Parishioners continue their generous support for Diocese of Knoxville’s service organizations and community initiatives
By Jim Wogan
The annual Bishop’s Appeal, the most crucial source of financial support for the ministries of the Diocese of Knoxville, is heading for a record-setting year in 2019 with commitments of $2.7 million pledged by parishioners from across the diocese.
The record projection is based on statistics reported through May 2019 and reflects stunning growth of financial support for diocesan ministries over the past nine years.
“What parishioners have done by supporting our ministries in recent years is literally off the charts,” Bishop Richard F. Stika said.
“Every January, I request the faithful to please consider all the good work we do as a diocese through Catholic Charities of East Tennessee, in clergy and Christian formation, with youth and young adults, and in our many other ministries like the St. Mary’s medical clinic. I ask for financial support through the Bishop’s Appeal so that we can continue to provide these ministries.
Our parishioners have continued to show the goodness that they have in their hearts. I am extremely grateful for their generosity,” he added.
The $2.7 million in pledges for 2019 is the seventh year of record growth for the appeal over the past nine years.
John Deinhart, director of Stewardship and Strategic Planning for the Diocese of Knoxville, credits a greater awareness and understanding by parishioners of what the Bishop’s Appeal does as contributing factors in the record-setting contribution levels.
“Each year, I hear more and more people who relate to the ministries that are funded by the appeal. We have so many people who have given so much to support works that no one parish or individual could do alone—like Bishop Stika has often said, ‘We do together what we cannot do alone,’” Mr. Deinhart said.
The 2010 appeal raised $920,600. Following a redefined strategic effort to communicate the impact of the appeal on ministries, the response by parishioners showed astounding growth from 2011-14.
The 2011 Bishop’s Appeal surpassed $1.2 million. In 2012, contributions increased to nearly $1.6 million. By 2013, the appeal topped $2 million for the first time. In 2014, the appeal set another record when it surpassed $2.3 million.
From 2014-18, the Bishop’s Appeal continued to surpass annual giving of $2 million. The 2018 Bishop’s Appeal reached $2.4 million, a record until this year, when the appeal is projected to reach $2.7 million.
“Another crucial part of the success of the appeal is the support of our pastors and parishes. They know the good the appeal does, and they have been wonderful in their open support for it and relaying that enthusiasm to the faithful,” Mr. Deinhart added.
While support of the Bishop’s Appeal is easily illustrated by the large numbers, it is more important to realize what those dollars mean to those who are served by diocesan ministries, according to Mr. Deinhart. Since 2012, ministries supported by the Bishop’s Appeal have seen a combined increase of nearly $6.8 million in budgeted funding when compared to funding levels from 2011.
For example, in 2011 Catholic Charities of East Tennessee received $336,600 from the Bishop’s Appeal. In 2019, the organization is projected to receive $500,000. In effect, Catholic Charities has received almost $1.1 million more than it would have received when compared to funding in 2011.
Funding for seminarian education has quadrupled from $118,972 in 2011 to $495,000 projected this year, reflecting an incremental increase of more than $2.9 million.
Youth and young adult program funding has increased from $170,756 in 2011 to $440,000 projected this year, an incremental increase of more than $1.3 million.
The St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic has received $400,000 over the past five years from the Bishop’s Appeal.
“Given the challenges the Church has faced in recent years, I am encouraged that many of our parishioners continue to recognize we are doing the right thing and that the Bishop’s Appeal is actually an extension of who we are as Catholics to provide food and shelter to the vulnerable; to educate our youth, and to support our young adults when they’re tempted to drift from our Catholic faith while living and learning on college campuses; to build our Church through faith formation; to educate our seminarians; and all the other good and worthwhile things that we should be doing as Christians,” Bishop Stika said.
Judging projections for the 2019 Bishop’s Appeal on data released in May is usually a reliable indicator of final results. In five of the past six years, pledge totals from May have predicted within an average of 2 percent of the final amount raised by the Bishop’s Appeal, according to Mr. Deinhart.
Bishop Stika initiated the 2019 Bishop’s Appeal in January.
He called on parishioners to build on the energy and enthusiasm of the 30th anniversary of the diocese in 2018 by joining together as “One Spirit in Christ” to strengthen the ministries the diocese supports in 2019.