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July 19, 2009

Donors still generous to Annual Catholic Appeal

By Michelle Martin


Despite growing unemployment and continuing bad economic news, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago are still giving to the Annual Catholic Appeal.

The 2009 appeal, which began in January and runs through the end of December, had garnered $14.7 million in pledges through July 1, the same amount pledged by July 1 last year. At the same time, $11.3 million had been collected, said Barbara Shea Collins, director of development services.

That’s about $200,000 more than had been collected by July 2008.

“We’re just very thankful that people are continuing to give in these difficult times,” said Collins, who acknowledged that development staff were concerned that donations would slip last fall when the economy headed south.

In fact, the appeal took in about $14.7 million in 2008, up about $900,000 from the year before.

The response to the appeal is a clear demonstration of Catholics’ determination to live their faith by reaching out to others, Collins said, adding that people took to heart what Cardinal George said in a homily played in all parishes last winter, when the appeal kicked off.

“In these difficult days of great economic uncertainty, when so many have lost so much, we can each retire to our private concerns or we can enlarge our community to include others who are also in need,” the cardinal said in his homily. “Hard times can isolate, like leprosy in Jesus’ day, or they can bring us together to bring glory to God.”

The largest share of the money collected by the appeal goes to grants and scholarships for schools serving economically disadvantaged communities and capital grants to parishes and schools in needy communities.

Money from the appeal also pays to train catechists for parish religious-education programs; for education and formation of lay ministers, deacons and priests; to help fund Catholic Relief Services, which offers development aid and emergency help around the world; and to ministries that provide comfort, care and counseling to people in need and promote the dignity of life from conception through natural death.

In addition, parishes that generate more donations than their target receive the difference as a rebate to use for their own purposes, and other parishes have money applied to reduce their debts.

While the appeal is on track for this year, Collins noted that parishioners are welcome to continue making donations. (To donate visit or call (312) 534-7944.)

“We usually receive about a million dollars in the last few months of the year, and last September or October, we didn’t know whether that would happen,” Collins said, noting that many end-of-the-year gifts come from large donors who time their gifts to minimize tax obligations. “What we saw, with stocks being worth less, was that we didn’t get so many gifts of stock because people gave cash instead.”