The Diocese of Charleston still has a month left in its annual fundraising campaign but has already exceeded the goal of $2.5 million.
Matt Dwyer, director of stewardship and development, said the Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal had collected just over $2.6 million as of October, and could reach $2.75 by the end of the year.
“The positive support of the pastors and the generosity of the people all helped us achieve and surpass our target,” he said.
Dwyer said he isn’t surprised by the numbers because the diocese has seen steady growth over the years.
Also, certain changes were beneficial, such as a video that shows exactly where the money goes and how it is used. Dwyer said each parish showed the video to its parishioners during the campaign.
“They see that the funds are really at the core of what our mission as a church is,” he said.
The appeal is the primary source of funding for all the ministries used by the 92 parishes, 23 missions, 32 Catholic schools, and other agencies in the diocese.
Catholic Charities, which helps the poor and underserved in a multitude of ways, receives the largest amount of funding. One of its most successful new programs is Clean of Heart in Columbia, which provides bathing and laundry facilities to those in need.
Vocations receives the second largest amount, followed by outreach ministry, and youth ministry and school grants. Campus ministry and retired priests are also supported by the appeal.
“These ministries are so critical, they’re so important to carrying out Christ’s mission,” Dwyer said. “We’re just so grateful, so thankful to everyone, especially around Thanksgiving.”
Diocesan schools were helped by the St. Elizabeth Anne Seton endowment, which provides tuition assistance. Campus ministries has also seen an increase in funding in recent years and Jim Grove, director, said it has brought about a number of positive changes as a result.
For one, they have been able to enlarge their retreat program and offer more opportunities for the students to participate in the spiritual events.
They have also been able to purchase books for each campus ministry to help with the changes in liturgy, including copies of the new translation of the Roman Missal.
Grove said he recently began an evangelization effort with high school seniors to help them when they arrive at college, and they are always making plans for the future.
“This gift from the people of the diocese is just tremendous,” he said.
The continued increase in funding is a blessing, Dwyer said, noting that the people recognize that the diocese is supporting Christ’s mission in the right way.
As an added benefit, any parish that exceeds its BSA goal keeps 50 percent of the overage.
Msgr. Richard D. Harris, vicar general and pastor of St. Joseph Church in Columbia, told Dwyer that his parish has been able to use those extra funds to pay off debt.
Next year will be even tougher, when the goal rises to $2.75 million, but Dwyer said he has faith they will reach that one, too.