By Katherine Long | Editor

In December of 1977, Bishop Frank J. Harrison sent a letter to his brother priests in the Diocese of Syracuse, announcing a new initiative to fund the myriad critical services provided by the local Church.

“The message we want to bring to the people is simply this,” he wrote, “together we are the Church and these are our needs: To help our poor, to assist our disadvantaged, to care for our sick and our elderly, to instruct our children.”

The first annual HOPE Appeal launched the following April, raising more than $1 million to support the local Church and its ministries.

Forty years later, the HOPE Appeal continues to support vital work and provide needed aid to thousands of people across the diocese’s seven counties.

The faithful responded generously to the 2017 appeal, according to figures provided by HOPE Appeal Manager Mary Kay Musyt: Gifts and pledges from 23,769 donors totaled $4.77 million, topping the campaign’s goal of $4.75 million.

“The generosity of the people of the diocese is amazing,” Musyt said. “Given the challenges of today’s economic climate and the many requests for support they receive, the fact that they to continue to give to the HOPE Appeal is a testament to their faith and their commitment to the Church.”

The 2018 appeal officially kicks off in May with a goal set at $4.7 million. Themed “Year of the Family, Year of Hope,” the campaign’s tagline underscores the bond shared by brothers and sisters in Christ: “As family, we are called to serve each other, our Church, our community.”

The theme builds on the Year of the Family declared by Bishop Robert J. Cunningham in December 2017. “HOPE Appeal-supported programs serve families at every stage — from birth to eternal life. It’s important that we as Church support families as they grow together,” Musyt said.

“Not only do we pass on our faith traditions in our families, we also learn to give from a young age,” Musyt added. “We see that at Mass every Sunday, and we learn to look beyond our own needs and focus on others.”

Materials for the campaign share the stories of just some of the many families who have benefited personally from HOPE Appeal-supported ministries.

The Bond family of Oswego includes five children, all of whom are enrolled at Trinity Catholic School. “We couldn’t do it without the support and help of the school and the HOPE Appeal,” says mother Laura Bond, a product of Catholic education herself. “We definitely sacrifice, but it’s worth it to us to provide a Catholic school education for our children.”

New mother Mikayla White shares how the Lullaby League, a four-week infant care class offered by Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, supports women, their partners, and their families. “It’s really important that you have a class like this. They help you prepare and get ready for your child. It helps a lot,” White said.

Jo Oliva reflects on the gift of the chaplain who ministered to her and her family while she was in the hospital. “I don’t know what my family would have done without the hospital chaplain when I was in ICU,” she says. “He was there for them and for me. He came to see me every day and prayed with me. It was like a visit by a friend.”

“There are stories like these all across the diocese, and this is just a small sampling of them,” Musyt said. “These stories could be anyone’s stories — your neighbor, your loved one, you. Your donations make it possible for someone to put food on the table, find hope in sickness, receive an education.”

Materials on the 2018 HOPE Appeal will be sent to parishioners’ homes the week of May 6, and the campaign will officially kick off in parishes the weekend of May 19 and 20. The campaign will conclude November 30.

For more information, contact Mary Kay Musyt, Manager of the HOPE Appeal and Stewardship, at (315) 472-8447 or


Fundraising is a family affair for new HOPE Appeal manager

Mary Kay Musyt came on board as the diocese’s HOPE Appeal and Stewardship Manager in May 2017, and within her first few months on the job she was out speaking at parishes about the annual campaign.

“As I was preparing my remarks, my grandmother told me that my late grandfather had been a representative for the bishop’s appeal in the Diocese of Scranton,” Musyt recalled.

“He would go door-to-door, encouraging people to give what they could. And if they couldn’t give, he would ask them to say a prayer for the success of the campaign,” she said.

He was a successful fundraiser, Musyt said, and she thinks he would be proud of the work she’s doing in Syracuse. “I was talking to him in my head the whole time I was writing my remarks,” she said with a smile.

Musyt has served in development roles for numerous faith-based and secular organizations. Her previous experience includes service as the Special Events and Development Manager for Catholic Charities of Onondaga County; the Development Assistant at Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt; Development Coordinator at the Provincial Offices of the Order of Saint Augustine (the Augustinian friars) in Villanova, Pa.; and communications manager and campaign associate director for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Musyt is looking forward to spearheading the upcoming HOPE Appeal campaign, which launches in May.

“I’m proud to carry on the great work that has been done for 40 years and to bring new energy for the years to come,” she said.

For more information on the HOPE Appeal, Mary Kay Musyt, Manager of the HOPE Appeal and Stewardship, can be reached at (315) 472-8447 or

Editor’s note: The Catholic Sun is a HOPE Appeal-supported ministry. We thank you for your support!

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