That dollar goes further than you think

Annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal benefits parishes, nearly 40 ministries and much more

It’s a question you’ve probably asked yourself every year: how far does that money you give to the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal really go?

Or another: Will it really make a difference if I give to the ACA or not?

Well, we have answers for you: Really far, and yes, it makes all the difference in the world.

The Annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal officially launches April 14 and as parishioners will see in the video that plays at their parish, it’ll be a bit different this year – we won’t spoil it for you, but we think you’ll like it.

The ACA benefits nearly 40 ministries within the Archdiocese of Denver, each of which play a crucial part in the operation of the Catholic Church in northern Colorado as a whole.

As Father Dollins, Vicar General for the archdiocese, puts it, it does fund some of the less glamorous parts of Church administration, but in doing so, it supports all ministries and allows them to focus on doing what they were created to do: namely, ministering to people and leading them to Christ.

Additionally, “there’s a lot of aspects of the diocese that don’t have the means to do their own fundraising and probably shouldn’t spend time trying to do their own fundraising,” Father Dollins said. “The ministry should be able to just be the ministry.”

Each parish has an ACA fundraising goal based on the total annual offertory for the parish. However, funds raised from the ACA have the potential to benefit parishes, too. A two-level parish rebate program was implemented several years ago as an incentive for parishes to encourage parishioners to give to the ACA.

“If everyone’s pulling to give to their parish, not only are they giving to the nearly 40 ministries, but at a certain level, a percentage goes back to the parish and helps them as well,” Father Dollins explained. “It’s a win for the whole diocese and for the whole parish.”

If a parish exceeds their goal for the ACA, 50 cents of every dollar raised after that goes back to the parish. For the parishes that have a harder time meeting their goal, they also have the opportunity for a rebate if they beat the amount of money raised for the ACA the previous year. If they do that, they get 25 cents of every dollar raised after that number.

New features to this year’s ACA include the nine Choir of Angels giving levels, which designates different levels of giving with an angelic title. Additionally, the online giving option has been fine-tuned to provide the same convenience as the most popular online payment systems and makes it easier for those who would like to work an ACA donation into their monthly budget. In fact, Father Dollins encourages people to switch to giving year-round instead of the traditional five months.

“Why not make the ACA a recurring monthly gift that fits into the way you do the rest of your budget?” he said.

We get it – Catholics are asked to give a lot throughout the course of any given year, and it’s easy to see the ACA as just another ask that bears no significance. However, for the faithful in the Archdiocese of Denver, it’s important to see the needs of the larger Church and how far that dollar actually goes.

“It’s really easy to be focused on ‘me’ and tithing at your own parish, but [we are all] part of a larger Church that has expansive needs,” Father Dollins said. “I might be in a small town that doesn’t have a need to feed the poor, but the Cathedral does. I can’t necessarily help the poor where I’m at, but the Church is a lot bigger than my one location.”

Featured image by Nissa LaPoint

COMING UP: Because of You: A foundation for mission

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This is the first part of a series of articles showcasing the many ways the annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal enables and furthers the divinely-instated mission of the Archdiocese of Denver.

In this Year of Mercy, the time is approaching when Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila appears on TV and projector screens in parishes across Northern Colorado and introduces the annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal (ACA).

The theme for this year’s ACA is “Because of You,” a simple way of saying that none of the ministry and work carried out each year by the Archdiocese of Denver would be possible without the faithful of Northern Colorado and those who generously give to the ACA.

“God has put in our hearts a desire to perform spiritual and corporal works of mercy. When we do not have opportunities to do them, we can connect to the works others are doing by making a donation,” said Father Randy Dollins, vicar general of the archdiocese. “‘Because of you’ reminds us that even though we might not be the person directly performing the work, it would not be possible were it not for the donations that support the existence of the ministry in the first place.”

There are a lot of moving parts in the Archdiocese of Denver that allow for it do to the work it does on a daily basis. Parishes play an integral role in the mission of the archdiocese, and are a part of a bigger structural system in place that lays the foundation for the mission to happen, one that wouldn’t exist without the ACA.

