Fifty-three parishes in the Davenport Diocese have exceeded their Annual Diocesan Appeal goal, compared with 43 parishes for the same period last year. The campaign, with a $2.92 million goal, concludes in September. Parishes that exceed goal receive the overage. Last year, that overage totaled $180,000. (See this chart for parish-by-parish progress so far this year.)
Diocesan Development Director Sister Laura Goedken, O.P., noted that “a number of factors have contributed to more parishes making goal this year. For some parishes, I believe the Offertory Increase program may have helped. Education in stewardship is helping raise people’s awareness of the importance of supporting their parish and their diocese.
“They are becoming aware that all is gift from a good and generous God. Some parishioners were able to make a bigger donation by giving stock or by giving with an IRA rollover. Some parishes have a newly ordained deacon or priest whose education was paid for by donations to the Annual Diocesan Appeal.”
Parishes recognize role of diocese
Since the Annual Diocesan Appeal kicked off in September, 65 percent of St. Mary parishioners in Dodgeville have pledged to donate. Their pledges have brought the 151-family parish to 180 percent of its fundraising goal of $13,971.
“What pleases me is the large percentage of parishioners giving — whether it’s $1 or $500; each year we’re looking for a greater percentage of participation,” said Father David Steinle, pastor. “To me, that’s a hallmark of the parish in terms of what they think of the diocese.”
He said parishioner Jeff Burgus promoted the appeal during Mass, sharing examples of how the diocese works with parishes. Diocesan staffers have helped St. Mary’s update its religious education program, assisted the parish with the VIRTUS program designed to prevent sexual abuse, and helped provide marriage preparation programs that parishioners use.
“We do strive to continually educate parishioners that we are part of the diocesan church,” Fr. Steinle said. This year’s ADA theme — “Connected by Faith” — highlighted that truth, he added. “We are connected in faith as parishioners, as a deanery — which we saw with deanery celebrations for the Year of Faith – and as a larger church in the Diocese of Davenport.”
Father Joseph Phung, pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant, attributed the success of the parish’s ADA campaign to “the good hearts of the people of our parish. We think that at various times of the year we let people know what a help the diocese is to our parish and so people are more willing to contribute to the ADA.”
This year, the parish had an almost 50 percent participation rate — 171 of the 354 registered households — which is higher than in past years. Parishioners donated a total of $52,338, or 123 percent of goal. “We attribute this, in part, to the enhanced offertory program, which has been very successful for us,” Fr. Phung said. “I think it gets people in a more ‘giving’ frame of mind.”
Additionally, the parish has been stressing stewardship in bulletins for the past year, with articles on stewardship and various stewardship prayers. St. Alphonsus also follows the diocesan template for the ADA campaign fairly closely: 1) announcement in the bulletin and at Masses the first week; 2) letter to all families; 3) weekly reports in the bulletin and at Masses on the progress of pledges.
Parish Secretary Vicki Lohmann added, “it’s always a nice surprise when you make goal … people have been very gracious and generous.”
Father Robert McAleer, pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf, said his parish has reached its ADA goal all 14 years he has served at the parish. This year, 32 percent of the parish’s 1,783 households pledged $180,152, or 112 percent of the $160,718 goal.
Personal, creative appeals help
Fr. McAleer said he writes his own letter each year, which is mailed with ADA information to all families in the parish. A second mailing goes out if the goal has not been reached. “We mail envelopes to all homes,” he noted.
Sr. Goedken said: “Many people give the same amount every year to the annual appeal, yet income and expenses go up. The diocese selected some parishes to work with and asked parishioners who had been giving to increase their giving.”
One of those parishioners was Herb Noetzel, a member of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine. He received a letter from the diocese inviting him to increase his annual donation by $50, and after seeing Father Jacob Greiner’s unique presentation about the appeal during Mass, Noetzel decided to do so.
The parochial vicar “brought out a roll of toilet paper and said, ‘Your gift to the diocese is like this roll of toilet paper. You miss it when you don’t have it.’ He tore off a strip about a yard long and said, ‘This is what our parish is giving. Then he took off a corner and said, ‘This is your share.’
“It made everyone laugh,” Noetzel said. “I went home, wrote a check and put it in the mail the same day.”
Retired after teaching for 50 years, he appreciates that the ADA funds the education of priests and deacons. The diocese “is an umbrella that serves all the ministries we need in this area. That’s why I give.”
Diocesan programs need ADA support
IlaMae Hanisch, the diocese’s adult & family formation/lay ministry coordinator, said ADA funding is vital to the diocese’s ministry formation programs.
“Most parishes or even clusters of parishes could not provide ministry formation on their own because of the cost and the personnel needed. On average, for the three programs we offer each year it takes about 25-30 people teaching, facilitating, and some of them teach more than one class or group!
“We would not be able to offer the programs at such a reduced fee without the support of the ADA. The only two sources of funding for the MFP (Ministry Formation Program) in our diocese are program fees and the ADA. That’s it,” Hanisch continued. “And participants who complete the program often continue to volunteer and support the Church and especially their parishes.”
(Barb Arland-Fye, Celine Klosterman and Anne Marie Amacher contributed to this story.)