FALL RIVER — The 79th Annual Catholic Appeal is kicking off during an extraordinary year for the Diocese of Fall River and the world. For nearly eight decades, the Appeal has delivered critical resources to uphold the vitally important agencies and ministries of the diocese. This year, the Appeal is launching in a time of stunning and unprecedented need brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s Catholic Appeal runs from June 1 through July 31. The Appeal’s start date was postponed by one month due to the need to address the pressing and immediate challenges presented by the coronavirus.

Formerly called the “Catholic Charities Appeal,” the Appeal’s name has been updated to the “Catholic Appeal” to reflect the full scope of all the agencies, programs, and ministries it supports, providing food and shelter, educating children and adults, and meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of tens of thousands of individuals and families in the Diocese of Fall River. 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,

“As a diocese and a society, it feels as though we have been navigating through a terrible storm for the past few months. The coronavirus has transformed our lives in unprecedented ways, including spiritual sacrifices that have kept us from gathering with our beloved parish and collaborative communities. A storm like this, however, also shows how our acts of compassion and generosity bring Christ’s message to light, even in the darkest times. Your support of the Catholic Appeal assists people in all phases of life and upholds the numerous agencies, programs, and ministries meeting the needs of countless individuals and families in the Diocese of Fall River.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has given us a glimpse of what life is like for our sick, homebound, and homeless neighbors who lack regular access to the full sacramental life of the Church. It has robbed households of the dignity of stable employment. We have had the opportunity to understand firsthand the importance of the weekly Television Mass, food pantries and soup kitchens, emergency housing and homeless shelters, and the tireless work of our hospital chaplains. Your contribution will allow these and all the good works of the diocese to continue at a time when we need them so desperately. Together, we can care for those who are most vulnerable in their hour of greatest need, and emerge from this storm – which I hope will end soon – stronger than ever.”

Services and ministries sustained by the Catholic Appeal include Catholic Social Services (CSS), which is currently working ‘round-the-clock to provide essential services and programs, prioritizing the immediate needs of the homeless, sheltered, and those with food insecurity. During this crisis, CSS is focusing its efforts on providing shelters to individuals and families, offering sustenance through its food pantry and soup kitchen, and ensuring families in need have access to basic needs including diapers, food, cleaning supplies, and activities.

The Catholic Appeal also funds the work of our hospital chaplains, the weekly Television Mass, support for our retired priests and seminarians, campus ministry at area colleges, the Diocesan Office of Faith Formation, and the Diocesan Office of Pro-Life.

As an added incentive this year, parishes and collaboratives will receive .50 on every dollar raised when they surpass a 5% increase over what they raised during last year’s Appeal. Not only will this provide additional funds for those most in need, it is also an opportunity to assist our parishes at this critical time.

Additional information on this year’s Catholic Appeal is available on its website:  www.catholicfoundationsema.org/catholic-appeal-2020/ including a video message from Bishop da Cunha and a summary of how the $4.1 million raised through the 2019 Catholic Appeal have been distributed across the various ministries and programs it supports. Please check back in the days ahead as new content will be added, including a series of video testimonials and inspiring stories about those who have been helped by Appeal-funded services.

Contributions to the Catholic 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/2020, or dropped off at any parish in the diocese. Please contact the Catholic Appeal office at 508-675-1311 with any questions.

Reverendísimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
Reverendísimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Bishop of Fall River