In a hurting economy, Catholics step up with $1.86 million for annual appeal

31 January 2020

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In a year marked by economic hardship across Alberta, parishioners in the Archdiocese of Edmonton  still responded generously to the annual Together We Serve appeal, raising over $1.5 million in support of Catholic charities.

In 2019, the 11 charitable partners in the appeal received a total of $1,513,551, down slightly from the  $1,611,426 they received in 2018.  Total donations of $1,861,694  ̶  some of which went to cover campaign administrative costs and rebates to parishes  ̶   amounted to 93 per cent of the $2-million goal, compared with the 96 per cent of the same overall goal reached last year.

Archbishop Richard Smith said the numbers reflect the challenges that parishioners have faced over the last year as Alberta’s resource-based economy slumped and unemployment rates rose. In addition, many parishes sponsored refugee families in 2019, and several were raising money for church buildings or renovations. On visits to the eight deaneries of the Archdiocese in late 2019, the Archbishop said he found many parishes were also struggling to fund their regular operations in light of declining Sunday collections.

“When I see it in that context – of real personal pain and financial stresses in our communities – I can only conclude that the contributions to our annual appeal in many cases reflect truly sacrificial gifts, and for that I am extremely grateful,” Archbishop Smith said.

“Each of these gifts, regardless of the amount, has helped the Church’s outreach to those in need, both here at home and abroad, and to our institutions that play such a vital role in bringing the light of the Gospel to the world.”

“It may be tempting to think sometimes that we as individuals have little power to make positive change in the world, but in fact, when we are united together in Christ, we can indeed make a great deal of difference, and these results are proof of that.”

The 2019 campaign yielded a record amount rebated to parishes, a total of $141,551. Each parish has its own target for Together We Serve, based on historic giving patterns. If they surpass that target, the extra amount is rebated by the Archdiocese for the parish to spend on their own charitable projects or local initiatives. Of 83 parishes, 31 met or exceeded their parish targets in 2019. Another 26 raised 80 per cent or more of their targets.

The record-breaker this year was St. Peter Parish in Villeneuve, which also includes Calahoo, Mearns, and Rivière Qui Barre, where parishioners raised 264 per cent of their target, followed closely by St. Alphonsus in Edmonton at 225 per cent.

The 2020 Together We Serve campaign begins with the first Sunday in Lent.

Here’s where the money went for Together We Serve 2019:

Catholic Social Services $294,302

Development & Peace Caritas Canada $231,238

Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith $126,129

Evangelization of Peoples $84,086

Needs of the Church in Canada $105,108

Needs of the Church in the Holy Land $126,129

Newman Theological College $ 126,129

Pope’s Pastoral Works $84,086

St. Joseph Priests’ Foundation of Edmonton $84,086

St. Joseph Seminary $ 126,129

St. Joseph’s College, Campus Ministry $126,129

Parish Share (rebates to parishes) $141,551

Administration (salaries, printing, postage) $206,592

Total Raised: $ 1,861,694