Aug. 7-20, 2003
By Blessed Sacrament staff/ SUN contributing writers
Annual HOPE Appeal campaign is gaining ground on its goal
Step by step, the 25th Annual HOPE Appeal is getting closer to reaching its goal. As of July 25, 2003, the campaign, which kicked off May 17, 2003, has received a total of $3,182,841 in gifts and pledges. This is approximately $100,000 ahead of the same time last year. “The campaign is doing well,” said Christopher “Kit” Parker, diocesan director of development. “This is good news for the 82 programs and ministries in the diocese that benefit from HOPE Appeal contributions.”
The number of donors in 2003 is up by 16 percent as compared to 2002. In addition, as of July 25, 2003, 18 parishes in the diocese have met or exceeded their HOPE Appeal goals, compared to eight parishes last year at the same time. Parker attributes the success of the campaign thus far to incresed levels of parish involvement in the campaign, coupled with an improving economy. “The pastors and church leadership have been doing many positive things to accomplish their goals,” said Parker. “They are actively involved in soliciting gifts and have shown continuous support for the campaign.”
Though a smaller parish, St. Anthony of Padua Church in Syracuse is one of the parishes that met its goal. Father Robert Chryst, administrator at St. Anthony’s, said that two-thirds of the parishioners contributed to HOPE Appeal. Father Chryst explained that St. Anthony’s explored several avenues to raise awareness for the campaign. In addition to the diocesan HOPE Appeal mailings sent out by the Development Office, St. Anthony’s distributed its own mailings to parishioners and played a brief HOPE Appeal video during Masses. Father Chryst also gave “gentle reminders” to parishioners regarding giving to HOPE Appeal.
“We remind parishioners, without badgering them, about the importance of HOPE Appeal,” said Father Chryst. Ralph Hodson, who helped to administer the HOPE Appeal campaign at St. Joseph Church in LaFayette, (another parish that met its HOPE Appeal goal), agreed that it is important to spotlight the campaign without making parishioners feel uncomfortable. “Father Minehan [pastor of St. Joseph Church] drops lines asking people to consider gifts, but he never pushes parishioners to give to HOPE Appeal,” said Hodson. “People at St. Joseph’s are very generous. We have always exceeded our goal.” Parishes need not be wealthy or large to sustain goals. It just takes a little bit from everyone, said Father Chryst.
“There are not a lot of wealthy parishioners or big givers here,” Father Chryst said of St. Anthony’s Parish. “We do have a good number of generous people who give modest gifts. That’s what helps.” Programs and ministries in the diocese that benefit from the funds generated by the major campaign range from hospital chaplaincies to Newman Centers to Catholic Charities block grants. At some point a program supported by the HOPE Appeal will directly impact every parishioner. This might also make people inclined to donate to the campaign. “There are parishioners at St. Anthony’s, as there are in all parishes, who are using the services and ministries funded through the HOPE Appeal,” pointed out Father Chryst. “They see the good these programs do and know what a good cause they’re donating to.”
St. John the Evangelist Church in Pulaski is another parish that has met or exceeded its goal. “The people at St. John’s have always been very generous,” said Bill Flynn, director of faith formation at St. John’s Church. “They understand the need for the HOPE Appeal.” Not enough information has been received to make any long-term projections about the success of this year’s campaign, cautioned Parker. But he remains optimistic. “A realistic projection will not be valid until we have at least 90 days of information,” said Parker. “What can be said is that we are ahead of last year’s pace after the first 60 days and we are very pleased with that.”
The HOPE Appeal was established in 1978 by Bishop Frank Harrison so that people of the diocese could carry on the good work of the Catholic Church. Without the campaign, the diocese would not be able to serve adequately the 200,000 people who depend on its support. To ensure that those who need this help continue to receive it, contributions to the HOPE Appeal are still welcomed. “If everyone does something, it is possible for every parish to reach its goal,” said Father Chryst.
A brief video explaining the ministries supported by the HOPE Appeal is available from the Development Office. For more information about the campaign or to obtain a copy of the video, contact the Development Office at (315) 472-0203.