2012 Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal pledge weekend is Feb. 18-19

A gift to the 2012 Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal helps the church carry out its mission in South Carolina.
The appeal is a major source of funding for 93 parishes, 23 missions, 32 Catholic schools, agencies and ministries in the Diocese of Charleston.
It provides about one-third of the annual budget, along with investment income and parish assessments.
The goal for 2012 has been raised to $2.75 million because of growth and increasing need for ministry and outreach, said Matt Dwyer, director of stewardship and development.
BSA funds support Catholic Charities, vocations, religious education, youth programs and campus ministry. They also provide support for Catholic education and retired priests.
“Each of the ministries of our annual appeal are at the core of the fundamental mission of our church,” Dwyer said.
“We’re reaching out to the poor, supporting seminarians and priests, helping to educate and bringing Christ to as many people as we can,” Dwyer continued. “The response in 2011 was phenomenal … we raised more than $2.9 million. People throughout the state answered the call many times over, and we’re making that same challenge for 2012.”
Three areas of funding have been increased, Dwyer said. Catholic Charities will receive $800,000, an increase of $100,000. An additional $75,000 will go to support the two diocesan high schools, Bishop England in Charleston and Cardinal Newman in Columbia.
Also, $75,000 will go to create a new parish emergency grant fund.
“It’s specifically for parishes and Catholic institutions that have emergency issues or projects and are struggling,” Dwyer said. “Say part of a parish facility like a heating or cooling unit breaks down, and the expense is beyond their current savings or what they can raise. They’ll now be able to apply for the funds they need.”
Funds also support the diocesan seminarians studying for the priesthood, campus ministry at colleges and universities, and financial support for Catholic school students through the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Tuition Assistance Fund.
Caroline Weisberg, director of Catholic Charities, said the appeal’s support is especially important as the rocky economy leads more people in need to the food pantries and assistance programs offered around the state.
“In the Lowcountry alone, we’re feeding more than 1,000 families a month,” Weisberg said. “Because of the economic situation, the need has grown so much.  The appeal is our main source of funding and very crucial.”
One big success is the Clean of Heart project that provides laundry and shower services to about 200 homeless clients a month in downtown Columbia, Weisberg said.
Other growing programs provide dental care and eye exams for the needy.
To learn more about the Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal and watch videos in English and Spanish, visit www.catholic-doc.org.


1) How does the Diocese operate, and what are its sources of income?
The Diocese operates on three main sources of funding:
Funds from the Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal;
Funds received from parish assessments;
and Funds from income earned on investments. The Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal makes up approximately one-third of the overall income for the Diocese of Charleston.

2) Why does my parish conduct the Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal?
All 115 parishes and missions of the diocese partake in this annual appeal. It is through this appeal that many of the programs supported by the diocese can be offered in our communities today. Without the Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal, thousands of families who rely on support from these programs would go without.

3) Why has the goal for the Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal increased for the last three years?
We are a growing diocese: the number of registered families has increased by 25% over the last ten years. This growth presents new challenges and increased needs. With an increase in funding, we are able to invest substantial resources into programs such as Catholic education and Catholic Charities, and also into campus ministry, parish support, and several other important ministries.