Strong foundations

The offices that make up the Pastoral Center are referred to as the Archbishop’s Curia, and their mission is as such: to assist the archbishop in the administration of the archdiocese, communicate his vision, support his pastors and personnel, and bear witness to Christ and the Church’s teachings through a lived example. 

Father Dollins is the moderator of the Curia, and he said that the work done by the offices Pastoral Center is the unseen part of ministry.

“The work that’s being done by the Pastoral Center supported by the ACA forms a foundation underneath the building where all the ministry can happen,” Father Dollins said. “The ministry doesn’t just happen without all of these other support structures.”

The work of the Pastoral Center and all of the support provided to parishes is made possible each year through the Archbishop's Catholic Appeal. (Photo by James Baca/Denver Catholic)

The work of the Pastoral Center and all of the support provided to parishes is made possible each year through the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal. (Photo by James Baca/Denver Catholic)

Father Dollins also said that the Pastoral Center and all of its teams and offices are here to support all 109 parishes in the diocese.

“Parishes have a much bigger staff available to them than they do at their own parishes,” he said.

The ways in which the Curia supports parishes are many, Father Dollins said. For example, the Human Resources department at the Pastoral Center helps parishes with their own human resources operations, training business managers and creating hiring and screening procedures for all parishes to use.

Connections and community

With the recognition that parish communications are integral to the churches health and mission, the Office of Communications at the Curia launched the Denver Parish Connect initiative. Today, 73 separate parishes or archdiocesan ministries have taken advantage of one or more of these services. The Office of Communications offers free digital tools, on-site training to parishes, points parishes to free resources, and helps parish staff adopt best practices from others who may be very effective in a particular area.

To introduce this initiative, two free training sessions were held for staff from 41 different parishes at the Saint John Paul II Center. A highlight of the Denver Parish Connect initiative has been the widespread adoption of Flocknote which allows pastors and parish staff the ability to text or send digital newsletters to their communities. Additionally, other parishes have websites or newsletters for the first time.

Many parishes have reported having clear and reliable channels for the first time. “We’re making people feel like they’re truly welcome because we’re meeting people where they’re at by showing up on a text message or in their email,” said Sarah Johnson, communication coordinator for St. Vincent and St. Mary of the Crown parishes in Carbondale. “It’s a great tool in our toolbox to allow us to better build community and make people feel like they are included and invited to be a part of our parish community.”

“These least brothers of mine”

Another manner in which the Curia supports parishes is through its various ministries. One of the most crucial of these is the Office of Hispanic Ministries and Centro San Juan Diego, headed by executive director Luis Alvarez. Latinos account for more than half of those in the pews in the archdiocese, and the goal of these two entities is to integrate the Latino population more fully into not only the life of the Church, but also society as a whole.

“‘Because of you’ reminds us that even though we might not be the person directly performing the work, it would not be possible were it not for the donations that support the existence of the ministry in the first place.”

Alvarez cites Matthew 25:40 as the basis for his office’s ministry, in which Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

“We are serving a portion of the population who, in many senses, qualifies as the ‘the least’ because they’re strangers in a strange land,” Alvarez said. “The Office of Hispanic Ministries and Centro San Juan Diego help the archbishop live out his mission for this portion of his flock.”

Centro San Juan Diego is home to many classes, courses and ministries for Latinos. They offer everything from accredited college degrees to faith formation classes to family ministry certifications. Last year, they also helped to make all Natural Family Planning methods available in Spanish for parishes and marriage preparation instructors to use. 

Though Centro San Juan Diego is where a lot of the ministries and classes happen, it doesn’t all happen there, Alvarez said. The Office of Hispanic Ministries makes a point to go to parishes and offer training there, and Alvarez often meets with pastors and collaborates with them to address any needs they may have when it comes to their own Hispanic ministries.

“The people contributing to the ACA are helping to reach out to these people who otherwise might not be tended to,” Alvarez said.

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