The Annual Catholic Appeal theme, “Thy Will Be Done” is more than a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a response to God and an expression of desire to align ourselves with His will and to share our gifts with others.
The appeal begins in parishes Saturday, April 17, and runs through Sunday, May 2. The goal is $14.5 million. Each year, the Annual Catholic Appeal in the Archdiocese of St. Louis supports a wide range of programs and ministries that are essential to people throughout the archdiocese. Supported ministries include outreach to people who are homeless and others living in poverty, Catholic education, faith formation, defending life and support for vocations, among others. The appeal provides not only direct support to the material needs of people, but spiritual nourishment as well.
ACA chair Marsha Stocker said that many ministries have seen an increase in need this past year because of the pandemic’s impact on so many people.
Tying that into the theme of “Thy Will Be Done,” the Lord’s Prayer, Stocker said, “is a universal prayer that so many people can relate to. Praying ‘thy will be done’ is the best thing we can pray right now. This year with the pandemic, and the difficulties people have been going through, we give everything over to the Father. We know that we cannot do it by ourselves — we need the Father’s help.”
One of the greatest gifts of serving the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation is the joy of witnessing happy children in their classrooms learning and growing in their relationship with Jesus and one another, said executive director Sharon Gerken.
“I’ve witnessed their parents’ deep commitment and desire to provide their children with the gift of a quality, faith-based education and thanks to so many generous donors and partners, including the Annual Catholic Appeal, together we are making this a reality,” said Gerken.
The Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation, which is slated to receive $100,000 from the Annual Catholic Appeal, is one of several areas of education funded by the appeal, including elementary school assistance, archdiocesan high schools, parochial high schools, special education and more.
The foundation provides need-based tuition assistance scholarships to families attending parochial or private elementary schools. During the pandemic, Today and Tomorrow ensured no child was forced to leave their chosen faith-based elementary school due to lack of scholarships. TTEF awarded more than $9 million in scholarships to more than 4,000 local children for the 2020-21 school year.
Gerken noted that it is the teamwork of board members, donors and partners who enthusiastically and passionately respond “yes” in supporting the mission and children Today and Tomorrow serves and the mission of Catholic education.
“The ACA is the ‘yes’ that keeps us all moving forward to achieve earthly and heavenly goals,” she said. “Together, our ‘yes’ has and will continue to change the lives of children through the gift of faith-based education, providing hope and opportunity for a bright future.”
of St. Louis
At Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the pandemic increased the depth and breadth of need, and in many cases changed how to minister to people. But the mission — to serve people in need, work to improve social conditions and call others to these works — stayed the same.
“We are grateful for our partnership with the Annual Catholic Appeal,” said Theresa Ruzicka, president of Catholic Charities of St. Louis. “Our brothers and sisters who turn to Catholic Charities and our eight agencies in their moments of greatest need benefit greatly from the generosity of ACA supporters.”
Both before and during the pandemic:
• Children were connected to loving foster and forever families.
• Senior adults were cared for and reminded that they matter.
• Pregnant women in crisis, including those struggling to overcome substance use disorders, were welcomed and provided resources.
• Women and children fleeing domestic abuse were sheltered, protected and empowered.
• Families new to our country were embraced and supported in their vulnerability.
• Children scarred from trauma were comforted with counseling, care and acceptance.
• People experiencing homelessness received compassion, guidance and housing support.
Any seminarian will tell you that their priestly discernment is done through the will of God, the Father. Second-year theologian Jeff Fennewald also sees how the generosity of those who give to the Annual Catholic Appeal makes his discernment process that much easier in focusing on God’s will.
“Because of the generosity of the people of the Archdiocese of St. Louis (through the ACA) and how it goes toward our formation, that has definitely made some men’s discernment much easier,” said Fennewald, who is serving this year at Assumption Parish in O’Fallon. “They are able to focus more on God’s will, versus ‘Am I going to be able to manage this by taking out more student loans?’”
Each year, seminarians are invited to speak at parishes across the archdiocese during ACA pledge weekends, especially those parishes that do not have seminarians assigned there. Fennewald appreciates seeing their faithful support when they have a chance to meet seminarians and hear about their vocational calling.
“They want to support us, but don’t always know how to be involved in the formation of priests,” he said. When they see the direct impact the Annual Catholic Appeal has on the seminary, “their generosity comes from their desire to support us.”
During his time serving in parish life, Fennewald said he’s noticed that people sometimes think the priests, deacons and seminarians are “too busy” and are afraid to take up their time. “I want to convey to the people I meet, whether in the parking lot or the back of church, that I am there to be with them, and there’s no other place I would rather be. That’s what any good Father would want — for the people to God to know that they are not too busy for them.”
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The financial goal of the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal is $14.5 million. Approximately 91 cents of every dollar raised goes back into the community in the form of direct services. The appeal will be conducted in most parishes the weekends of April 17-18, April 24-25 and May 1-2. To learn more about the Annual Catholic Appeal, visit aca.archstl.org.
HUMAN DIGNITY AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Catholic Charities $1,350,000
Respect Life, Family and Social Responsibility $570,000
Regina Cleri Priests Retirement Home $350,000
Hispanic Ministry $200,000
Peace and Justice Commission $140,000
Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent $100,000
Rural Parish Clinic $100,000
Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service $90,000
Criminal Justice Ministry $70,000
Office of Racial Harmony $65,000
Immigrant and Refugee Support $35,000
Parish Food Pantries $35,000
Archbishop’s Charity Fund $30,000
Peter and Paul Community Services, Shelter at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish $15,000
Elementary School Assistance $2,000,000
Archdiocesan High Schools $1,170,000
Continuing Formation of Priests $440,000
Special Education $300,000
Newman Centers on College Campuses $265,000
Parochial High Schools $260,000
Permanent Diaconate $135,000
Today and Tomorrow Educational Fund $100,000
Right Start $60,000
Care for Active and Retired Priests $780,000
Catholic Deaf Ministry $100,000
St. Charles Lwanga Center $100,000
Catholic St. Louis Magazine $80,000
Basilica of St. Louis, King of France $50,000
Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis $50,000
Catholic Renewal Center $50,000
Rural Parish Workers $50,000
Messengers of Peace Mission Work $25,000
CULTURE OF LEADERSHIP
Archdiocesan Seminary $525,000
Stewardship and Development Support for Parishes, Schools and Agencies $400,000
Vocation Programs $380,000
Evangelization and Discipleship $250,000
Natural Family Planning $210,000
ACA Urgent Needs Fund $205,000
Religious Formation $200,000
Catholic Youth Apostolate $120,000
Parish Emergency Assistance Fund $90,000
Elementary Teachers Educational Fund $75,000
High School Stewardship Essay Program $55,000
Support for Religious Orders $25,000
Annual Catholic Appeal Expenses $1,500,000
Reserve for Unpaid Pledges $870,000
Archdiocesan Services $435,000
2021 APPEAL GOAL: $14,500,000
* None of the money raised by the Annual Catholic Appeal is used to defend or settle criminal or civil lawsuits related to the clergy abuse scandal.