Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Diocesan Annual Campaign Kickoff Meeting Invigorates Parishes for 2024, Demonstrates Impact of Parishioner Contributions

Bishop Timothy Senior offers opening remarks at the kickoff meeting for the 2024 Diocesan Annual Campaign, which provides resources, expertise, guidance and support for more than 90 ministries and programs throughout the Diocese.
Bishop Timothy Senior offers opening remarks at the kickoff meeting for the 2024 Diocesan Annual Campaign, which provides resources, expertise, guidance and support for more than 90 ministries and programs throughout the Diocese.
Father Joshua Weaver speaks to pastors and parish staff about the direct impact that DAC funding has on the Office of Vocations.
Father Joshua Weaver speaks to pastors and parish staff about the direct impact that DAC funding has on the Office of Vocations.

A kickoff meeting ahead of the 2024 Diocesan Annual Campaign (DAC) served to invigorate parish staff for their upcoming efforts in the annual appeal, and placed a spotlight on the impact of parishioner contributions toward a vibrant Church in our Diocese.

Pastors, parish staff and volunteers involved with promoting and launching the 2024 campaign, “Nourished by Faith,” were welcomed to the DAC kickoff meeting by the Diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. The 2024 campaign begins February 1.

The kickoff event, on January 10 at the Diocesan Center in Harrisburg, began with opening remarks from Bishop Timothy Senior, who expressed his gratitude for those who support the campaign, which is critical to the mission of the Church.

“Your support is irreplaceable,” he told the priests and parish staff. “What you do on the parish level is extremely important for the campaign and ultimately for the health and vibrancy of our Diocese. We are dependent upon the campaign for so many of the initiatives that we undertake on a Diocesan-wide level.”

“Because of the generosity of the people of the Diocese, we are able to provide services to support the mission of our parishes and continue to spread the Gospel,” the bishop said.

A glimpse of the multitude of ministries and programs funded by the Diocesan Annual Campaign was provided via an impact video shown during the kickoff meeting. Filled with photos of faith in action and highlights of Diocesan efforts in 2023, the video illustrates impacts to various efforts – including education, religious vocations, evangelization, youth and young adults, and respect life ministry – and is being made available to parishes to share with their parishioners.

Kim Roche, Diocesan Director of Stewardship and Development, remarked that contributions to the 2023 DAC exceeded the goal of $7.3 million, with $7.68 million in donations (and counting) as of January 5. A total of 65 parishes met their goal, and more than $639,000 in rebates will be shared among them.

The goal for the 2024 Diocesan Annual Campaign is $7,442,245.

In an ongoing effort to support parishes in their campaign efforts, Roche spoke about best practices for donor retention, engaging new donors, and raising the profile of the DAC and how it supports Diocesan and parish efforts.

In a series of presentations, four directors of Diocesan offices gave examples of how DAC dollars directly impact their ministries, programs and services.

“Catholic Charities is focused on Catholic social teaching and preserving the life and dignity of those around us,” said Kelly Gollick, the organization’s Executive Director. “DAC funding goes to programs that have the most financial need.” These include Lourdeshouse maternity home, which provides food, shelter, money management and childcare classes, and housing and employment assistance; the Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Families, which serves clients with temporary shelter, food and basic supplies while helping them secure stable housing, employment and support services; and outpatient counseling to ensure that people receive the mental health support they need.

“DAC funding gives us the discretion to use your donations based on the needs of our community,” Gollick said.

Deacon Gregory Amarante, Diocesan Secretary for Catholic Life and Evangelization, offered a glimpse at the breadth of programs within the secretariat, which include Laity and Family; Youth and Young Adult Ministry; Life and Dignity; and Culture, Identity and Outreach. Efforts span from mentor couple formation and review of marriage prep policy to support of the expanding number of young adult groups and new networks for pastoral care and prison ministry.

