April 25, 2002
By Howie Mansfield
St. Francis of Assisi offered these words of wisdom while ministering to the poor: “It is in giving that we receive.”
The gifts of the people of God are freely given — through ministry, workshops, support groups, prayer, education and service to others. Those in need have been comforted and those wanting to help in the work of the church have been able to do so due to the generosity and support from people across the diocese who have consistently and faithfully supported the annual HOPE Appeal.
On May 5, the Syracuse Diocese begins its 24th HOPE Appeal campaign that supports the good works of the people of the seven counties in Central New York and the Southern Tier. This year’s goal is $4.2 million, the same as in 2001. Christopher [Kit] Parker, diocesan director of development and stewardship, said 2001 was a great year for the HOPE Appeal. Last year, the HOPE Appeal collected over $3.9 million toward its $4.2 million goal, up 25 percent from 2000. The average gift in 2001 was 16.5 percent higher, pledges were 25 percent greater than in 2000 and the number of donors increased by six and a half percent.
“We were so successful in 2001 that we hope we have the ability to do the same in 2002,” Parker said. “HOPE Appeal funds go to those things that can’t be funded by the individual parishes.” Kathy Mott, associate director for annual giving, stressed that the HOPE Appeal only provides monies for the ministries of the church outlined in the campaign.
“The HOPE Appeal is a campaign to raise money to help people. No money goes to anything but these services and programs,” Mott said. “The main focus is Catholic Charities, Catholic schools, religious education and vocations.” Father James Quinn, diocesan director of the Office of Vocation Promotion, said the HOPE Appeal is a necessary part of his office. Father Quinn explained, “We host programs that take potential candidates to weekend retreats, and we also host discernment nights and retreats. All that is made possible by the funding we receive.” Father Quinn said the Office of Vocation Promotion constantly prepares mailings and information to be sent to individuals across the diocese.
“We print brochures and posters, along with a 100-page manual to strength parish vocation committees. We communicate with every 10th grader in confirmation. We write to every young man and woman and ask them to consider the possibility that God could call them. We send out over 3,000 letters each year,” Father Quinn said. “And those who show greater interest, we send them a personal letter from the bishop and contact them throughout the year.” The number of seminarians is a testament to the support of parishioners throughout the years, Father Quinn explained.
“Five years ago, we had seven seminarians. Today, we have 22 seminarians,” Father Quinn said. “The Holy Father said everyone is a recruiter for vocations. There are two ways to encourage vocations — through prayer and personal invitation. Almost every candidate said it was someone in the parish that saw something in them. It’s very important to keep vocation awareness in front of parishioners. They know who would make a fine priest or religious.” Father Quinn said educating youth about vocations is another high priority for his office. “The gifts from the HOPE Appeal make it possible for us to go into schools and make presentations. Young people need to be educated about the treasures of the church, religious life and consecrated life,” he said.
The Syracuse Diocese has continued to be a leader in religious education across New York State, said Sister Katie Eiffe, CSJ, diocesan director of religious education. Religious education is another program that benefits from the HOPE Appeal. “Syracuse is unique,” Sister Katie said. “We meet people from other dioceses and they are in awe of us because there is such a commitment toward catechetical ministry. Our whole ministry is based on catechists who are people that want to share their faith.” The meaning of the word catechist helps to explain the mission of the religious education office. “Catechist means to echo the word,” Sister Katie said. “It’s passing on the faith of God and the faith in the Word of God. All catechists are called to ministry and we respond to that call.”
The diocesan religious education resource centers, direct services to parishes and other groups, and support programs for religious educators are all funded by the HOPE Appeal, serving thousands of people each year. Sister Katie said the importance of religious education is something that cannot be underestimated. “Father Aiello says, ‘Religious education is one ministry that touches every parish and every family,’” Sister Katie said. “This year more than ever, we need support from the HOPE Appeal. While the most visible aspect of our service is parish programs for children, faith formation is something we all participate in throughout our life.” Bishop James Moynihan considers the annual appeal one of the most important events within the diocese. “One particular joy for me is that I see the people’s gifts to the HOPE Appeal having an impact on the lives of our people practically every day,” the bishop said.
