As the Bishop’s Annual Appeal heads into the final stretch for donations, the office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement said they have seen a generosity of spirit despite recent scandals in the Church.
That isn’t to say people aren’t angry.
As shockwaves from the sex abuse crisis continue to rock those in the pews, a number of people have chosen to withhold financial support, saying they will not donate to the Church until change has occurred.
Expressing deep sadness and anger that the Church is once again roiled by allegations of abuse and cover-ups, people said they feel betrayed by church leaders.
“I hope the Church will quit talking about the problem and finally resolve it internally once and for all!” one person wrote in an email to the diocese. “The Church needs to feel the financial pain and do without for a while.”
Others, however, continue to give as a committed way to support the mission of the Church, noting that the appeal does not finance the Church hierarchy; rather, it goes toward the very people that Jesus calls on us to help.
One donor said he made a point of giving generously this year — not in spite of, but because of the current crisis that is testing so many people’s faith.
“With all the negativity in the Church right now, we need to stick together and keep making great things happen,” the Upstate parishioner said.
The donor said he was listening to the Lord’s directive to share his blessings and help the diocese do amazing things through the many ministries that are funded by the appeal.
Other people who contribute each year said it is a concrete way to practice the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy.
Since Catholic Charities is a primary recipient, donors to the Bishops Annual Appeal can immediately help feed, clothe and shelter those in need. Contributions also fund prison ministry and help provide emergency relief after natural disasters, such as the recent flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.
Other programs that are served include Catholic schools, vocations, youth and young adults, and ministries that promote the family and pro-life evangelization.
Amanda Kepshire, associate director for the office of Stewardship, said they receive questions each year about where the money goes, and that some people mistakenly think the bishop is the recipient.
Kepshire explained that the annual campaign is called the Bishop’s Appeal because he is the shepherd of the diocese and is appealing to his flock to help their brothers and sisters in Christ.
She stressed that funds do not go to the diocese to help pay bills or to pay the salaries of employees.
“All the money raised gets pushed back out to the diocese to help those in need,” she said. “We need the participation and support of the people to fulfill our Gospel mission.”
The appeal runs through December, so diocesan parishioners still have the chance to donate. Look for an envelope coming in the mail, give during the parish offering, or visit https://sccatholic.org/donate.php.
Miscellany file photo: Kathy Keane, left, a volunteer with Catholic Charities, helps hand out produce at a Fresh Express event in February.