Alex Previtera, Special to The Catholic Virginian

During the weekends of March 10-11 and 17-18, the Diocese of Richmond conducted the in-pew gift phase of the 2018 Annual Diocesan Appeal. These critical weekends allowed pastors and parish Appeal volunteers the opportunity to ask parishioners for their support during Mass. These weekends area significant contributor to the success of past Appeals.

Based upon the urgent needs of our Catholic Church, the goal for this year’s Appeal is $3,117,096, which is the most challenging goal ever for the Annual Diocesan Appeal. As of Tuesday, March 13, early momentum was quickly being built with nearly 5,000 individuals and families contributing over $1.4 million to this year’s effort. It’s important to note that nearly all of these gifts occurred before the first in-pew weekend.

This year’s theme — Building Our Family of Faith — is inspired by two sources. The first is Galatians 6:10: “So, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” The second is from Pope Francis and his reflection during the Feast of the Holy Family in 2017: “Christian families are missionary families. …They are missionary in everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith!” This theme carries over into the Appeal in the ways this effort advances our parishes, supports our clergy, and grows our faith.

Bishop Barry C. Knestout said, “When we think about what the Annual Diocesan Appeal is at its core, it is not a natural association to think of it as a ministry. When examined closely, however, you will find it is exactly that. It is a ministry that significantly advances other ministries and programs in our parishes and our larger Church.”

Some of the cornerstone ministries supported by the Appeal are seminarian education, youth/young adult ministry, and the Fuel & Hunger Fund. As Appeal funding continues to support the urgent annual needs facing these areas and many others, new opportunities arise to help advance the mission of our Church.

One new area being funded by the Annual Diocesan Appeal is priest support. This funding helps the diocese increase the availability of five priests assigned in various roles throughout the diocese.

By offsetting a portion of their benefits and salaries, the diocese is able to support a priest serving parishes with Spanish Masses, a priest serving as a hospital chaplain, and a priest serving at nursing homes. In addition, two priests are able to work with parishes that are unable to pay full salary and benefits for a second priest.

“Without this Appeal, and without the support of our pastors, volunteers, and lay faithful, we would simply not be able to meet the critical needs our Church faces. I would like to say thank you to all of those who joined us in the early stages of the Appeal and to express my deep appreciation for everything they have done for their parishes and for our larger Catholic Church through this effort. I would also like to offer a word of encouragement to those who are praying on their decision as I am hopeful they too will join us in this ministry,” Bishop Knestout said.

For more information on the various ministries the Appeal supports, or to find out how you can contribute to the 2018 Annual Diocesan Appeal, please visit: http://richmondcatholicfounda

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