Archbishop’s Annual Appeal exceeds goal seventh straight year

It’s another goal-breaking year.

More than $3.75 million – surpassing the $3.5 million goal – has been pledged thus far in the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, marking the seventh straight year it’s risen above expectations.

"I am happy to be able to announce that we have surpassed our goal for the 2016-2017 Annual Appeal," said Archbishop George J. Lucas. "I encourage all who have yet to participate to join the effort to fund the necessary good works that touch people across our archdiocese."

Those good works – with the appeal providing 20 percent of the archdiocese’s annual budget – include providing scholarships for students in the archdiocese’s 70 elementary and high schools, training lectors and ministers of holy Communion, preparing couples for marriage, offering programs to enrich families, supporting priests, deacons and seminarians, and assisting the needy through Catholic Charities.

So far this year, the appeal has received pledges from 14,348 donors, including a record 1,083 people in the Archbishop’s Circle of Donors with gifts of $1,000 or more, said Breeane Peterson, development officer with the archdiocese’s Stewardship and Development Office.

That’s only 750 donors away from the highest participation ever, and 89 parishes have exceeded their goals, she said.

Parishes topping their goals for the first time include: St. Joseph in Atkinson, St. Anthony in Columbus, St. Benedict the Moor and St. Pius X in Omaha, and St. Bernadette in Bellevue.

"We are really glad to see participation numbers increase, because it really helps spread awareness of all of the programs, services and ministries the archdiocese offers that a lot of people may not be aware of," Peterson said.

And people can still jump on board. Over the next couple weeks, a mailing will go out to households that have participated in the past but have not yet pledged to the 2016-2017 appeal, Peterson said. "We’re really excited to see what the next few months will bring," she said

The appeal, which began in September, continues through June, Peterson said.

"The biggest aspect of the appeal is the participation, so we’re hoping that we can continue to encourage people to see the good works the archdiocese is doing and to participate in the appeal," Peterson said.

Asking parishioners to tell their personal stories of benefiting from the appeal has helped people feel more connected, Peterson said.

Those presentations have included videos shown at Masses of a seminarian, a candidate in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and a couple in marriage preparation, she said. More in-depth videos of their stories will be sent to parishioners via e-mails and postings on the archdiocese’s social media sites.

Guest speakers at parish Masses also have been instrumental in the appeal’s success, Peterson said.

"More than one-third of the parishes where they spoke are over goal, so that’s been a tremendous help," she said.

"There’s also been great energy behind the appeal from pastors and parish leaders around the archdiocese," Peterson said. "We thank them for all the work they have done toward seeing their parishes exceed their goals."

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