FALL RIVER—The 81st Annual Catholic Appeal of the Diocese of Fall River officially kicks off on Sunday, May 1 and runs through June 30. Since it first launched in 1942, the annual Appeal has delivered critical resources to uphold the vitally important agencies and ministries of the diocese. The 81st Annual Catholic Appeal – “Journeying Together in Faith and Love” – takes place as the Diocese and the worldwide Church journey through a multi-year synodal process announced by Pope Francis. The year’s theme considers how we members of the Church are walking down a common road with all our brothers and sisters by bringing the tenets of the synod together with the good works made possible through our collective support for the Appeal.
Annual gifts and pledges to the Catholic Appeal support all the agencies, programs, and ministries of the diocese, providing food and shelter, educating children and adults, and meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of tens of thousands of individuals and families. The diocese spans from Mansfield, Easton and the Attleboro’s, through the Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford areas, and extends all the way to Cape Cod and the Islands.
In a message to the faithful of the Diocese of Fall River, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. stated,
“This year’s theme, ‘Journeying Together in Faith and Love,’ inspires us to bring to life the words found in the Gospel of Matthew: ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:43-44). This may be one of the most difficult things Christ asks of us, but it is also the most important for us as Catholics: to love every person solely because they are children of God, not because of anything they do, have, or profess.
“Through the synod, Pope Francis is inviting us to take the lead in listening, learning, and loving while building Christ’s kingdom here in the Diocese of Fall River. Just like Jesus, we need to be aware of those around us, to extend an invitation, and be a welcoming community. We are a people meant to walk together with one another and show love to all humanity. Support of the Catholic Appeal is one way to fulfill this promise.”
The Catholic Appeal supports the work of Catholic Social Services (CSS), which serves and ministers to nearly 40,000 individuals throughout the Diocese of Fall River each year. CSS offers assistance with basic and emergency needs and provides housing to women, men, children, and families who have been displaced due to numerous social and economic situations.
CSS also provides much-needed sustenance to those suffering from food insecurity in the Diocese. In 2021, gifts to the Appeal helped the Solanus Casey Food Pantry in New Bedford serve over 15,000 households (over 38,000 individuals): a more than 80% increase from pre-pandemic levels. Last year, the food pantry distributed approximately 234 tons of food – almost 9,000 pounds of food per week.
The Catholic Appeal also funds the work of hospital chaplains and care for residents of Diocesan health facilities, the weekly Television Mass, support for our retired priests and seminarians, programs for youth and families, the Pro-Life apostolate, scholarship aid and tuition abatement for our Catholic schools, and much more.
The 2021 Catholic Appeal raised $4.6 million through the generosity of 18,000 donors to sustain these important programs and ministries. This year’s Catholic Appeal goal is $4.8 million to ensure the Diocese can continue its mission of bringing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to life.
Continuing as an added incentive this year, .50 of every dollar raised over a parish’s fundraising goal will be returned to the parish for its use. Last year, 24 parishes – approximately one-third of the total number of parishes in the Diocese – qualified for and received an incentive reward.
Additional information on this year’s Catholic Appeal is available on its website: www.catholicfoundationsema.org/catholic-appeal-2022, including a video message featuring Bishop da Cunha and a summary of how the funds raised through the 2021 Catholic Appeal were distributed across the various ministries and programs it supports.
During a time of extraordinary challenges, when so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing great need, support of the annual Catholic Appeal makes a tremendous difference throughout the Diocese. Contributions to the Appeal may be made either through a one-time donation or through monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual pledges. Donations may be mailed to the Catholic Appeal office, 450 Highland Ave., Fall River, MA 02720, made online at www.GiveFRDiocese.org, or dropped off at any parish in the diocese. Please contact the Catholic Appeal office at 508-675-1311 with any questions.