elementary and high schools, train lectors and ministers of holy Communion, prepare couples for marriage and offer programs to enrich families, support priests, deacons and seminarians and assist the needy through Catholic Charities.

So far this year, the appeal has received pledges totaling more than $3.86 million, marking the seventh straight time it has surpassed its goal. Those pledges come from 14,954 donors, including a record 1,110 people in the Archbishop’s Circle of Donors with gifts of $1,000 or more, Peterson said.

A total of 97 parishes have exceeded their goals, including eight parishes since the last report in the Catholic Voice: Sacred Heart in Boyd County, Immaculate Conception in Boys Town, St. Patrick in Elkhorn, St. Peter de Alcantara in Ewing, St. Rose of Lima in Genoa and St. Cecilia, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Robert Bellarmine, all in Omaha.

All donors receive thank you letters, and parishes exceeding goals are asked if they would like someone in the development office to visit during Masses, yet another way to express gratitude, Peterson said.

St. Joseph Parish in Omaha recently accepted the offer, and development officer Tom Crowley addressed the congregation Feb. 5, at the 8:30 a.m. Spanish Mass.

Crowley delivered part of his thank you in Spanish, while Father William Bond, pastor, translated the rest. "People were very welcoming," Crowley said. "They seemed very appreciative. It’s such a joyful community."

Other ways the office expresses its gratitude include a "thank-a-thon" of archdiocesan officials calling donors to talk with them or leave messages of gratitude, Peterson said. Last year, officials with the Center for Family Life Formation, Catholic Charities, Catholic Schools, Catholic Voice, Evangelization and Catechesis, Human Resources, Finance and Stewardship and Development called 1,680 people, Peterson said.

And every household in the archdiocese receives a thank you note at the appeal’s conclusion at the end of June, with letters hitting mailboxes about the second week of July, she said.

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