By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
The thank you notes that arrive in the Davenport Diocese’s Tribunal office convey a life’s worth of gratitude in a few sentences. Individuals who have gone through the annulment process are grateful for the care and compassion they receive and the sense of peace they never thought possible. The Tribunal is one of the diocesan ministries funded through the Annual Diocesan Appeal (ADA), which kicks off this weekend.
“This appeal is what makes it possible for the many ministries in the diocese to touch the lives of others,” Bishop Martin Amos said. “And through the appeal, the people of the diocese become a part of those ministries.”
A goal of $3.15 million has been set for the 2016-17 campaign that funds ministries and services to benefit all 78 parishes, 18 schools and the wider community in the Diocese of Davenport. Each parish’s portion is based on adjusted parish income of 15.3 percent, said Andy Gaertner, the Davenport Diocese’s new development director.
The diocese was able to maintain the same percentage of adjusted parish income because of parishes’ collection plate increases, a successful Seminarian Appeal earlier this year and support from the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Davenport, he noted. Funds contributed to the ADA provide the major source of income for the diocese, roughly 71 percent of its $4.43 million budget for 2016-17. The remaining funding comes from investments and fee income. Parishes that exceed their ADA goals receive 100 percent of the extra financial contributions.
“My goal right now is to get to know the parishes. It’s been fun to get out to the deaneries, but I have a lot more to learn. It’s by getting to know the parishes and our Catholic schools that I’ll be more effective in finding the resources to help them in their own ministries so that we can better serve people.” Gaertner said.
Here’s how the ADA supports diocesan ministries:
Priests and deacons: Expenses are covered for their formation and ongoing education opportunities when serving in parishes. ADA also will assist with retirement expenses.
Confirmation and other events. Bishop Amos is able to get to these events because of ADA funds.
Tribunal: The Davenport Diocese Tribunal is one of the few tribunals in the United States to provide free services, which wouldn’t be possible without ADA funding, said Judicial Vicar Father Paul Appel. Bishop Amos wanted to ensure that no one had financial barriers in seeking an annulment, marriage dispensation or marriage permission, Fr. Appel said. “It’s one less barrier for people to approach the Tribunal and to reconcile their relationship with God,” said Tribunal Auditor Beth Blough.
Ministerial resources for parishes: Administrative costs are covered for diocesan programs such as Ministry Formation, Catholic schools, stewardship workshops, Social Action, Catholic Charities and youth ministry, among others.
Parish financial reviews: The Finance office assists parishes with financial reviews, human resources and annual parish corporate meetings.
Archives: The Chancery houses and maintains sacramental records and other important records for each parish.
Salaries: ADA covers salaries for diocesan employees, including the bishop, directors and their staff.
“The Annual Diocesan Appeal means that it is possible for me to answer the call God has placed on my life to serve him and the people of Southeast Iowa as a priest,” says Deacon Chris Weber, a seminarian at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. “Without the support seminarians receive from the ADA we would not be able to receive the formation we need to be good priests. There are times when life in the seminary can get tough. Be it the class work, the distance from home, or just the fact that my job right now is to study, even though I’d much rather be serving in a parish. In those moments it helps to remember that the people of God in the Diocese of Davenport are making it possible for me to be here, that they are supporting me not only with their prayers, but with their sacrificial offerings as well.”
Chris Kabat, a deacon candidate with Deacon Class VII, noted that “the ADA is such a crucial aspect to everything we do as ‘church.’ It takes money to operate in the world we live in. I believe when the ADA is fully grasped by all of us it truly becomes a win-win-win!”
For him, the Deacon Formation program “has been a true journey of discovery of just how beautiful our Catholic faith is, and trying to discern my role in it. Without ADA supporting us as we make this journey, I am not sure we would have very many candidates step up and try to follow the voice of God. I can assure those who give that those dollars are powerful ones!”
In his parish, St. Wenceslaus-Iowa City, “we have been blessed to exceed our goal the last three years. With those surplus funds we have completely transformed our worship space – new carpet, paint, tile – truly giving the glory to God as we worship by enhancing the liturgical experience of our entire congregation. We would not have been able to do what we have without the support of the ADA and how it is structured.
“ … If we can focus on the positive and the ‘wins’ that happen because of it – we will be the church in the world so that when we leave the world we leave it a better place AND, by God’s grace, will live eternally in the next.”
ADA video online
Diocesan Development Director Andy Gaertner has created a video to show the people behind the ministries supported by the Annual Diocesan Appeal (ADA). View the video on the diocesan website at www. davenportdiocese.org.
In addition to monetary donations, the ADA also accepts donations of grain. Contact Gaertner at gaertner@ davenportdiocese.org for more information.