By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Just six weeks into the new year, the Office of Mission Advancement has announced that gifts and pledges to the 2019 Catholic Services Appeal — the archdiocese’s largest free-will offering — surpassed its $3.9 million goal.
While this is the largest goal ever sought by the Mission Advancement Office, it’s down about $138,000 from last year’s total — the most pledged in the history of the CSA.
Richard “Tink” Guthrie, vice chancellor of the Archdiocese of Louisville who served as director of the Office of Mission Advancement until recently, said reaching the goal set forth last October is an “indication that our faith community wants to support ministries and services that make a big difference in people’s lives.”
“It’s a celebration and affirmation from the faithful that says these services, ministries to our brothers and sisters in Christ are very needed and valued,” he said.
As of Feb. 11, parishioners pledged $3,925,154, which represents 100.6 percent of this year’s goal. The appeal began Oct. 1, 2018. The total number of donors stands at 12,857, a figure that is down about 1,500 from last year’s totals around this same time.
Several factors affected the number of gifts and participants in this year’s campaign, said Melody Denson, the new director of the Office of Mission Advancement. Among those factors, she said, are the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the American Catholic Church, a new Kentucky tax law that went into effect last year and the number of parishes engaged in capital campaigns.
“I think it’s nice Catholics still contributed in such a turbulent year with everything going on. That they still supported the church is so important,” said Denson, who began her leadership of the office in December.
Denson said many parishioners benefit from the appeal, such as when a parish welcomes a newly-ordained priest (a seminarian’s education costs about $45,000 per year) or by supporting a retired priest.
The CSA provides funding to more than 100 ministries and agencies in the archdiocese, which is comprised of 110 parishes throughout 24 counties. It provides funding for a number of liturgical and catechetical ministers who offer instruction in parishes. It also aids prison ministry, hospital visitation teams and safe environment training workshops.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz said reaching the campaign’s goal was a “great act of generosity by families.”
“I’ve always said the archdiocese is 110 parishes helping one another. Perhaps, there’s no clearer way that occurs than with each of them supporting the Catholic Services Appeal.
The archbishop noted the church’s sexual abuse crisis and said he’s aware of the challenges facing families.
“I suspect confusion and hurt and even anger of some families might have led them to not contribute this year and I respect that.
“I’m aware of the challenges both economically to people but also the challenges within the church regarding how we are dealing with scandals of the past. I’m grateful families are renewing their faith in Christ and for their willingness to continue to be engaged in the life of the church,” he said.
To date, 50 parishes have met their individual goals and another 23 parishes are within 90 percent of goal.
Denson said one of the contributors to the success of the campaign lies within the pastors and other parish leaders.
“From my short time here, one of the big factors are the priests. They really pushed it with the parishes and talked about how important the CSA campaign is,” she said.
Organizers of the appeal said there is still time to contribute. The 2019 campaign runs through June. To learn more, visit www.archlou.org/CSA.