He explained that the funds from HOPE Appeal provide tuition assistance to families who might not otherwise be able to send their children to Catholic schools. The funds also allow the teachers in these schools and also the religious education teachers across the diocese to attend seminars and other continuing education programs. For Mott, HOPE Appeal is a reliable and valuable fund-raising effort. “Now more than ever, people realize they need help. They want to give money to a good cause because it makes them feel good inside,” Mott said. Keeping families, marriages and relationships strong is at the core of the diocesan Family Life Education Office. Father Joseph Phillips, diocesan director of the Family Life Education Office and pastor of St. Ann’s Church in Syracuse, said one statement can sum up the meaning of family in the church. “The family is at the center of parish life,” Father Phillips said. “The main focus of our work at the Family Life Office is helping parishes of the diocese respond to the needs of families. We want to help parishes strengthen the link between the church and the home.” Father Phillips said the Family Life Education Office provides resources for parents and helps them raise Catholic children. It also supports marriage and helps to enrich the lives of couples through Marriage Encounters, marriage preparation, World Marriage Day celebration and evenings for married couples at Christ the King Retreat Center.
“We have a large network of support groups throughout the regions of the diocese that assist people and families in crisis. It’s a very important resource for those struggling through crisis,” Father Phillips said. “It’s vital to keep that network strong. There are a variety of ways to assist people, but only through the support of the HOPE Appeal can we do that.” The Spanish Apostolate also receives monies from the HOPE Appeal campaign. Father Robert Chryst, diocesan director of the Spanish Apostolate and pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Syracuse, explained that the office takes time to celebrate the sacraments in the appropriate culture’s tradition. “The Spanish Apostolate is divided into four regional offices,” Father Chryst said. “The Spanish Apostolate provides the sacraments, Sunday Masses and religious instruction in Spanish. It is very typical for these people to own their culture and language and maintain that in the Catholic Church. These people take pride in their heritage and we want to honor that.”
Father Chryst said the Spanish Apostolate serves over 25,000 people per year. “The HOPE Appeal is very important. It makes up about 70 to 75 percent of our budget. That number is less in other areas away from Syracuse,” Father Chryst said. “There would be no or very few services without the HOPE Appeal.” In the opinion of Bishop Moynihan, the HOPE Appeal touches the lives of people all across the diocese. The importance of the monies that are raised each year cannot be stressed too much. The financial aid really makes a difference, impacting everyone from the elderly to babies to the unchurched. A brief video explaining the ministries supported by the HOPE Appeal is available from the Development Office. For more information about the HOPE Appeal or to obtain a copy of the video, contact the diocesan Development Office at (315) 472-0203.
From the Development Office — FAQs Why should I make a donation to HOPE Appeal? Gifts to the HOPE Appeal provide annual funding to over 80 programs and ministries. HOPE Appeal money helps fund services to more than 200,000 people and 170 parishes in the diocese through pastoral, educational, financial and charitable programs. To insure that all those people who need our help continue to receive our care and concern, your support is needed now more than ever.
How is HOPE Appeal money used? Funds received to support the HOPE appeal are allocated only for the programs, services and ministries of the diocese as explained in the Appeal’s case statement and brochures. Examples include Catholic Charities, Catholic schools, Catholic religious education, vocations, evangelization, parish services, social justice and parish sharing.
How have HOPE Appeal contributions been used to support Catholic schools?
HOPE Appeal campaign support for Catholic schools is in the form of annual payments based on how much the campaign raises. In this current year, more than $900,000 have been allocated for Tuition Assistance and Academic Development in our Catholic schools. Almost 25% of all HOPE Appeal funds are directed to Catholic schools.
How is Heritage Campaign money used? Funds received to support the Heritage Campaign may only be used for the specific elements of the campaign’s case statement including Catholic schools, religious education, youth ministries, Catholic Charities, priest retirement, diocesan parishes and HOPE Appeal Ministries. Distribution will be made by the board of the Heritage Campaign, Inc., consistent with the case statement.
How have Heritage Campaign donations been used to support Catholic schools? Heritage Campaign support for Catholic schools is in the form of an endowment. The interest from this endowment will be used for schools. The amount available each year will depend upon investment performance. More than $6,000,000 has already been advanced to Catholic schools for teacher salary supplements. I have read about lawsuits in other areas of the country. How would the Diocese of Syracuse respond to potential lawsuits? Many donors, parishioners and campaign volunteers have shown great interest in the strategies the diocese would employ to pay any financial obligations resulting from lawsuits. The diocese would pay any potential claims from insurance funds, unrestricted assets, or from the sale of property. The practices of the Diocese of Syracuse are to honor the intent of donors and to insure that funds donated for a specific purpose will not be spent for another purpose.