By Alex Previtera, Special to The Catholic Virginian

Because of the overwhelming support of parishioners across the Diocese, the 2017 Annual Diocesan Appeal has now raised $2,098,365 (as of 3/30/17) and is quickly nearing its goal of $2,671,471. In the early going, 36 parishes have already exceeded their 2017 targets. To date, there has been 1 parish over 600%, 1 parish over 300%, 4 parishes over 200% and 30 parishes over 100%.

As the Appeal enters April, it shows few signs of slowing down. In fact, it has now entered the next phase. To date, the Diocese has received decisions from many Catholic households through the February mailing from Bishop DiLorenzo and the in-pew weekends. However, there are many parishioners who have not had the opportunity to participate. To ensure this opportunity, at the end of April, letters will be sent to those who have not yet given to the 2017 effort. In addition, many parishes are continuing to promote the Appeal in the pews.

The Appeal addresses the critical needs of 19 different ministries and programs that are cornerstones to advancing our Catholic Church. These ministries range in scope with some examples being:

▪︎Fuel and Hunger Fund
Provide groceries as well as heating, rent and shelter assistance to children, families in need and the elderly across the Diocese.

Seminarian Education
Fund the cost of room, board, tuition and health insurance for our thirty seminarians.

▪︎Retired Priests
Supplement health insurance and pension for our priests who have given their lives in service to the Church.

▪︎Campus Ministries
Expand opportunities and events for college students to deepen their commitment to the Catholic Church.

▪︎Hispanic Ministry
Empower our Hispanic population to become leaders in their faith communities.

▪︎Youth and Young Adult Ministries
Provide formation opportunities for youth and young adults aimed at community building, prayer, worship, service and education.

▪︎New Evangelization
Build the infrastructure needed to welcome home fallen away Catholics and those who are new to the Faith.

▪︎Segura Educational Initiative for Children
Offer stipends to bi-lingual Latino advocates who serve children in Catholic Schools.

In addition, parishes will receive a portion of the pledges made from their parish through the parish sharing formula. For many parishes, this Appeal has provided added support to parish programs, funding for needed renovations and additional budget money to be used wherever the need is greatest.

Parishioners who have not yet made a commitment to the Appeal can do so by responding to the letter they received, visiting their parish office, contacting the Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese of Richmond at (804) 622-5155 or donating securely online at http://richmondcatholicfoundation.org/giving/annual-appeal/.

(Alex Previtera, CFRE is the Director of Development for the Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese of Richmond).