Special to The Anchor
FALL RIVER, Mass. — Faithful Catholics across the Diocese of Fall River have once again sought the Face of God in their neighbors and responded with love, generosity and compassion. The books have closed on the 2014 Catholic Charities Appeal for the Diocese of Fall River, and the results confirm the spirit of shared purpose that defines the work of a community of believers.
Inspired by the words and actions of the Holy Family, Pope Francis, clergy and laity have demonstrated extraordinary generosity for the needy throughout the diocese. The $4,207,920.45 total was the third highest total of donations in the 73-year history of the Appeal.
Figures for the number of donors in the 84 parishes are complete and it appears that more than 31,000 individuals and businesses were moved to support those in need in the diocese.
The focus of the Appeal proved compelling enough to inspire sacrificial giving once again. “When you consider the state of the economy nationally, and especially in southeastern Massachusetts with our two largest cities of Fall River and New Bedford continuing to experience a slow recovery from the economic downturn of recent years, it is an amazing example of a Christ-centered faith for those who do contribute and to their authentic witness to the good works made possible by the Appeal and the agencies it sponsors,” said James Campbell director of the diocesan Development Office, of which the Catholic Charities Appeal is a part.
The results of the Appeal showed amazing accomplishments across the diocese. Ten parishes throughout the region had double-digit increases over last year’s Appeal total, with one parish exceeding a 40 percent increase, and nine others with more than 10 percent increases. Twenty-four of the 84 parishes in the diocese had increases over their 2013 total.
“I believe that several factors helped to distinguish our Appeal in the mind of our donors,” continued Campbell. “First, there is a genuine respect for the work being done on behalf of the poor by the Diocese of Fall River in meeting the needs of those to whom it ministers through its various agencies and apostolates, and secondly, our efficiency, as measured by the fact that 93 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to these agencies and apostolates to address the needs of those who turn to us for assistance during their time of need. We are very proud of the sound stewardship which has always been a benchmark of the Appeal.”
Bishop George W. Coleman, as he visited throughout the diocese, was moved by the work done on behalf of the those served by the Appeal. “I am so proud of our priests and the lay leaders in every parish who advocate so strenuously on behalf of the poor,” he said. “We act, not only with professionalism and diligence, but also out of a spirit of love. This is what distinguishes our services and the people feel that. The response of a great number of people, parishes, and businesses in the Diocese of Fall River to our annual Appeal demonstrates an admirable degree of respect for the dignity of the individual.”
Campbell expressed gratitude to the many pastors and parish workers who made the Appeal successful. “Many pastors’ stepped up to the challenge of bettering their parishes’ results and we are so thankful. I also want to thank our three teen-age speakers at this year’s kickoffs. Victoria Johnson from Apponequet High School, Kate Franklin from Bishop Feehan, and Owen Leary from Bishop Stang were inspiring examples of young people who are animated about their faith and recognize that their faith impels them to act on behalf of those in need. If they are representative of our future, then the future is bright indeed,” said Campbell.
“I want to express my thanks to so many parish assistants for doing the little things that lead to success. Preparing the mailings, analyzing initial responses and preparing follow-up mailings is laborious and time consuming but the results speak well for their efforts.”