HOPE-ful ministries

Annual appeal sustains diocesan programs

by luke eggleston
SUN staff writer

This isn’t the first year that the HOPE Appeal campaign has used a video to promote its fund-raising efforts, but this year the program has received a stronger response than any in years past, according to Syracuse Diocese Director of Stewardship and Development Christopher (Kit) Parker.

“What we’re hearing is that it brings a vibrancy and a younger feel and that it’s more in keeping with church realities,” said Parker, who added that while the format is little different from past videos, this edition features some new faces.

According to Parker, during past campaigns, each parish that presented the video in church met or surpassed its HOPE Appeal goal.

The video opens with Bishop James Moynihan, who forges a connection between the Pauline legacy Pope Benedict XVI has asked Catholics to honor this year and the spirit of giving.

“In his letter to the Ephesians he [St. Paul] talks about the need for faith and good works in our own lives,” the bishop said in the video. “Thanks to your good works we have successfully served hundreds of thousands of people in need throughout the seven counties of our diocese. Through the years, your good deeds have helped fund programs to feed the hungry and clothe the poor. You help us to prepare our children for the sacraments, to provide a solid foundation for couples planning to be married. You help to assist families who choose to bring Catholic education to their children and you help the sick and homebound. Your gifts help train the lay ministers who give back so much in the way of service to our diocese. A significant portion of your gifts go back to your home parishes to support the food pantries, youth programs and senior services.”

The HOPE Appeal helps finance each ministry of the Syracuse Diocese. Twenty three percent is committed to parish services (formation, chaplains and family life); 24 percent to Catholic schools; 19 percent for apostolates, vocations and outreach; 12 percent for Catholic Charities and social justice; 11 percent for religious education; and 11 percent for parish sharing and Cathedral support.

The video presentation is broken down into four segments including vocation promotion, parish sharing, Catholic Charities and a rationale for giving.

The vocations promotion section features the Syracuse Diocese’s new Director of Vocations Promotion Father Joe O’Connor as well as seminarian Chris Ballard who volunteers at the Catholic Charities Food Pantry of Broome County in Binghamton. In addition, Father Kevin Corcoran, the pastor at St. Agatha’s Church in Canastota, and Sister Joan Corcoran, DC, are also featured throughout the presentation. Father Corcoran and Sister Joan are brother and sister.

Both Father Corcoran and Sister Joan attended Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School and they remain enthusiastic supporters of Catholic education, which HOPE Appeal supports.

“Catholic schools and religious education are key because the children are our future and if we are to teach them the faith values that Kevin and I have, they will hopefully carry their faith throughout their life,” said Sister Joan, who is the director of parish outreach at Historic Old St. John’s Church in Utica.

A HOPE Appeal surplus can also help benefit one’s home parish. St. Mary’s in Baldwinsville, for instance, used the overage money from its HOPE Appeal campaign to finance the purchase of a bus, which it uses to help seniors attend church functions.

Holy Cross Church in DeWitt used its surplus for a variety of purposes.

“Every parish has unique needs,” Msgr. Robert Yeazel, the pastor of Holy Cross, said in the video.

The video concludes with a unique segment featuring Arthur Brooks, a Louis A. Bantle Chair in Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Brooks noted that contributing to the HOPE Appeal is not only a benefit for recipients of charity, but also for the donor.

“The HOPE Appeal is a great a opportunity for Catholics to experience what people have found in research and in their own experience, a greater happiness, better health and even more prosperity,” said Brooks, who is a parishioner at Holy Cross. “There’s a lot of exciting research that links prosperity and the joy that people experience in the giving that they undertook.”

Msgr. Yeazel added a few words in support of  Brooks’ account.

“I think God built in each of us a desire to give and to be generous and as soon as we do that we can also be closer to the Lord,” Msgr. Yeazel said.

“We create joy in our own hearts when we give to others,” Bishop Moynihan said in the video’s conclusion.

The DVD is available in each parish throughout the diocese. Those wishing to donate should either see their pastor or contact the HOPE Appeal office directly at (315) 472-0203.

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