FALL RIVER — With this year’s theme of “Whatsoever you do,” drawn from the Gospel of Matthew 25, the annual Catholic Charities Appeal of the Fall River Diocese begins in May with an invitation to prospective donors to consider their own response to the call to serve those in need.
Proceeds from the springtime fundraising campaign, this year marking 76 years, provide the funding for the charitable services and programs sponsored by the Fall River Diocese throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands. The Appeal will take place from May 1 through June 28.
“Our Holy Father, Pope Francis continuously implores us to take seriously our responsibility to the poor,” writes Fall River Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., in a letter on the Appeal. “We as a Church are called to reflect on the many ways we give witness to that responsibility.”
Through the Catholic Charities Appeal, the Fall River Diocese is able to respond to those who are poor, whether the need be material or spiritual. The Appeal, for example, supports Catholic Social Services’ myriad programs and outreach: emergency shelters, transitional and permanent supportive housing, basic needs assistance, food pantries and vouchers, adoption services, advocacy programs for persons with disabilities and for immigrants, and counseling among them.
Other services and ministries financed by the Catholic Charities Appeal include hospital chaplaincy, campus ministry, marriage preparation, programs for the bereaved, retreats and programs for youth like CYO and Scouting, the Television Mass and more.
Bishop da Cunha points out that the Catholic Charities Appeal has a “proud legacy of service and dedication” to those who are in need of assistance in the Diocese, and adds that this year the Appeal will also help fund the cost of care for retired and disabled diocesan clergy.
“Whether they are the retired Clergy, the homeless, the elderly, the sick and infirmed, the emotionally troubled, or simply a poor family in need of food, clothing or shelter, they are the focus of the services funded by the Appeal,” the Bishop said. I invite you to join with me and others who are answering the call to ‘Whatsoever you do…’”
Diocesan Development Director James A. Campbell explained that this year’s Appeal theme derives from the call to service as expressed in the Gospel of Matthew 25, and that it was warmly received at the recent Appeal kick off meetings.
“People have responded to the Bishop’s call to frame their giving as a natural extension of their faith,” he said. “There was also strong support to include the care of our retired priests as an element in the Appeal. The appreciation of the laity for our elder priests is genuine and deep.”
The Catholic Charities Appeal is the one and only time during the year when the Fall River Diocese asks for financial help to fund its charitable agencies and programs, which are open to anyone regardless of creed, race, nationality, gender or economic status. It maintains a low administrative expense ratio: 94 cents of every dollar contributed is directed to the services and programs funded by the Appeal, according to Campbell.
The 2016 Catholic Charities Appeal raised a record $4.6 million.
Additional information on this year’s Catholic Charities Appeal is available on its website at www.frdioc-catholiccharities.org, including video testimonies from those who have been helped by Appeal-funded services, an audio message from Bishop da Cunha, and a statement of revenue and expenditures from the 2016 Appeal.
Contributions to the Catholic Charities Appeal may be made either through a one-time donation or through a pledge payable over ten months. Donations may be dropped off at any parish in the diocese, made through its website, or mailed to the Catholic Charities Appeal Office, P.O. Box 1470, Fall River, MA 02722.