By Colleen Rowan
WEST VIRGINIA—The annual Catholic Sharing Appeal broke its $2 million goal, raising more than $2.3 million this year for Catholic education, Catholic Charities West Virginia and other diocesan ministries. At the same time, parishes that reached their goals are seeing the rewards of the appeal with the CSA’s parish share.
“We had another amazing year for Catholic Sharing Appeal,” said Krissie Benson, director of Stewardship and Development for the diocese. “The faithful across our diocese have shown their generosity to their parishes, and to the ministries, programs and services that the appeal supports.”
The appeal helps fund more than 20 programs and ministries in the diocese, which provide outreach, formation, evangelization, Catholic education and advocacy for thousands of families and individuals throughout West Virginia. Vocations, Formation and Mission, Youth and Young Adult Ministry and Communications and Marketing are just a sampling of the various ministries that receive funding through the CSA.
Once a parish reaches half of its parish goal, every dollar given after that is returned to the parish. Benson said that the first distribution check went back out to parishes in September and totaled roughly $900,000. “Fifty-five parishes received funds for the CSA that enable them to do so many wonderful things at their parishes,” she said.
Parishes are using the money in many ways from repairs to church buildings, to paying loans, to making improvements to music ministry, to supporting the local food pantries. One of those parishes is St. Michael in Vienna which is using its parish share to complete a lighting project and landscaping, and supporting several local Catholic and ecumenical charities. “I’m always impressed and thankful for the parishioners at St. Michael in their generosity and willingness to help those in need through our second collections,” said Father John Gallagher, pastor of St. Michael’s. “The Catholic Sharing Appeal has always exceeded its goal here and is used not only in the parish, but in our programs that assist those in need.” St. Michael’s reached 124 percent of its $31,195 goal, raising $38,820.
This is the second year that St. Leo Parish in Inwood has surpassed its goal. Father Alfred Obiudu, pastor of the parish, said that his parishioners believed in the mission of the CSA. St. Leo’s had a goal of raising $32,580.00. Reaching 112 percent of that goal, the parish ended up raising more than $36,454. St. Leo’s is using its parish share to pay its mortgage. “I’m grateful to our parishioners,” Father Obiudu said. “They believed in the mission.” He said his parishioners were generous to the appeal, and that one parishioner gave $5,000. “It is important for all of us to focus on the local needs of our parishes, especially now,” Benson said. “And using the CSA as a vehicle is one way to do just that. The success of the CSA, yet again this year, proves that the people of West Virginia have really come together to support their local parishes.”
The success of the CSA at St. Patrick Parish in Mannington is mainly due to the congregation realizing the help and support given by the diocese after the flood in July 2017, said Father Vincy Illickal, TOR, pastor. “Our church basement experienced a tremendous amount of damage and loss,” he said. “The diocese stepped in to help us rebuild and refurnish to its full capacity. The church basement is used primarily for CCD classes and also the office staff.” After explaining to the congregation the benefit of donating to the CSA, he said, the people were very understanding and generous, realizing that a portion of the amount donated would be returned to St. Patrick’s for future improvements such as repairing the entire drainage system surrounding the church. “We would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to our diocese during this difficult time,” Father Illickal said.
On the diocesan level, Benson said, the appeal provided $200,000 for CCWVa and $68,000 for the School-Based Health Program, along with support from the Sisters of St. Joseph Health and Wellness Foundation. The appeal also provided funding for many statewide programs such as Professional Development Day for principals and teachers of diocesan Catholic schools in October, and a Day of Reflection at St. Leo Parish in Inwood that was attended by more than 20 music ministers from around the diocese participated in a Day of Reflection at St. Leo Parish in Inwood. Three upcoming Christian Marriage Preparation Workshops will also receive CSA funding. Benson said that one of the biggest perks of giving to the CSA is that gifts are exempt from taxes such as PHRA and cathedraticum. Gifts to the 2018 CSA will be accepted through Jan. 31. Donors can make a pledge or donate directly by using a credit card, personal check or by using direct debit. Donors may also make a gift of appreciated securities. Gifts can be broken down into eight monthly payments to make is easier for supporters to give. Gifts may be sent to: Catholic Sharing Appeal, PO Box 230, Wheeling, WV, 26003. A mailing with information about the appeal and ways to donate went out to parishioners of the diocese April 13. For more information about the appeal, visit www.dwc.org/CSA.