Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Annual Catholic Appeal 2005:
‘Together We Are the Body of Christ’

by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff

(From the Feb. 3, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

TOgether We Are the Body of Christ Each year, Bishop Skylstad invites every individual and family in the Diocese of Spokane to be a part of the ministry of the diocese. This can mean volunteering in a parish, supporting the Catholic School system, attending a retreat, or offering prayers for the success of the ministry of the Church in Eastern Washington. It also means offering financial support to the Diocese of Spokane so that established programs can continue to minister to the parishes and individuals of Eastern Washington.

The Appeal launches in parishes this year on the weekend of Feb. 5/6. Feb. 12/13 marks “Commitment Sunday,” when parishioners are asked to make a pledge to the 2005 Annual Catholic Appeal.

This year’s goal is $2 million.

Each gift to the ACA has a direct impact because it helps Bishop Skylstad to shape the diocese into a vibrant, growing testament to God’s love. The generous support of each person in the diocese is absolutely essential if the diocese is to continue offering its programs and services to the parishes and individuals who make up the Church in Eastern Washington.

The ACA funds a variety of programs that could not exist without the support of the ACA, programs and services of a wider scope than could be offered by any individual parish.

Diocesan-wide youth ministry events depend on the organization of the Youth Ministry Consultant, Paul Mach. He plans and arranges a variety of events that include leadership camps and junior high and high school retreats. He also acts as the liaison between parish youth ministers and the diocese.

The Marriage Tribunal assists people as they search for healing through the annulment process. That office depends on the ACA for much of its funding.

The Education Office supports the Catholic schools throughout the diocese. They offer training programs for staff and volunteers, hire administrators, provide materials and support for Catholic school events and act as the connecting force between the Catholic schools throughout the diocese.

The Newman centers at Washington State University and Eastern Washington University provide Catholic campus ministry in the secular university environment and also depend on ACA for much of their funding.

The ACA also funds the maintenance of the Catholic pastoral center and the salaries of the people who work for the diocese. The Fiscal Services Office assists the bishop in his stewardship of diocesan resources, with careful, professional tracking of diocesan finances.

The Catholic Pastoral Center provides computer technical support and consultation to parishes and other groups. Mary Green, the diocese’s Director of Computer Technology, also designs and maintains much of the diocese’s web site.

The Communications Office also coordinates information, through the Inland Register, the diocesan web site, press relations, and other outreach efforts.

Training and formation for ministry is assisted by funding from the ACA. For instance, this June, eight men will be ordained deacons. A second Spanish-language formation track is in progress for the southern portion of the diocese. The deacon formation program is funded in large part by the diocese, with financial support from the Annual Catholic Appeal. Generosity to the Appeal makes thorough deacon formation possible, said Deacon John Sicilia, Director of Deacons for the diocese.

“The funding for the formation program is made possible primarily from the funds collected through the ACA,” he said. That generosity “allows the bishop to continue the many ministries of the diocese,” said Deacon Sicilia.

Catholics are called by Christ to share of their time, treasure and talent. The Church needs the assistance of the entire Body of Christ in order to carry out its mission.

Each individual is encouraged to prayerfully reflect upon a gift that is in proportion to their God-given resources. Several stewardship models of giving suggest that each individual share five percent of their annual income with their parish, one percent with the diocese and four percent with other charitable causes. Of course, though 10 percent is a traditional percentage for tithing, Catholics are under no obligation to give that exact amount. They may give more or less, depending on their economic situation.

This year the ACA is particularly important. It will provide more than 50 percent of the funds necessary to pay for the programs and services offered to parishes and individuals throughout Eastern Washington.

The diocese filed for Chapter 11 Reorganization on Dec. 6, 2004. Because of the filing, the future financial situation of the diocese is somewhat unclear. Bishop Skylstad has repeatedly stated his commitment to good stewardship of diocesan resources, with integrity and transparency.

“With the help of every individual in the diocese, we can join together as a Church family and move toward resolution of this situation and emerge to continue our vital ministry to the people of Eastern Washington,” said Bishop Skylstad.

The ACA works through the assistance and cooperation of every parish in the diocese. Goals are established for every parish community. The goals represent the parish’s fair share of supporting the continued ministry of the diocesan offices. When the members of a parish make their pledge to the ACA, whether the envelope is placed into the collection basket at Mass or mailed directly to the Appeal Office, that pledge is counted toward the goal set for the parish. Each pledge that is recorded brings the parish community closer to reaching the goal and, in turn, helps the Diocese of Spokane reach the goal for the ACA.

The Appeals Office mailed out packets to each registered Catholic in the diocese this week. The packet includes a letter from the Bishop, a brochure about the ACA and a return envelope that can either be dropped into the parish collection basket or mailed back to the Appeal Office. Materials can also be picked up at each parish, or by contacting the Appeals Office at (509) 358-4280. Please remember to bring your appeal gift to Mass on Feb. 9 or 10, or mail it to the Appeal office.

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