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 yes, it makes all the difference in the world.
The annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal officially launches April 27. 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.
“This year, I’d like to stress how your gift will have a real and lasting impact in the lives of others and in our world,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila wrote in a letter to the archdiocese. “Your willingness to imitate Christ’s life of service to all, through your charity to the appeal, will shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, protect the unborn, instruct our youth, evangelize college students, nourish vocations, comfort the elderly and draw many to a deeper union with Christ.”
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-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.
Last year, 46 parishes received rebates at the 50 percent level and 53 parishes received rebates at the 25 percent level, for a total of more than $735,000 going back to the parishes.
This year’s ACA also continues the Nine Choir of Angels Giving Society, which designates different levels of giving with an angelic title. Last year, 2,500 donors joined this distinction by giving a gift of $1,000 or more. 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. Last year, 900 contributors supported the works of the Church through the monthly recurring gift option. 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.
Amid the current Church crisis, Archbishop Aquila reassures the faithful that he and the Archdiocese of Denver are committed to full transparency and change within the Church. The Promise webpage (archden.org/promise) contains a wealth of information about how the archdiocese has handled allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in the past, and in February, the archdiocese voluntarily allowed for an independent review of all priest files related to the sexual abuse of minors.
No funds raised from the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal are ever used for legal expenses.
“One hundred percent of your appeal gift will support ministry operations and … no appeal funds were, are or ever will be used for legal expenses or settlements,” Archbishop Aquila wrote. “Donate to the appeal knowing that your gift will be prudently invested in programs that evangelize our faith and serve others.”
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.”