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

It’s Time to Build: The 2008 Annual Catholic Appeal

the Inland Register

(From the Feb. 7, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Q. What is the special urgency which drives this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal?

Even before the Diocese of Spokane found it necessary to declare bankruptcy to address multiple claims of sexual abuse by its clergy and ministers, an unsteady economy and the ever-increasing expense of maintaining a variety of ministries and services were creating significant pressures on the annual diocesan budget. In recent years that pressure – and, obviously, additional ones resulting from the now-settled bankruptcy case – have forced the lay-off of personnel, the elimination of important services, the combination of offices, and the recruitment of volunteers to assume responsibility for diocesan services and ministries. Each of these cut-backs has weakened the mission of the Church in our diocese. This slide backwards cannot continue without causing additional harm. Truly, as the theme for this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal announces – “It’s Time to Build.”

The vitality of our diocese depends on the generous and even sacrificial financial support of the faithful, the people in the pew. Given the depletion of resources available for the funding of diocesan ministries and services, that support is even more critical. The 2008-2009 budget – funded by this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal – reflects a persistent make-it-or-break-it financial situation. The mission of the Church quite literally lies in the hands of the faithful. Their contributions to the 2008 Annual Catholic Appeal must be a financial priority if even the essential elements of that mission are to continue. Every building block – every dollar parishioners give, or don’t give – makes a difference.

Q. What is funded by the Annual Catholic Appeal?

We Catholics know intuitively that we are part of a diocese-wide community of faith which jointly fosters the mission of Jesus Christ. We know that we “belong” to more than just a home parish. We also participate in the life and ministry of the diocese. Phrases like “the diocese” or “diocesan administration” refer to both the services of diocesan offices as well as the (sometimes dry and tedious) business aspects of administering a community of more than 95,000 Catholics throughout Eastern Washington. Although an individual parish’s participation in the Annual Catholic Appeal does not “purchase” every service it funds, every parish benefits from its success in various ways (even if they are not readily recognized).

As the figures in the box at the top of this page indicate, the $1,803,490 income from the Annual Catholic Appeal funds 66 percent of the ministerial services and administrative expenses of our diocese!

Q. Does the settlement of the diocese’s bankruptcy case affect this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal?

The diocese’s bankruptcy case has been settled. The generosity and financial sacrifice of the faithful in every parish in the Diocese have contributed significantly to its settlement. Their contribution of $10million of the $48 million bankruptcy settlement sum is a strong witness to faith. Through an objective court-approved process, survivors of sexual abuse by priests and Church ministers are receiving compensation for the harm they have suffered – and the mission of the Catholic Church in the diocese continues.

In order to satisfy its financial obligations to the $48 million bankruptcy settlement, the diocese had to arrange for loans totaling $6,565,417. The pay-down on the principle and interest associated with these loans now must be included in the diocesan budget – and will be for several years to come.

With the end of bankruptcy litigation, the question of whether or not parishioners’ contributions to the Annual Catholic Appeal pay attorney fees or litigation expenses no longer remains valid. They do not. The satisfaction of those expenses now must come out of the $48M settlement sum. The use of contributions to the 2008 Annual Catholic Appeal is restricted to the support of the programs, ministries and services identified in the promotional literature. Washington State law requires that this “donor intent” be followed – and be verified when diocesan finances undergo their independent annual audit.

Q. What is the Annual Catholic Appeal?

Each year the faithful in every parish in the Diocese of Spokane collaborate to raise money in support of the mission of the Catholic Church in this part of Washington State. The Annual Catholic Appeal is one of four annual diocese-wide collections. The other collections are: Church in the United States; Catholic Charities Christmas Collection; and Mission of the Church in the World. These four collections form an integral part of tithing, or stewardship planning, on the part of parishioners. 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.” These collections are a necessary and important part of Church life.

Q. How is the ACA goal set for each parish?

Over the years the Bishop and the Pastors have identified an acceptable “benchmark” for determining their parish’s share of the Annual Catholic Appeal: 20% of the parish income from the previous fiscal year (Sunday/Holy Day envelopes plus plate totals). This figure is in line with the Stewardship guidelines set by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. The figure determined in this manner is not a tax levied on the parish; nevertheless, it is a serious goal which pastors and parishes are expected to do everything possible to achieve.

Q. Has the 2004 “Seminary Campaign” ended?

The “Here I Am, Lord, Send Me Campaign,” conducted by the Catholic Foundation for the education of seminarians and the reconstruction of Bishop White Seminary has nearly run its course. Some pledges remain to be satisfied. The money collected in this “Seminary Campaign” was untouched by bankruptcy litigation and must be used for the expressed intention of its donors. Plans are underway currently for the reconstruction of Bishop White Seminary. The old Huetter Mansion, for so long the visual anchor of the seminary at 429 East Sharp Avenue, Spokane – and the college seminary “home” for a good number of our diocesan priests – will be moved just across the street. Hopes are that construction will begin in May 2008.

Please address any questions about the Annual Catholic Appeal to your pastor; or contact the Diocesan Development Office (358-4280).

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