By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
The Annual Diocesan Appeal (ADA) officially kicks off the weekend of Sept. 25-26. This year’s theme, inspired by the Year of St. Joseph, is “Open Our Hearts to Christ.”
“We open our hearts to Christ by our being good stewards of the gifts that we have been given,” said Michael Hoffman, diocesan director of Development and Stewardship. “We are encouraged to give back to God for his blessings he has given every one of us.”
Hoffman said this year’s theme is a reminder to “keep Christ front and center,” especially amidst the closings, cancellations and postponements that have become a normal — and at times disconnecting — part of pandemic life. “Our hearts should always be open to Christ. The fact that this is the year of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and protector of the Holy Family, made the decision an easy one for this year’s Annual Diocesan Appeal.”
ADA funds support the ministries and programs of the Diocese of Davenport. Because Catholics may not be aware of where ADA funds go, this year’s mailings will be “more informative” in explaining how the gifts are distributed to the various ministries served, Hoffman said.
“The work of the ADA provides so much good throughout the diocese and is the major fundraising campaign that the diocese has each year,” Hoffman said. “Each gift, no matter the amount, helps to continue to provide valuable programs and services throughout the diocese.”
Last year, diocesan Catholics made 10,000 individual gifts and pledges, Hoffman said. While that number was down from the previous year, the average gift increased. “Given the pandemic, the overall results were strong and more parishes achieved their goal than the previous appeal.
We knew that many individuals were hit hard by the pandemic last year, for a number of reasons, but we were very pleased by the outpouring of generosity.”
This year’s ADA goal is $3.1 million, which is lower than last year and the same goal as the 2016 appeal. “We are being very mindful of monies, and we are not about raising the appeal each year to keep up with inflation,” Hoffman said. “Rather, we only ask for the funds we need to provide for the initiatives throughout the diocese.”
Funds are distributed among four core areas:
• Chancery operations and parish services
Finance and administration, human resources, stewardship, development, communication, liturgies, national councils, Diocesan Pastoral Council, St. Vincent Center maintenance, archives, and bishops emeritus.
• Ministry formation and clergy support
Seminarian education, vocations office, diaconate program, vicar for priests, the newly ordained, deacon formation, clergy assistance, St. Vincent kitchen.
• Charity and services
Catholic Charities and social action, victim assistance, marriage tribunal, Pacem in Terris, Project Rachel, university chaplains.
• Evangelization and faith formation
Faith formation, schools office, ministry formation, young adult ministry, Totus Tuus.
The diocese mailed ADA materials to households a week prior to the ADA kickoff and plans to offer video testimonies from priests and other Catholics giving accounts of how the ADA benefits the faithful of the diocese. These videos will be available on the diocesan website (davenportdiocese.org) and on parish websites “so that people can hear and see how their gifts are used.”
Father Chris Weber, pastor of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine, spoke about the importance of the annual collection in his homilies the weekend of Sept. 18-19. “What we do here at Saints Mary and Mathias is just a part of something bigger than us. We are a part of the Diocese of Davenport, which exists to bring the Lordship of Jesus Christ to the entire Southeast corner of Iowa,” he said. With the help of the diocese, the parish is able to support a Catholic school that serves over 200 students. The diocesan Office of Immigration “worked overtime” to make it possible for Father Khoa Le of Vietnam to get the visa he needed so he could begin serving the parish as parochial vicar this summer. Father Weber also emphasized the importance of the ADA in the education and formation of priests and deacons. “Without your support of the Annual Diocesan Appeal, my formation for the priesthood would not have been possible. Without your support of the Annual Diocesan Appeal, I would not be standing here today.”
Hoffman encourages Catholics in the diocese to “prayerfully consider making a gift to this year’s ADA when you receive your mailing later this month.”