Gifts Worth Giving

March 16-22, 2006
Gifts Worth Giving
By Connie Cissell/ SUN editor
SUN photo(s) SUN file photos Paul Finch
Annual HOPE Appeal Gears Up for Another Successful Year

With last year’s campaign a great success, HOPE Appeal coordinator Christopher (Kit) Parker is hopeful that this year will be a repeat performance. Last year’s campaign, the single most successful campaign on record, pledged $4.1 million dollars with a goal of $3,950,000, the same goal for 2006. According to Parker, leadership donors who must pledge $500 or more, contributed more than $1 million in 2005. That donor program began four years ago, Parker said, and already the average gift has increased by 30 percent.

Another significant group of contributors are the priests of the diocese. “The priests gave $583 dollars on average,” Parker said, explaining their personal contributions.

Because the money raised has such a significant impact on the ministries of the diocese, priests often have direct contact with those who benefit from the HOPE Appeal. Father Robert Chryst is administrator of St. Anthony of Padua Church on Syracuse’s south side. He also happens to be director of the Spanish Apostolate in the Western Region of the diocese, an office that receives monies from the HOPE Appeal. His parishioners know how important the appeal is to the apostolate. Father Chryst said he does ask his parishioners for support and that the people in his parish are very generous. Last year the parish pledged 220.35% of its goal.

Each year there is a regional kickoff and reception held usually in late February or early March that is hosted by Bishop James Moynihan. Then, a committee is assembled in each parish to work to communicate the goals of the HOPE Appeal campaign to church members. Typically presentations are made, a direct mailing to parishioners arrives in mailboxes in May, parishioners view the HOPE Appeal video and pastors or committee members make announcements from the pulpit and in church bulletins.

Bishop Frank Harrison may not have anticipated today’s need for the HOPE Appeal when he initiated the first campaign back in April of 1978. The key programs that are impacted by HOPE Appeal dollars include parishes who receive 50% back from any money raised over goal, religious education and youth ministry programs, recruiting and training lay pastoral leadership, ethnic apostolates and Catholic outreach, vocations to the priesthood and religious life, strengthening the services of Catholic Charities and assistance to Catholic schools. With such a broad brushstroke of agencies, the HOPE Appeal is certain to touch all members of the local church on some level.

Father Lester Smith is pastor of St. Malachy’s Church in Sherburne. He attributes his parish’s successful HOPE Appeal campaign to the willingness of the people to support all these programs. St. Malachy’s made 188.33% of its goal making it one of the top parishes for giving. “The people want to support the bishop and as pastor I do get behind the HOPE Appeal,” Father Smith said. “I suppose it [HOPE Appeal success in his parish] is a combination of people who love their parish, desire to support the bishop and his work, and the fact that I get behind it.”

Another important aspect of the HOPE Appeal is that no funds raised through the HOPE Appeal are used to support the appeal’s administrative or campaign costs. If applied against income, HOPE Appeal costs would be equal to 6% of 2005 income, or the cost is six cents for each dollar raised. The appeal is a convenient way to support ministries that help persons with disabilities, the young, the elderly, families, the marginalized and other members of the human family. Bishop Moynihan said the HOPE Appeal is the lifeline of support for all of the many ministries that are conducted throughout the diocese. “Many of these ministries happen inside a parish and many more go beyond parishes,” he said. The bishop explained that many programs that were subsidized by the government are now gone and more and more support is needed from churches.

“Now days the calls on our resources are more frequent than ever,” Bishop Moynihan said. “So many things that were subsidized by the state are no longer, but now have become the responsibility of the churches. The churches have a difficult time meeting those responsibilities. We’d like to say no person who comes to us for help is ever turned away. But, that can only happen when the people of our parishes, of our diocese, give us the wherewithal to make that possible. Hopefully we can do even better than last year.”
To find out more about the HOPE Appeal, call (315) 472-0203 or 1-800-295-4776.

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