By Colleen Rowan
WEST VIRGINIA—The 2018 Catholic Sharing Appeal (CSA) culminated with a record of more than $3.3 million raised by 5,287 donors at parishes of the diocese.
The overwhelming success of the appeal, said Krissie Benson, director of Stewardship and Development for the diocese, is attributed to so many. “Primarily, to the parish priests for talking with parishioners about the needs of the local community; and through supporting those needs, parishioners are also joining together and helping to meet the needs of the greater church across West Virginia,” she said. “It is an appeal that at first glance is a diocesan campaign, but looking deeper is truly an appeal that enhances parish life. I feel blessed to witness the people of the diocese working together to achieve their parish goals, thereby, achieving the diocesan goal.
“In a special way,” Benson continued, “I would like to thank the parishioners for their generosity to their parish and the diocese through the Catholic Sharing Appeal. And to the pastors, parish secretaries, and CSA volunteers — thank you so much for your dedication, hard work and support of the Catholic Sharing Appeal. We appreciate each and every one of you!”
The 2018 CSA surpassed its goal by more than $1.3 million, and shattered last year’s record $2.5 million raised.
“Each year we ask the faithful of West Virginia to participate in the CSA, and each year they blow us away with their generosity,” said Heidi Sforza, assistant director of Stewardship and Development for the diocese. “Since the start of the appeal in 2007, we’ve raised more than $20 million to help provide pastoral leaders with the tools they need to help them teach the faith, celebrate the sacraments, and build a vibrant culture of life centered around the Eucharist. We cannot thank our donors enough for helping the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to do the work of Christ every day.”
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.
Parish priests say that the appeal is a vehicle to address needs of the parish while, at the same time, supporting the needs of diocesan ministries.
“The CSA is an opportunity to renew the message of our shared responsibility to be good stewards of treasure,” said Msgr. Paul Hudock, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Wheeling. “Our parish leadership set clear goals for the CSA money, such as improvements to the church buildings, and invited the people to get behind those goals. We strive to be as trans- parent as possible, communicating what the money raised accomplished for the parish. The CSA helped the parish to replace the roof of our church building, replace windows in the rectory and upgrade our church parking lot.”
The appeal gives hope on multiple levels, said Father Sebastian Devasya, pastor of Sacred Heart parishes in Princeton and Bluefield. “First, we come together in unity as the Body of Christ to support the programs and good works of our Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Secondly, we are many parts. On a local level, we receive back a portion of our contributions for the needs of our own parishes. On the surface, it may appear that the Catholic Sharing Appeal is primarily a monetary endeavor, however, if we look deeper, it is much more than that. It is a spiritual journey with God and his people. We come together to live out our Catholic calling. By collectively sharing our treasure, we are able to enhance and multiply our ability to serve the poor, to educate, to evangelize, to worship, to make a difference – to give hope to the hopeless. Through the Catholic Sharing Appeal, we are part of something much bigger than each individual church. As it is in the heavens—when many distinct stars come together, they make one beautiful and radiant light!”
The understanding that the monies raised are returned to the parish, is what makes the CSA so successful each year at St. Michael Parish in Vienna, said the pastor, Father John Gallagher: “We have met and exceeded our goal for the past seven years because of the generosity of the people. The fact that the monies are used to help those in need, including our own parish make for a win-win campaign.”