Annual Bishop’s Appeal underway in all diocesan parishes

Fundraiser is ‘lifeblood’ for diocesan ministries; theme for 2016 campaign is St. Francis of Assisi’s Peace Prayer

By Jim Wogan

The annual Bishop’s Appeal — a critical source of funding for diocesan works of mercy, formation, evangelization, education, and charity — is underway at all 51 parishes and mission churches in the Diocese of Knoxville.

The theme for the 2016 Bishop’s Appeal is “Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace,” which is from the Peace Prayer by St. Francis of Assisi.

“I think St. Francis, in his prayer, invites people to listen to its words and to see how the words can be made very real in the lives of people,” said Bishop Richard F. Stika, adding that he has a great love for the Peace Prayer and considers it a fitting theme for the 2016 appeal.

“The diocesan Bishop’s Appeal reaches out to a particular segment of folks that are in need. Sometimes they get sad and they are filled with despair, and then all of a sudden somebody reaches out to them as the hand of Jesus and they offer them hope,” Bishop Stika said.

The annual Bishop’s Appeal, which kicked off in late January, is considered by Bishop Stika as the “lifeblood” for diocesan ministries.

Contributions to the Bishop’s Appeal annually help fund a variety of critical programs, including Catholic Charities, seminarian and priest formation, Justice and Peace programs, Christian formation, the St. Mary’s mobile medical clinic; and youth, young adult, and campus ministries.

The generosity of parishioners across the diocese has been reflected in the growth of the appeal in recent years. In 2012, contributions reached just over $1.4 million. Contributions in 2015 reached $2.32 million. With the diocesan Home Campaign also underway, Bishop Stika is hopeful parishioners will remain loyal to the annual mission of the Bishop’s Appeal in 2016.

“I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t donate myself,” said Bishop Stika. “I give and every year I have increased (my contribution).

“To me, the Bishop’s Appeal is a wonderful connection to the [St. Francis Peace Prayer] because it is my appeal to people to be the hand of Jesus, to be His face and his voice,” Bishop Stika said. “I think the Bishop’s

Appeal, time and again these last few years, has done so much good. It has touched the lives of people and their hearts. If I didn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t ask.” ■

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