Alex Previtera, Special to The Catholic Virginian

With the support of 13,174 donors across the Diocese of Richmond, the 2018 Annual Diocesan Appeal has, as of March 27, raised $3,378,331, exceeding its goal of $3,117,096. In addition, 66 of 145 parishes have exceeded their targets with many more nearing them. At this pace, the Appeal is on track to garner the highest amount ever raised.

Although the Appeal is over goal, it is still gaining a strong response from parishioners. In fact, the list of parishes that have exceeded their targets increases daily. On April 24, letters from Bishop Barry C. Knestout and pastors will be sent to previous Appeal contributors who have not contributed to the 2018 effort. In addition, a significant number of parishes are continuing to promote the Appeal at Mass and the diocese has several follow-up activities planned to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to participate.

The 2018 Appeal addresses the increased needs of many key ministries and programs:

Priest support 

New 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. Two priests are also able to work with parishes that are unable to pay full salary and benefits for a second priest.

Home Mission Grant Program 

Through the Annual Appeal and annual collections, $618,100 has been granted to 55 mission parishes for HVAC work, paving, a mobile unit for Christian education, window replacement, as well as general maintenance and repairs. These funds have been essential in helping our mission and smaller parishes maintain their facilities.

Christian formation: Lay Ecclesial Ministry Institute (LEMI) 

This four-year program provides education and ministry formation to those who hold leadership positions (paid or volunteer) in catechesis-related ministries in our parishes and Catholic schools. Forty-eight lay ministry leaders are currently enrolled in LEMI with 24 already commissioned.

The cost for one person to go through the program to attain a master’s degree in theology from a Catholic university is $15,000. The cost for a person to go through the full program to attain a certificate of study from the University of Dayton is $10,000. In both cases, 100 percent of the funding is provided through the Annual Appeal.

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 renovations, and additional budget money to be used wherever the need is greatest.

Making a gift is easy and convenient. For more information on the ministries the Appeal supports or to find out how you can contribute to the Appeal, please visit: http://richmondcatholicfoundation.org/giving/annual-appeal/.