Need is greater than ever for
annual Catholic Charities Appeal

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor

FALL RIVER, Mass. — When the inaugural Catholic Charities Appeal was kicked off in April of 1942 by Bishop James E. Cassidy, the third bishop of the Diocese of Fall River, there was a world war raging.

Today, 77 years later, as the 2018 campaign is about to take wing, there are still wars leaving thousands of brothers and sisters across the diocese in dire need.

The wars today are waged on our city streets; opioid addictions taking the lives of scores of men and women and leaving surviving family members in shatters; children, men and women living wherever they can find the simplest of shelters, not knowing from where their next meal will come, if it comes at all; immigrants who have become pawns in a callous political game; women and children who become innocent victims of domestic abuse and violence; and sick and elderly people in hospitals and homes who have no one to lend them hope or comfort. These are only a few of the “war” victims of today.


So, for the 77th consecutive year faithful across the Diocese of Fall River will be asked to engage in the Corporal Works of Mercy and do what they can to feed the hungry; give water to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; shelter the homeless; and visit the sick and imprisoned.

The Appeal, themed “Sharing Faith and Hope,” will begin on May 1 and run through June 27.

“The Appeal itself has always been a beacon of hope and an example of living our faith to all those residents of the communities the diocese serves; from Mansfield, Easton and the Attleboros through the Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford areas, and extending all the way to Cape Cod and the Islands,” Mike Donly, Charities Appeal director, told The Anchor. “The members of the diocesan community have always been very generous and supportive as they demonstrate their willingness to share what they have with those who have less. They have truly followed the example of the early Christians as expressed in the Acts of the Apostles 2:44-45, ‘Those who believed, shared.’”

Christ Himself told us, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.”

The diocesan Catholic Charities Appeal began in response to the great needs in the area caused by the vicious world war playing out on the international stage.

The country was still reeling from the deadly attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, and Bishop Cassidy felt the need to rally the faithful in the diocese to be there for those who needed it.

The goal was $100,000 and as is usually the case, folks in Southeastern Massachusetts went above and beyond, donating $125,000, which would translate to approximately $2 million today.

Since then the faithful in the Fall River Diocese have consistently gone above and beyond to help their brothers and sisters in need.

The needs may be different today, but they are no less urgent and life-altering and threatening.

The annual Catholic Charities Appeal is the only time during the year when the diocese asks parishioners to assist in ministering to their friends and neighbors in need by contributing what they’re able.

In a letter to all faithful of the Diocese of Fall River Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. said, “Each year at this time I ask for your support of the Catholic Charities Appeal to enable our Diocesan Church to follow Christ’s example to share faith and hope in our time and in our communities.

“Through the Catholic Charities Appeal, faith is shared in our ministry to the sick in all of our area hospitals; in our campus ministry, youth and young adult ministry, and other Faith Formation and educational programs; and in a variety of additional pastoral endeavors.”

“The concept of sharing is central to the focus of the Appeal, as it is central to our faith as Catholics who are aware of the obligation to not only recognize the needs of the vulnerable among us but to offer them assistance and hope,” added Donly. “Parishioners from the 82 parishes as well as businesses and friends of the needy, numbering in excess of 25,000, contributed a record $4.78 million dollars last year to fund myriad ministries and agencies the Appeal’s success makes possible. 

“The donors knew full well that 94 cents of every dollar donated went to fund these agencies and ministries. Since its inception, the Catholic Charities Appeal has raised in excess of $137 million dollars and assisted literally hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children throughout the diocese.”

Some of the services those dollars helped support last year were:

— Emergency sheltering for families with children (376 adults and 630 children);

— Support for the five diocesan homeless shelters, assisting 782 women and men; 

— Permanent supportive housing to 330 individuals; 

— Specialized sheltering for women and children victims of domestic violence; 

— The Sister Rose House which served an amazing 21,954 meals;

— The Solanus Food Pantry which served 8,352 households, providing more than 200,000 pounds of nutritious foods;

— The diocesan Office for Persons with Disabilities, with 267 people receiving assistance; 

— Immigration law programs that represented 631 individuals;

— Hospital chaplaincy that provided 24-hour ministry at all hospitals in the diocese;

— Assistance to keep the Sunday TV Mass, which is viewed by more than 15,000 faithful each week, on the air;

— Assistance to Campus Ministry at area colleges, to assist students in maintaining a faith life during this next stage in their lives.

These are but some of the battles being fought in the current Catholic Charities Appeal efforts, which is, as Bishop da Cunha writes, “Possible only with your help.”

There may not be wars raging in European trenches and on the waters of the South Pacific during the 2018 Catholic Charities Appeal, but there are still daily battles being fought by brothers and sisters on our city streets, in their homes, in our schools, and in health-care facilities across the diocese. The need for the support of diocesan faithful is as great as it has ever been.

“Our Appeal takes place this year as the Fall River Diocese is engaged in strategic planning which has, among its principal goals, the strengthening of ministries and services,” the bishop continued. “The Appeal theme echoes the intent of this planning process to ‘Rebuild in Faith and Hope.’”

Bishop da Cunha further said, “With deep gratitude for the past support of parishioners, businesses and community friends, I come to you again to ask for your contribution to assist us in ‘Sharing the Faith and Hope,’ through this, our 77th annual Catholic Charities Appeal.”

The 2018 Catholic Charities Appeal will run through June 27. Contributions may be made either through a one-time donation or through a pledge, which can be paid over a 10-month period, quarterly, or semi-annually. You may use your credit or debit card as well.

Contributions can be dropped off at any parish in the diocese, made online through the website,, or mailed to the Catholic Charities Appeal Office, P.O. Box 1470, Fall River, Mass. 02722. Please contact that office at 508-675-1311 with any questions.

Additional information is available on the Catholic Charities website. 

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts