Final weeks critical for Bishop’s Appeal goal

Thousands served by the work of fundraising campaign     

East Tennessee Catholic staff report

Helping those in need Jimmy and his friend, Sandy, live at Samaritan Place, a Catholic Charities of East Tennessee home that provides shelter and support for low-income seniors located in Knoxville. Courtesy of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee

The Bishop’s Appeal 2012, Coming Together in Christ,is nearing its completion and the response during the final few weeks of the calendar year will determine if the appeal meets its goal.

With a goal of $1.45 million to be raised, the Bishop’s Appeal has brought in $1.3 million as of the end of October. Going into the final few months of the year, the appeal will need to raise $150,000 to meet the bishop’s goal for 2012.

“Dollars given to the Bishop’s Appeal help so many people in so many ways,” Bishop Richard F. Stika said. “The generosity of those who support the appeal helps us to continue to be the hands and face of Jesus to others in a real and present way.”

The Bishop’s Appeal supports thousands of people across the diocese. The largest single group served by the appeal is Catholic Charities of East Tennessee, which receives nearly 30 cents of every dollar raised.

“Support provided by the Bishop’s Appeal is an important part of our ability to house and care for thousands of vulnerable East Tennesseans every year,” said Father Ragan Schriver, executive director of Catholic Charities. “Take for instance Jimmy, who lives with us here at Samaritan Place. We are only able to care for Jimmy and many others through the generous giving of others.”

Samaritan Place is one of several Catholic Charities ministries, all of which are supported in part by donations to the Bishop’s Appeal.

The Bishop’s Appeal also provides critical support for priest, deacon and seminarian formation, as well as religious education, youth, young adult, and campus ministries.

Father Michael Cummins, diocesan director of vocations, offered his perspective on the importance of the Bishop’s Appeal.

“Imagine a family trying to send 19 kids to college. That’s the situation for our diocesan ‘family.’ This year we have 19 men in seminary studying for the priesthood. This is an incredible blessing but also a huge financial commitment. The Bishop’s Appeal and the Catholic Foundation provide the necessary dollars we need to send these men to seminary.  This support is vital for the future of the church,” Father Cummins said.

Bishop Stika is encouraged with the progress of the appeal to date, but noted the final few weeks will be very important.

“I hope that all of the faithful hear of the good works of the appeal and consider giving generously in support of them. Even a small amount can make a big difference,” Bishop Stika said.

A highlight of this year’s appeal has been an increase in overall participation among parishioners.

“One of the things I’m most encouraged by is the increased participation in this year’s appeal,” the bishop said. “We have had an increase of over 1,400 donors to the appeal this year. I am delighted that the work of the appeal is being supported by more and more people. By coming together in Christ, we can do so much more together than any single person or parish can do on its own.”

Kevin Cooney, a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Lenoir City and a supporter of the appeal, praised the effects the campaign has on programs throughout the diocese.

“The Bishop’s Appeal gives us the chance to affect lives beyond the confines of our own parish,” Mr. Cooney said. “The Diocese of Knoxville, in all its diversity, truly reflects the Body of Christ. The good works of the appeal give us the opportunity to help a great number of people.”

John Deinhart, diocesan director of Stewardship and Strategic Planning, offered an additional perspective. “Many times we hear that we should give to a need—and clearly there are so many needs. But more important, I believe, is that we have within us a need to give. Our need to give stems from simple gratitude in thanksgiving to God for the rich blessings He has given us.”

The Bishop’s Appeal 2012 “Coming Together in Christ” will come to an end Dec. 31. While contributions to the appeal still will be accepted after the December closing, there may be tax advantages for some in giving before the end of the calendar year.

Barring future congressional action, the gradual phase-out of itemized deductions for higher income taxpayers will be reinstated in 2013. This would mean that deductions for charitable donations may be more valuable for reducing taxes in this year than they would be in 2013.

Mr. Deinhart asks all who made pledges to the appeal to please make their payments before the end of the year and not wait until the last minute.

“We’re right down to the wire this year, and while it’s exciting to be so close to achieving our goal, we could live with a little less excitement,” he said with a smile.

Pledge payments and contributions can be made to The Diocese of Knoxville Bishop’s Appeal, 805 Northshore Drive, Knoxville TN 37919.

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