Story by Reagan Scott
(SNR) — Every year the Charity and Stewardship Appeal gives members of the Lincoln Diocese a chance to give back to their parishes and support vital diocesan ministries. This year’s appeal will kick off the weekend of May 4-5.
Established by Bishop Glennon P. Flavin in 1971, the Charity and Stewardship Appeal, as it was re-named by Bishop Emeritus Fabian Bruskewitz, has a long history of providing for parishes, Catholic schools and diocesan programs.
The theme of this year’s appeal is “Cast Your Nets.” In a video about the appeal, Bishop James Conley said, “As a diocese we are called to cast the net of evangelization, of outreach to the suffering and of Catholic education.”
The goal of this year’s appeal is $2.1 million. Of that amount, 61 percent, or $1,407,000 will be returned to parishes. The rest will be split between programs in four other categories: “Proclaiming God’s Word,” Works of Mercy, diocesan ministries and administrative costs for the appeal.
Each parish is given an individual goal for the appeal. For parishes supporting one Catholic school, 40 percent of their parish goal is returned, while 80 percent is returned to parishes supporting two Catholic schools. One hundred percent of the money raised over the parish goal is returned directly to the parish.
More than $3.1 million was pledged in last year’s appeal, and $695,000 went to diocesan services. The other 78 percent of funds raised were returned to parishes. Over the past five years, $10.9 million has been returned to parishes.
Last year St. Michael Parish in Lincoln had a goal to raise $14,372 and parishioners pledged over $200,000.
Father Kenneth Borowiak, the pastor at St. Michael, was involved in the Charity and Stewardship Appeal for 23 years and knows first-hand the real benefits that have come from it. For this reason, he said, the parish had many in-house promotional efforts such as a letter to parishioners, and prayer cards.
“One has to know their local parishes’ needs and wants and tailor their message to that,” Father Borowiak said.
St. Michael Parish is going to build a church, and using that information, Father Borowiak was able to use this message to share the benefits the appeal has on the diocese, while also stressing the fact that so much of the money would come back to the parish and could be used for the goal of building their church.
“An annual appeal allows all parishes to contribute to a common cause,” Father Borowiak said.
A new addition to the appeal in 2016 was a category for youth ministry, which received almost $47,000 last year.
“Our young people loved being involved in the faith, and we really want them to own their faith,” Father Borowiak said. “Establishing a base for young people to be involved in their faith is invaluable.”
Another parish that did well last year was Immaculate Conception Parish in Rulo. The original goal for the small parish was $410, but the approximately 23 families in the parish pledged $6,330. Father David Oldham described his parish as tight-knit and energetic.
“They believe in supporting the parish and in working hard to keep it going,” he said.
Father Oldham also stressed the fact that giving to the appeal does much to help the diocese, and those whom the diocese serves, while helping parishes at the same time.
Donations to the Charity and Stewardship Appeal can be made through the pledge cards handed out at each parish, or online at https://lincolndiocese.aware3.net/give/.
“The success of the appeal is indicative of the success of the local church,” Father Borowiak said. “We have to get behind it and support it.”