Volunteers at Our Lady of the Mountains Church in Stanton prepare the annual Thanksgiving Meal.
Senior citizens enjoy Thanksgiving at Our Lady of the Mountains in Stanton. The church invites all senior citizens in Powell County to join them for this annual feast.
Annie, director of Catholic Charities' Lasting Change program and Tammy, a Lasting Change graduate and peer mentor, presented a Breakout Session about financial literacy at Catholic Charities USA 2013 "Partners in Excellence" conference.
With a goal of $1.3 million to be raised the DAA has brought in almost $900,000 as of mid-September. During the final few months of the campaign, the appeal will need to raise another $125,000 to ensure that funding is available to support the church’s social mission, as well as provide critical support for rural parishes and schools.
“The Diocesan Annual Appeal (DAA) is a visible expression of our unity as the Body of Christ. Each donation to the Annual Appeal is a sign that we believe in the Gospel message to ‘love one another as I have loved you’. It demonstrates that we believe that whatever you do to others, you do to Jesus,” said Diocesan Administrator Father Bob Nieberding.
The Diocesan Annual Appeal raises money for both ministry and mission. The Appeal funds are crucial to support diocesan-wide ministries and programs, to ensure the formation of a new generation of priests and permanent deacons, to sustain parishes and missions in remote parts of the diocese, to educate students in our Catholic schools and to provide for charitable outreach in Eastern and Central Kentucky.
Close to 40 of the parishes and missions of parishes in our Diocese cannot pay for their operational and salary expenses from their offertory collections and fundraisers. These parishes are in rural counties where there are few Catholics, and the number of parish members is very small. In addition, these counties have high levels of unemployment and poverty. “While they are a tiny minority – sometimes less than 1% of the population – the Catholics in these communities provide an incredible amount of charitable outreach and civic engagement, far beyond what their numbers would indicate. By helping maintain an active and highly visible Catholic presence in these counties, all of us support these saving ministries and contribute to the Church’s evangelization efforts,” Nieberding said.
Our Lady of the Mountains in Stanton is a good example of this. A small community of less than 40 households, the parish is an important source of support for families in Powell County. Parish Life Director Sister Mary Jane Kreidler reports that 3,000 people were served in their outreach ministries last year, including the annual Thanksgiving dinner for senior citizens, a “Moms in the Morning” program to promote healthy meals for families who struggle to make ends meet, and the annual Back-to-School celebration to distribute socks and underwear for children in need. Sister Mary Jane feels that their outreach is an expression of our Christian call to action. “In July a family donated gently-used shoes to our socks and underwear program. The children were very interested in the shoes and each hoped to find a pair they could wear. One little girl was really upset because her size did not seem to be there. One of the volunteers came along and helped her find her own special pair. While we tend to the material needs of people, we are about meeting the individual. We are about the sparkle in a little girl’s eyes because finding a pair of shoes makes her feel special.”
Catholic Charities receives nearly one-half of its operating revenue from the Annual Appeal. “Support from appeal donors helps families who are trying to improve themselves,” said Agency Director Ruslyn Case-Compton. Lasting Change graduate Tammy is an excellent example.
When she called Catholic Charities’ Rental Assistance line in January 2012, Tammy was facing eviction and was scared to death. Her minimum-wage job wasn’t generating enough income for her to consistently pay all her bills, and when she had to miss a shift to stay home with a sick child, it all fell apart. During her intake interview, she expressed a desire to end her paycheck-to-paycheck existence. When staff invited her to attend a financial literacy course, she leaped at the chance, graduating from the 6-week program the following spring. When her car broke down last year, Tammy, called Catholic Charities and staff helped her registered for Goodwill’s Cars to Work program. Through this program she was able to purchase an affordable used vehicle, and, after making every payment on time, she improved her credit score, applying a lesson learned in our financial literacy course! Also in 2013, she attended the agency’s Suit Up! career fair and found a better paying job. This year she completed United Way's Back on Track for homeownership program and has just moved into her first home. “Tammy is grateful for the support and encouragement she received from Catholic Charities,” Case-Compton said. “The agency is grateful to the generous Appeal donors who made it possible.”
Parishes which make their DAA goal will be refunded 10% of that goal, plus 50% of any amount raised over the goal. This non-assessable money can be used to fund parish programs and projects. As of the end of August eleven parishes had met their DAA goal: Good Shepherd (Campton), Holy Cross (Jackson), Holy Family (Booneville), Holy Trinity (Harlan), Queen of All Saints (Beattyville), St. Jude (Louisa), St. Julie (Owingsville), St. Michael (Paintsville), St. Luke (Salyersville), St. Peter (Monticello), and Sts. John and Elizabeth (Grayson). These parishes will be refunded a combined total of almost $10,000.
“I am so thankful for the prayers and generous support of our Annual Appeal donors,” Nieberding said.
Annual Appeal pledges and donations may be made until December 31. Donors have until April 30, 2015, to fulfill their pledge. Pledge payments and contributions can be made through a donor’s home parish, or online through their parish or the diocesan website. When making a donation remember; gifts are to the Appeal are building faith, inspiring hope, and sharing the Good News throughout our Diocese!