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As we prepare for our big kick-off weekend for our 2014 Annual Catholic Appeal, I’m often asked, “Where does my money go? Why should I give?”  These are great questions, and I want to help you make informed decisions about how you can best serve others this year. That might be through a donation to the Appeal. It might be by learning about one of the agencies we support through the Appeal, and volunteering there. Or your agency might learn more about our charitable mission, and become more closely involved with us.

So to answer the first question, of the approximately $2.5 million raised last year, nearly $350,000 went to grants to external agencies. The remainder of the money raised is allocated to diocesan programs, such as Seminarian education, supporting retired religious, our Catholic schools throughout the diocese, Catholic Communications, and Latino ministry.

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As the Annual Catholic Appeal Manager, one of my favorite things is getting out into the community and discovering a new agency that is doing work that could be funded through the Annual Catholic Appeal. Here are the basic requirements:

  • The agency performs one of the Corporal Works of Mercy (feeding the hungry, visiting those in prison, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, visiting the sick)
  • The agency is endorsed by a pastor or priest in the county in which they operate
  • The agency, while not necessarily Catholic, abides by and follows Catholic teaching (does not contradict Catholic teaching)
  • The agency is within the boundaries of the Diocese of Springfield (Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties)

Right now, we are able to fund agencies between the range of a few thousand dollars up to $30,000 and beyond, depending on the capacity of the agency to deliver programming. Here are the criteria I use when determining funding:

  • What population is served (youth, elderly, families, unborn, etc.)?
  • What other funding sources does the agency have access to?
  • What is the current size of their budget?

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So is your agency a potential match? Consider the following:

  • Our “feelers” are always out for agencies that promote the Corporal Works of Mercy and whose mission aligns with the mission of the Appeal.
  • Demonstration of need, purpose and population served are all things that we look for when deciding to invite an agency to submit a grant proposal
  • Unique programs (Rick’s Place is a wonderful example) that fulfill a need that is not currently being fulfilled are always of interest to our funding group

Next week, I’ll discuss our goals for 2014 and what those goals mean for our region and the agencies serving it. Until then, I encourage you to read our 2013 Accountability Report and to visit and like our Facebook page.

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Aesop once said that, ”After all is said and done, a lot more will have been said than done.” It would definitely seem that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is not content with letting the Church be guilty of just talking about the problems of the world; rather,he insists that we take the Gospel to heart and roll up our collective sleeves and attend to the needs of the suffering, the hungry, and the poor: “be open to others, especially to the poorest and neediest, to work to improve the world in which we live. Be men and women with others and for others, real champions in the service of others.”

As you may know, we are about to kick-off the 2014 Annual Catholic Appeal. Our theme this year – based on the call of the Gospel and inspired by Pope Francis’ urges for us to return to our Gospel roots – is Serve with Love. In addition to supporting the ministry of the diocese, did you know that the Annual Catholic Appeal directly supports local organizations that are responding to Pope Francis’ call to serve the poor, the underserved, and the neglected?

This year, we’re adding a social media component to our campaign to better share the stories of these organizations and the families they serve. Through our daily Facebook posts and tweets, you’ll not only be able to learn more about their important work, but you’ll be able to share how you choose to serve with love in your own way: we encourage you to share your comments on our Facebook page or to tweet how you are responding to Francis’ call – whether it’s “liking” an organization’s work, or volunteering your time at one of their events, or supporting the 2014 Annual Catholic Appeal – by using the hashtag #wmaservewithlove.

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