People of the diocese continue to generously support mission of the ChurchBy: Linda Leicht Springfield MO
The third and final “block” in the diocese-wide Capital Endowment Campaign will be wrapping up just weeks before the Diocesan Development Fund (DDF) begins in May. But Gene Aug, diocesan Director of Development and Properties, is hopeful that parishioners will generously respond as they did last year.
Conducting both a capital campaign and the Bishop’s Annual Appeal at the same time last year and this year meant the diocese faced a challenge to educate parishioners to the very different needs of both efforts, and reach the needed goals.
Last year, in 2016, Catholics across southern Missouri responded with characteristic generosity in both campaigns, supporting the operational needs of the diocese in the annual Diocesan Development Fund and the endowment needs in the Capital Campaign.
The capital campaign has been organized in three “blocks.” The First Block was conducted primarily in the Cape Girardeau area of the diocese; the Second Block was conducted in the area in and around Springfield; the third and last block includes parishes in the Joplin area and others scattered throughout the diocese.
The Third Block represents the largest geographical area and number of parishes, but not people. The 4,656 households are being asked to pledge a total of $4.9 million over five years. That effort will conclude in April.
DDF Sunday, May 6
The Bishop’s Annual Appeal (DDF) will kick-off the weekend of May 6-7, when parishioners in 39 counties that make up the Church in Southern Missouri will be asked to support the 45-plus ministries of the bishop and the diocese that assist parishes.
“Our people continue to impress me and my colleagues who work with stewardship in neighboring dioceses with their generosity and their giving,” Aug said of the 2016 DDF campaign.
Currently, with 99.6 percent of the $2.6 million goal pledged, he hopes to reach 100 percent by this year’s DDF Sunday.
“Everyone can and should participate in DDF, because everyone is part of the mission,” Bishop Edward Rice said. “There’s not one person who is not part of the mission of Christ. Not everyone can be equal in their gifts, but they can be equal in their generosity of heart.”
“That doesn’t mean that everyone will be able to donate financially, but it certainly means that everyone can participate in DDF in prayer,” the bishop said. Participation in the Diocesan Development Fund enables the mission to continue in southern Missouri.
Ministries & services feed the mission
The annual Diocesan Development Fund supports such programs as religious education, family ministries, youth ministry, Hispanic ministry, Catholic Campus Ministry, the marriage tribunal, deacon formation, advocacy for the most vulnerable among us, and many more.
The money raised ensures that parishes and missions are able to participate in ministries, sponsored by the diocese, in order to serve their faith communities that they might not otherwise be able to undertake. It also assists and develops leadership in parishes to provide formation and outreach while supporting and strengthening local parishes in service of the Gospel, Msgr. Tom Reidy, Chancellor, said.
Parishioners in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau have a history of generosity and support of the DDF campaign and its ministries. Last year, nearly 42 percent of the more than 20,000 households in the diocese pledged to the campaign, with an average gift of $293.62. Even more remarkable, more than 98 percent of those pledges are honored.
“Forty-two percent of our people participate in the annual Diocesan Development Fund,” Bishop Rice said. “When you think about it, that’s almost half of our people. That’s an amazing participation rate.”
Knowing that the Bishop’s Annual Appeal would coincide with the Capital Endowment Campaign, left organizers concerned that 2016 DDF funding could decrease by as much as 10-20 percent, based on what other dioceses experienced, Aug said.
“We were just praying and hoping that we didn’t experience that,” Aug added. “If it had happened, we would have had a difficult time continuing the ministries that we currently offer.”
However, instead of falling, the participation rate in the annual DDF drive remained the same and the average pledge slightly increased!
“We are so blessed in our diocese that generous Catholics continue to respond to the need to grow our faith in southern Missouri,” Aug said.
“The DDF is the primary funding so that we can fulfill our mission of [as a diocese] growing in holiness, be intentional disciples, and to spread the faith and evangelize, particularly with families and our youth, the Church of now,” Bishop Rice said.
“Through the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, the people become the hands and the heart of the bishop,” Bishop Rice said. “By their donation to the DDF, they share in a very beautiful way in all these works. They truly are involved in the mission of Loving Jesus, Serving Jesus, and Sharing Jesus. And you know … this work never stops.”