By Tim Bishop
WHEELING—Through the generosity of the faithful, the 2015 Catholic Sharing Appeal (CSA) has surpassed its goal with another record-breaking year, raising nearly $2 million.
Krissie Benson, director of Stewardship and Development for the diocese, said that there were also a record numbers of donors to the campaign. “Every year,” she said, “we think we have hit the maximum amount we can raise, then all of the sudden we see the generosity of West Virginia Catholics continue to grow. We found that many parishes had a greater need this year, so pastors encouraged parishioners even more than usual.”
In the appeal, any money that is raised after the parish reaches 50 percent of its goal is returned to the parish. Benson said that aspect makes the CSA mutually beneficial to the diocese and each individual parish. “We’ve been doing this since 2007,” she said, “and pastors continue to see the potential of the appeal. They have seen how it benefits them at their parish. Because they benefit from it so greatly, it’s more than just a diocesan appeal. And of course we thank the thousands of Catholic faithful for their continued support.”
Father Raju Antony, administrator at St. Jude Parish in Glen Dale, took a unique approach to this year’s campaign by incorporating a capital campaign of his own to work in conjunction with the CSA. “Our committee saw this,” he said, “as a great opportunity to address the needs of our parish.” Father Antony said he was extremely pleased with the amount of participation the parish received from its members. “We had more than 130 families,” he said, “who saw this as a community building opportunity. We shared our success and talked openly with our families about our needs.” Father Antony said some of the money has already been used to install a new furnace and air conditioner for the church. He said they are now able to move toward replacing carpeting and other flooring in the church as well as repaving the parking lot. “When they see the improvements being made, they know that their contributions are having a positive impact at both the diocesan level and the parish level,” Father Antony said.
Benson said that the CSA helps build the church in West Virginia by supporting Catholic education, diocesan ministries and Catholic Charities West Virginia (CCWVa).
In supporting Catholic education, which receives 13 percent of the appeal funds, the CSA provides funding for professional development, school-based health initiatives, tuition assistance and curriculum enhancement and initiation.
The CSA enhances diocesan ministries, which receives 17 percent of the appeal funds, through the support of youth-based programs; such as Camp Bosco. CSA funding is also used to support evangelization efforts through the televised broadcast of weekly Mass available on the diocesan website: www.dwc.org.
Thirteen percent of the appeal funds support CCWVa in its effort to reduce poverty throughout the Mountain State. The CSA funding helps fill the needs of those who need it most. With help from the CSA, CCWVa is better able to honor basic human dignity, support childhood development and strengthen families.
Benson said that CSA monies have already supported a number of projects throughout the diocese including the implementation of a new diocesan-wide parish software system, funding for the Camp Magis program at Camp Bosco in Huttonsville and tuition assistance for students in Catholic schools across the diocese.