Deacon Amarante also spoke of new initiatives, including Red Bird Ministries for those suffering the loss of a child; Life-Giving Wounds, for adult children of divorce; and the CLI Next Generation Parish Program to bring leadership consultation to parishes.

“In addition to our many events and programs throughout the year, we also exist as a department to give policy guidance, ministry and resource recommendations, ministry launch support and professional development,” Deacon Amarante said.

The Diocese’s Associate Superintendent of Education, Margaret Barrett, emphasized the work of the Office of Education in serving pastors, principals, parents and catechists in the formation and education of more than 18,000 students.

In particular, she highlighted the office’s strategic vision, unveiled in May of 2022, to focus on mission effectiveness and Catholic identity, academic quality, financial and operational practices, and staffing and enrollment – four areas in which the office supports Catholic schools through the Diocesan Annual Campaign.

Other focus initiatives made possible through DAC dollars are the upcoming introduction of a program using St. John Paul II’s teaching on the Theology of the Body; partnership with the National Catholic Education Association for the annual Education Conference; catechist formation and support; and the ongoing Principals Academy to raise educators into administrative roles.

“Because of the support of the Diocesan Annual Campaign, the Education Office is able to support our teachers, students, principals, pastors, DREs and parents in the education and formation of over 18,000 students in the Diocese of Harrisburg,” Barrett remarked.

Father Joshua Weaver, Diocesan Director of Vocations, wrapped up the impact presentations with a candid look at how DAC funding enables his office to support men and women discerning a religious vocation. These efforts include the Quo Vadis Days discernment retreat and Visit a Seminary Day for young men, as well as spiritual formation programs and psychological evaluations for those in formation.

“Young people in the Diocese really are on fire for God and to follow Him, and your support of the DAC is what helps me actually support and equip them,” he said. “When someone says to me, ‘Father, I feel called to be a priest or religious,’ I can’t just say, ‘Pray about it and come back to me.’ To have pamphlets, books or programs on how to actually discern and pray with these things is really helpful.”

“The Vocations Office is about forming men who not only love the Lord with their whole heart, but who also love you and know how to bring Jesus to you and you to Jesus. You have a right to that. You have a right to have priests who love Jesus Christ and who love you and want nothing more than for you to love Him, too,” Father Weaver said. “Everything we do in the office is geared toward that.”

The second half of the kickoff meeting focused on best practices for parishes, including DAC promotion, donor retention and growth, and streamlining donor materials. Representatives from two parishes – Father Kevin Coyle, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Annville, and Steve Desjardins, parish manager of St. Peter Parish in Elizabethtown – shared a recount of how their parish went from falling short of their goal to exceeding it in just one year by refocusing and targeting their efforts.

After the kickoff meeting, Roche told The Catholic Witness that the event is an “opportunity to have parishes reset their focus for the DAC and to put into place a few stewardship action items that help kick-start the 2024 effort.”

“For the parishes and their staff and volunteers that come, they appreciate the time to gather together and hear from the bishop and get to know other folks who are doing similar work in other parishes,” she said.

As Director of Stewardship and Development, Roche wants the parishes to know that her office and staff are here to support parishes in their efforts for the Diocesan Annual Campaign.

“We have seen remarkable success in parishes that had struggled to meet their goals who are now successful. We feel a great deal of satisfaction when the parishes use the tools that we work so hard to create and their efforts are successful,” Roche said. “It is really a partnership between the parishes, pastors, staff, volunteers and the folks at the Diocese all working together to advance the mission of the Church.”

As the 2024 DAC gets underway on February 1, Roche expressed her gratitude to the parishioners who make the annual campaign a success because of their contributions.

“I would like to offer my gratitude and thanks for every donor who makes a gift, no matter the size, that allows the parish and the Diocese the ability to fund programs and ministries that respond to the needs of the faithful. The work that we all do is manifested by the examples from the department heads about the real impact that they are able to be a part of,” she said.

Learn more about the Diocesan Annual Campaign and see your gifts in action at www.hbgdiocese.org/diocesan-annual-campaign.

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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