Appeal for Catholic Ministries in gear

Jim and Bonnie Hunter of St. Mark Parish in Fallston are this year’s co-chairs of the Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries.

The homeless and the hungry, children and the aged, seminarians, and chaplains at hospitals and prisons all benefit from the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s annual fundraising campaign, the Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries.

The 2020 appeal, “Renew a Steadfast Spirit,” with a goal of $9 million, launched in parishes in February.

“A good part of (the funds) go to people on the margins,” said James Hamilton, chairman of the appeal’s Allocations Oversight Committee.

Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore are major recipients of the appeal, receiving more than $1.5 million in 2019, according to Teresa Brashears, senior director of development for stewardship and administration for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Parishes are also a major recipient. Brashears noted that one-fourth and up to one-half of funds return to the parishes in the form of rebates. Last year’s rebates, totaling $2.75 million, were used for capital projects, evangelization, tuition assistance and a variety of other needs as determined by the parishes.

Archdiocesan ministries, from the Monsignor O’Dwyer Retreat Center to the Gabriel Project and evangelization, receive grants from $20,000 to $500,000.

The appeal, once known as the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, was rebranded in 2019, with a new name focusing on its true purpose, ministry, according to Brashears.

“There are very giving, generous people in this archdiocese,” she said. “We’ve had a good start.”

The co-chairs of this year’s campaign, Bonnie and Jim Hunter of St. Mark Parish in Fallston, have participated in meetings to help pastors present this year’s campaign to their parishioners.

In January, the Hunters took part in meetings with Archbishop William E. Lori, Bishops Denis J. Madden and Adam J. Parker and pastors from all over the archdiocese.

“We talked about why it was important to us,” said Jim Hunter, familiar to many from his work in sports broadcasting. “We wanted to reassure pastors we understand why this was so important and how many people (the appeal) helps.”

The couple are available to speak about the appeal throughout 2020.

“We’re here if need be,” Hunter said.

Transparency is an important part of the appeal, according to Brashears. Reports of the use of annual appeal funds, she said are posted at archbalt.org/the-archdiocese/fiscal-accountability. “We wanted to make it very clear how the funds were being used,” she said, adding, “It’s having a positive impact on support.”

The Allocations Oversight Committee, composed of laity and clergy, meets twice a year to provide an outside opinion about how funds are spent, according to Hamilton, a certified public accountant. “The archdiocese has checks and balances in place,” he said.

Both Brashears and Hamilton emphasized that none of the funds raised by the annual appeal are used for sexual abuse lawsuits or settlements.

Parish rebates are determined by parishioners’ donations. Each congregation has a goal of raising nine percent of its offertory collection from fiscal year 2018.

For every dollar raised, the parish gets back 25 cents until the parish goal is reached. For every dollar received over its goal, the parish receives 50 cents on every dollar, according to Brashears.

“To me, it’s the best deal in town for the parishes,” she said.

Mary K. Tilghman

Mary K. Tilghman

Mary Tilghman is a freelance contributor to the Catholic Review who previously served as managing editor, news editor and staff writer for the Review.

A parishioner of St. Ignatius in Baltimore, she and her husband have three adult children. Her first novel, “Divided Loyalties” (Black Rose Writing), a historical novel set in the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam, was published in 2017.