16,000 donors step forward, many online, in support of the Diocese of Fall River
FALL RIVER– Conducted during an unprecedented time, the 79th Annual Catholic Appeal, “See All the People,” has come to a close. During this year’s Appeal the Diocese of Fall River navigated numerous challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a testament to the strong support by the Diocesan faithful, more than $3.5 million in gifts and pledges were raised to sustain the Appeal’s longstanding mission of serving those in greatest need.
This year, 16,000 donors stepped forward with a gift or pledge to the annual Appeal. While fewer than the number of donors to last year’s Appeal, the average gift amount increased by 10%, an indication that many who were able to contribute did so at a higher level than they had in the past. Efforts made to encourage online giving this year were very successful. In 2019, less than 5% of gifts and pledges to the Appeal were made online. This year, the number of donors logging on to pledge more than doubled to 12%, as a growing number turned to a safe, secure, and easy way to lend support while quarantining or limiting time away from home.
On a parish level, there were 17 parishes that surpassed their 2019 fundraising total: a doubly impressive achievement during an extraordinarily challenging time. “I was pleasantly surprised and greatly humbled at the immense generosity of the parishioners of Santo Christo to this year’s Catholic Appeal during this most unusual of times,” said Father Jeffrey Cabral, J.C.L., pastor of Santo Christo parish in Fall River. “Not only did I remind them that we not only support the needy, hungry and homeless of our diocese, but many of us have already benefited from the many diocesan agencies and ministries supported by the Appeal, such as visits from hospital chaplains, the television Mass and the formation of our seminarians. Of course, many parishioners generously contributed knowing of the new incentive program, promising them that it would be applied to our continuing Church Restoration Fund.”
“I think the response to this year’s appeal, in the midst of a difficult time for so many people, simply shows how the faithful understand what true Christian charity means: giving not just from our excess, but even when it can be a sacrifice,” said Father Riley J. Williams, pastor of St. Francis Xavier parish in Acushnet. “The needs of the neediest are greater now than they have been for a long time, and the generosity shown to this year’s Appeal will help in so many ways.”
The launch of the 2020 Appeal was delayed by one month, taking place during June and July to provide added time for the Diocese to work toward the reopening of its churches. The operational aspects of the Appeal were centralized and managed by The Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, which conducted the mailings, video series, and an email campaign to promote the Appeal while many were sheltering at home.
“Reaching people who could not attend Mass in person was critical for this year’s Appeal,” said Miriam Finn Sherman, Chief Executive Officer of the Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts. “The team at the Catholic Foundation worked to bring the message of the Appeal directly to parishioners in a concerted effort to inspire support at a time when people were participating in their faith lives from the safety of home.”
The challenges presented by the coronavirus had a direct impact on fundraising this year, and in response the Catholic Foundation is planning continued efforts to raise additional funds in support of the Appeal and its mission in the fall.
“The demand for the programs and services the Appeal upholds is greater than it has ever been in its nearly 80-year history,” said Rebecca Hancock, Director of Annual Giving and Stewardship at the Catholic Foundation. “We are so grateful for the kindness and outpouring of support from our parishioners and friends during this time. We want everyone to know we welcome their support at any time of year to ensure we can fulfill our promise to feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, visit the sick, and protect our most vulnerable.”
“I am grateful each year for our pastors, parishioners, and friends who support the good works of our Diocese through the Catholic Appeal,” said Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. “But this year, I am especially touched by the generosity our faithful have shown. The impact of these gifts will make a difference for thousands on the front lines of this pandemic. I am grateful to the staff of our Foundation for their hard work, dedication and creativity to make this year’s Appeal a great success, despite the unique challenges we faced. I pray as a diocese we continue to live the words of the Gospel of John: ‘Let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.’”
The need for support of the many agencies, ministries, and programs of the Diocese of Fall River, and the demand for them, remains strong. The Catholic Foundation encourages the faithful to show their support of our brothers and sisters in need throughout the year. Donations can be made online at givefrdiocese.org/2020 or mailed to the Catholic Appeal office at 450 Highland Ave., Fall River, MA 02720. They may also continue to be dropped off at any parish in the Diocese.
To see the most recent Catholic Appeal statement of revenue and expenditures for fiscal year 2020, which ran from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, please visit: www.catholicfoundationsema.org/2019-revenue-and-expenditures.