First $1 million raised from this year’s Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal will go to parishes

Your support will help alleviate financial hardships parishes face due to COVID-19

It’s a question you probably ask yourself every year: How far does the money you give to the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal really go?

The answer is simple: Really far, and, this year especially, it truly will make all the difference in the world.

The annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal (ACA) officially launches the weekend of April 25. 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. Last year’s appeal raised more than $10 million in donations, which were invested directly into those ministries.

“The annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal takes on new meaning this year as our ministries are experiencing unprecedented demand due to COVID-19 while our funding has declined sharply during the shutdown,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila wrote in a letter to the archdiocese. “We need your support. The Appeal funds nearly 40 ministries, making it one of the most effective ways you can have an immediate impact on our faith community.  Your gift educates our children, forms future priests, helps those in need, and sustains our parish communities in this crisis.”

This year, to help alleviate financial hardships parishes are facing due to the pandemic, the first $1 million raised for the ACA will go towards an Emergency Parish Relief Fund. This money will help parishes continue to operate and carry out their ministries, which remain as vital as ever. Parishes are proving their creativity and fervor for sharing the Gospel even amid these difficult times, and they’re staying very busy.

Monsignor Bernie Schmitz, a retired priest who served as the Vicar for Clergy for the Archdiocese of Denver for several years, was acting as a liaison between parishes and the ACA campaign before the pandemic. Through this, he’s observed firsthand the ways parishes continue to serve their communities, and as a former pastor himself, he understands the harsh reality that parishes are facing right now and why they need all the support they can get.

“[The priests’] natural inclination is to go and help people,” Msgr. Schmitz said. “They’re trying to find ways to help the best they can. The priests are being priests.

“It’s a way to say, ‘I’m with you.’”

As Father Randy Dollins, Vicar General for the archdiocese, puts it, the ACA 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-tier 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 percent 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 percent of every dollar raised after that number.

In 2019, 42 parishes received rebates at the 50 percent level and 33 parishes received rebates at the 25 percent level, for a total of more than $700,000 going back to the parishes.

Traditionally, the ACA campaign runs for five months, but online giving makes it both convenient and easy to set up monthly recurring gifts. 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.

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.”

Visit archden.org/donate to make your gift today.
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COMING UP: Care for Her Act: A common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies

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The pro-life community is often accused of only being pro-birth; however, a congressman from Nebraska is seeking to not only bring more visibility to the countless organizations which provide care for women experiencing crisis pregnancies through birth and beyond, but to also imitate that care at the federal level and enshrine it into law.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who serves the first congressional district in Nebraska, is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill that’s been in the works since last year. The overall goal of the bill is to “[commit] to care for that journey of life through a complementary set of services whereby the government makes a decided choice on behalf of the life of the unborn child and meeting the needs of the expectant mother,” Rep. Fortenberry told the Denver Catholic.

The Care For Act seeks to accomplish this through four basic provisions: A $3,600 tax credit for unborn children which would apply retroactively after the child is born, in addition to the existing tax credit for children; a comprehensive assessment and cataloguing of the programs and resources that are available to expectant mothers; providing federal grants to advance maternal housing, job training mentorships and other educational opportunities for expectant mothers; and lastly, offering financial incentives to communities that improve maternal and child health outcomes.

The Biden Administration recently indicated that they’ll be removing the Hyde Amendment in next year’s budget, which has historically been in place to prohibit pubic funds from going to abortions. The Care for Her Act would circumvent this to some degree, and it would also test whether Rep. Fortenberry’s dissenting colleagues who have in the past expressed that women should be cared for throughout their pregnancies and beyond are willing to stand by their words.

While the conversation around pregnancy and women’s health often centers around abortion, Rep. Fortenberry intentionally crafted the Care for Her Act to not be against abortion, per se, but rather for women and their babies.

“Abortion has caused such a deep wound in the soul of America,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “However, the flip side of this is not only what we are against, because it is so harmful, but what are we for? So many wonderful people throughout this country carry the burden of trying to be with women in that vulnerable moment where there is an unexpected pregnancy and show them the gift of what is possible for that child and for that woman. Let’s do that with government policy as well.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill which seeks to provide a community of care for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Even The Washington Post has taken notice of the Care for Her Act. Earlier this year, Rep. Fortenberry introduced the idea to his constituents, and as to be expected, he received mixed feedback. Those who are pro-life were supportive of the idea, while those who support abortions were more apprehensive. Still others shared consternation about what the government ought to or ought not to do, expressing concern about what the Care for Her Act seeks to do.

“My response is, if we’re going to spend money, what is the most important thing? And in my mind, this is it,” Rep. Fortenberry said.

However, he was very encouraged by one response in particular, which for him really illustrates why this bill is so important and needed.

“One woman wrote me and said, ‘Jeff, I had an abortion when I was young. But if I had this complement of services and commitment of community around me, I would have made another decision,'” Rep. Fortenberry recalled. “And I said ‘yes.’ That’s why we are doing this. For her.”

So far, Rep. Fortenberry has been able to usher support from a number of women representatives on his side of the aisle. He is hopeful, though, that support could come from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Is it possible this could be bipartisan? I would certainly hope so, because it should transcend a political divide,” he explained. “We, of course, stand against abortion because it is so detrimental to women and obviously the unborn child. At the same time though, I think that others could join us who maybe don’t have the fullness of our perspective, who want to see the government actually make a choice on behalf of protecting that unborn life.”

Amidst the politically polarizing discussions about pregnancy and unborn life, the Care for Her act is a common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies. It offers women facing an unexpected pregnancy the chance to experience hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and make a life-giving decision for both herself and her child.

“I’m excited by this,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “I think it opens a whole new set of imaginative possibilities for America, a transformative ideal that again makes this moment of vulnerability when there is an unexpected pregnancy, our chance, our commitment as a community of care.”