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

Common Questions about the 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal
‘Together … We Can Do It Again’

by Bishop William S. Skylstad

(From the Feb. 8, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

Q. What is the Annual Catholic Appeal?
Each year I ask the faithful in every parish to collaborate with me in supporting the mission of the Catholic Church throughout the Diocese of Spokane. The Annual Catholic Appeal is one of four diocese-wide annual collections for which I seek your support. The other collections are: Church in the United States; Catholic Charities Christmas Collection; and Mission of the Church in the World. The work of the Church does not happen in the abstract. It takes money to “make Church happen,” just as it takes money in our homes to “make family happen.”

Q. How is the ACA goal set for each parish?
The financial pressures which every parish in our Diocese experiences are of real concern to me. Finances are limited for all of us. Over the years, pastors have identified 20 percent of a parish’s annual income (computed as Sunday/Holy Day collection envelopes and plate totals) as a reasonable portion of the Annual Catholic Appeal for their parishes. This figure is not a tax levied on the parish. Nevertheless, it is a serious campaign goal. Pastors and parishioners are expected to do everything possible to achieve their parish goal.

Q. What is funded by the Annual Catholic Appeal?
People often comment to me, “Church happens primarily in the parishes.” In a sense, that is profoundly true. At the same time, a broader understanding of being Catholic extends the mission of the Church beyond the needs of the local parish. As Catholics we form a diocese-wide community of faith, which fosters together the mission of Jesus Christ. We Catholics know that we “belong” to more than just a home parish; we also participate in the life of the Diocese. When we Catholics refer to “the diocese,” we refer to both its ministries and the (sometimes dry and tedious) business aspects of administering to a community of more than 95,000 Catholics throughout 13 counties in Eastern Washington State. Each year the Annual Catholic Appeal funds the administrative costs and ministerial services which are needed to operate the Diocese. Here is one way of breaking down those costs for the 2007-2008 Diocesan budget:

Priest Retirement: $635,000 | 25.64 percent
Seminary/Education of Seminarians: $550,000 | 22.20 percent
Business Administration/Accounting Services: $300,000 | 12.1 percent
Evangelization/Catholic Schools/Religious Education: $255,000 | 10.29 percent
Bishop’s Ministries: $183,000 | 7.39 percent
Development Efforts: $155,000 | 6.26 percent
Utilities/Building-Property Maintenance: $151,000 | 6.1 percent
Inland Register/Communications Services: $146,000 | 5.89 percent
Newman Centers (WSU/EWU) Subsidies: $30,000 | 1.2 percent
Clergy Support/Continuing Education $26,000 | 1.08 percent
Indian Missions Support: $25,000 | 1 percent

Q. How successful was last year’s Annual Catholic Appeal?
I am most grateful to the faithful throughout our Diocese for their generosity and faithfulness in responding to last year’s ACA. The theme, “If not you…then who?” proved to be right on target as we struggled together to meet a most critical element of our diocesan finances. Together…we can do it again! In fact, we must do it again to assure the positive and life-giving presence of the Catholic Church in the cities and towns throughout Eastern Washington. The ministerial life of our Diocese always has depended upon the generous financial support of the faithful. Given the current situation of the Diocese, your financial support continues to be critical.

Q. What is the relationship between the Annual Catholic Appeal and the Diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy efforts?
There is no direct relationship. The Annual Catholic Appeal is necessary for the funding of the on-going ministries and administrative operations of the Diocese. Those needs remain. The 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal funds only next year’s Diocesan operational budget (2007-2008). A separate fund-raising effort will take place later this year to fund the parishes’ share of the Chapter 11 settlement.

Q. Will pledges made to this Appeal be safe from lawsuit and payment of attorney fees?
Similar to last year’s ACA campaign, this year’s ACA pledge card makes provision for donors to restrict their contributions from use in the Diocese’s Chapter 11 litigation. This request will be respected. Funds so designated will be restricted to those Diocesan offices and programs identified in the ACA literature.

Q. Is there special urgency to this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal?
Yes, even before the decision was made to endure the anticipated financial pressures of Chapter 11 litigation, the Diocese faced deficit spending because of increased expense for maintaining its various ministries. The ministerial life of our Diocese always has depended ultimately on the generous financial support of the people in the pew. In recent years Diocesan administrators have had to downsize personnel, close some offices and combine others, reducing normal Diocesan services and ministries. Each of these adjustments has meant an unwelcome weakening of the mission of the Church in our Diocese.

As we look at the 2007-2008 budget – which is funded by this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal – we truly are down to bare bones. There are no funds in reserve. We remain in a make-or-break situation. The mission of the Church quite literally is in the hands of the faithful. Your contributions to the 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal must be a financial priority if even the essential elements of that mission are to continue.

Q. What about my pledge to the “Here I Am, Lord, Send Me” campaign?
I remain deeply grateful to all those who continue to satisfy the pledges they made to the “Here I Am, Lord, Send Me” campaign. All the funds collected in this effort must be used for the campaign and legally are out of the reach of Chapter 11 litigation.

Q. How can other questions about this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal be answered?
It is important that decisions made regarding the Annual Catholic Appeal are based on fact, and not rumor or misunderstanding. Questions about this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal may be referred to your pastor (or parish administrator) or to the Diocesan Development Office (358-4280) at any time. If I personally can be of assistance, the faithful may contact me as well (358-7305). The 2006 Annual Catholic Appeal was a blessed success.

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