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

The Light of a New Dawn: Annual Catholic Appeal 2011

the Inland Register

(From the Feb. 3, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)

Q. Bishop Cupich, you are new to our diocese as our bishop. However, you are not new to the responsibilities of your office. How do you see us and our needs?

Since I am new to the Diocese, perhaps I can bring a different perspective and point out some under-appreciated blessings, thus allowing us to see the bigger picture. Undoubtedly, the trauma of bankruptcy has affected our people; the sin of sexual abuse has broken the hearts of the faithful as they decry the harm done to children. Nevertheless, we are more than a diocese which has suffered bankruptcy. We are more than the failures of nearly 30 years ago and we surely are more than the sins of the very few. We are disciples of Christ who enjoy the privilege of bringing the light of the Gospel to so many. In the brief time I have been here, I have seen time and again how the people of our diocese are shining beacons of goodness and grace. That is what gives me hope. I truly do see the “light of a new dawn” breaking upon us.

Q. Why is an annual diocesan appeal necessary?

The Annual Catholic Appeal 2011 makes it possible for us to function as a local Church – that is, as a diocese. If there were no diocese, there would be no parishes, no priests to assign, no connection with the universal Church, no access to resources and benefits which result from belonging to the Catholic Church. Additionally, the diocese provides services which exceed the abilities of parishes, such as the formation of future priests and deacons, curriculum support for schools, diocese-wide communications, marriage preparation, adjudication of marriage cases, insurance and retirement programs, and access to grants from outside foundations. In a word, the Annual Catholic Appeal 2011 reminds us that we are one Church and that we need each other. To a large degree, the strength and stability of our parishes depends on having a strong and stable diocese. Presently, we are in a rebuilding phase following bankruptcy. I invite all Catholics to help me take up the challenge of moving forward in a way that will benefit all our parishes and communities of faith.

Q. Can the faithful be assured that their contributions to the Annual Catholic Appeal 2011 will be used for creating the “new dawn” you envision?

When people make a financial donation in support of the work of the Church, they properly expect that their money will be spent in accordance with their intentions. Washington State law clearly supports such an expectation. The intention of the donor must be respected. For that reason, the promotional materials for the ACA have been designed carefully to make it clear that all gifts will be used in support of the administration and ministries of the local Church.

Moreover, to protect the intention of the donors, a newly created stand-alone legal entity with 501(c)3 tax exempt status called the “Diocesan Ministries Fund” has been created to receive all gifts. Beginning with the Annual Catholic Appeal 2011, with my full endorsement this Fund will be the official entity which conducts the Appeal and receives and processes all pledges and contributions. The name “Diocesan Ministries Fund” – and not that of “The Catholic Diocese of Spokane” – will appear on all stationery and materials which promote the Annual Catholic Appeal 2011. This special identity assures that the intention of donors will be followed. Donors are instructed to make checks payable to “Annual Catholic Appeal 2011.” All contributions will be deposited in this Fund. There will be no co-mingling of these funds with diocesan financial assets. A special board of directors will control and oversee the distribution of these funds and will be obligated to follow the intention of donors contributing for the purpose of the ACA 2011 goals. Following the intention of donors, all these funds must be spent only on diocesan ministry and administration.

Q. What are some of the elements of the “new dawn” which breaks upon us as you lead us through your first Annual Catholic Appeal as our Bishop?

My office as bishop primarily is one of service. All of Christ’s faithful engage in the work of the Church, each of us according to our unique responsibilities. So, my task is to muster resources, foster collaboration and engage all the People of God in the care, celebration and support of our Catholic faith and its mission. The Annual Catholic Appeal 2011 is a primary example. I have asked Stephen and Karen Domini from Assumption Parish (Spokane), Father Alex Zepeda, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish (Othello), and Father Mike Kwiatkowski, pastor of St. Joseph Parish (Otis Orchards) to serve as co-chairs of the Annual Catholic Appeal 2011. The inclusion of these individuals is significant. This annual Appeal is the collaborative work of the entire local Church, laity and clergy. The service these individuals are providing to the Appeal effort is a living reminder of that shared responsibility.

Q. What is the status of the threat to the financial stability of the Diocese and parishes as we enter into the Annual Catholic Appeal 2011?

Our diocese has incurred significant financial debt as the result of its bankruptcy case. Presently, we are paying off notes totaling about $4 million. Thus far, we have managed to meet our basic needs on a shoestring budget. We must be careful not to overextend ourselves and I am ready to make additional cuts in our budget if needed. This coming year we must raise $2,272,444 to support our ministries and to help retire our debt. Over the past several months I have outlined in messages to the Catholic community the present bankruptcy situation and the need to bring a resolution to the issue of future claims. As I mentioned in my letter last November, I am fully committed to the just compensation of survivors of sexual abuse covered by the Plan of Reorganization, which set the parameters for closure of the diocese’s bankruptcy case. At the same time, I am the pastor of the local Church in Eastern Washington. As such, I am responsible for continuing its mission. That is why I have taken the step of entering into mediation to resolve these matters. Once that is accomplished we will be able to move forward with a fresh start. The prayers of everyone are so very important for a successful outcome. I encourage all the faithful to join in prayer either privately or communally for this end.

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