The Archdiocese of St. Louis’ Annual Catholic Appeal supports a wide range of programs and ministries that are essential to so many people throughout St. Louis and surrounding areas.
Examples include support for active and retired priests; adult faith formation efforts; Catholic education assisting children with a sense of purpose and value; parish food pantries serving people who are hungry; programs that teach respect for human life; vocations programs, which help youth and young adults discern a vocation to the priesthood or religious life; support for youth ministry; and more.
The goal of the 2022 Annual Catholic Appeal is $15 million. Approximately 91 cents of every dollar raised goes back into the community in direct services.
Dr. Michael Conoyer, 2022 appeal chairman, said that the ACA is a prime example of evangelization. “It allows us as a unified archdiocese to say we’re Catholic and we’re sharing this (support) across the community,” he said. He added that hearing stories of individuals who have been positively impacted makes it a compelling reason to support these ministries, offices and agencies.
“You can see so many stories … maybe it was an educational opportunity someone got, or health care service someone was able to receive and couldn’t otherwise afford,” Conoyer said. There are so many who benefit from the appeal, he added.
Care for retired priests
Years ago, as pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in St. Charles, Father Patrick Ryan saw a need in the community for an adult day care program. At the time, there weren’t any programs of the kind in the St. Charles area. He saw the need among some of his parishioners and helped open St. Elizabeth Adult Day Care Center in the former school building.
The effort fits well with a mantra he’s carried throughout his priesthood: “The Church doesn’t have a mission, the mission has a Church. The mission was given to us in the acts of the apostles. Teach the message, form a community, reach out in worship and prayer and do moral formation.”
Years later, after experiencing two strokes and a prostate cancer diagnosis, Father Ryan found that same mission very much alive in the care that he’s been receiving as a resident of Regina Cleri retirement home for priests in Shrewsbury.
A priest for 51 years, Father Ryan, 77, moved to Regina Cleri in 2020. He knew he needed to live somewhere that would be able to assist him with his health care needs, while also being able to continue his ministry as a priest.
In his retirement, he assisted with celebrating Masses at several parishes and a senior residence, until the second stroke left him unable to drive. Father Ryan still remains active at Regina Cleri, leading discussion groups on various topics (pastoral challenges during a pandemic, racism within the Church and the future of parishes in light of All Things New, to name a few) and celebrating Masses.
Father Ryan said the community of priests and staff are like a family to him. “I consider this home,” Father Ryan said. “I feel like I am still able to do things. I’ll write letters to former parishioners and friends. I receive calls from them, too. This is my family. If I get sick, they take care of me.”
Retired priests instinctively need to be able to continue their ministry to others, Father Ryan said. “There are years of experience at Regina Cleri, and the goal is to make the knowledge accessible,” he said. “We still need to be sent on mission; we still need to know we can make a difference.”
Educating God’s special children
Rose Daub sat in a circle with several first-grade classmates to assemble boxes for their valentines. She proudly showed off her masterpiece — an alligator — to her paraprofessional, Becky DeMere, who assisted her with the group activity at Sacred Heart School in Florissant.
Rose, who has Down syndrome, is among a legion of students with special needs receiving a Catholic education alongside their peers in schools across the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It’s all part of One Classroom’s mission to bring inclusive education for children with special needs to parish schools.
Sacred Heart School in Florissant received a grant this year from One Classroom to implement a plan that offers accommodations for Rose, including the services of a paraprofessional in the classroom.
Tony and LeeAnn Armitage began One Classroom
, a nonprofit organization that helps fund inclusive education at Catholic schools for students with special needs. The Armitages, who have a child, Christopher, who has Down syndrome, piloted an inclusion program in 2015 at their parish school, Mary, Queen of Peace in Webster Groves. The program has since grown to include 10 Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. An additional five schools have also developed an inclusive classroom model with the assistance of One Classroom.
“We’re trying to help our Catholic schools to say, ‘Yes’ to serving kids,” with different abilities, Tony Armitage said. One Classroom offers a consultation with each school to understand its goals and challenges in providing education services. The needs may vary, including intellectual or physical disabilities, trauma and students whose first language is not English. A plan is developed to help fill the gaps, so to speak, and provide schools with operational support.
One Classroom focuses on an inclusive service delivery model, which may include curriculum modifications, support from the general education teacher, peer students, a teaching aide or specialized teacher. This approach allows the school to meet the student where they are, rather than expecting the student to adapt to the standard structure of a classroom.
Rose’s mom, Erin Daub, began looking into inclusive special education and the work of One Classroom from the time her daughter was an infant. Sacred Heart School has a long history with special education services, dating back to the 1950s, when the late Rose Gronemeyer and others educated children with special needs.
The Daubs have two older daughters, a sixth-grader at Sacred Heart and another who is a high school senior, and the family, which has a long history at the parish and school, couldn’t imagine Rose not going there, too.
“It’s been meaningful to see the impact she’s had with other children, their parents and their friends,” Erin Daub said. “It’s important for all of our kids — disabled and typically abled children — to be able to have those interactions with someone who is not like them. It normalizes it, like that’s how it should be.”
Rose’s peers benefit from being together with her in the classroom, said Sacred Heart learning consultant Jessica Ponder. “It’s an opportunity for some real-life lessons,” she said. “Everybody needs different things to be successful in the classroom, and those might not look the same from student to student. They learn how to empathize, and are patient and loving with her.”
Armitage said he sees the work of inclusive education as a matter of Catholic social teaching. The intrinsic value of a human person is based on their formation in the image and likeness of God. Human dignity is also relational, he said. This is most evident in the peer-to-peer relationships that are developed in the classroom and beyond.
“It creates opportunities for peers to live their faith every day and it’s transformative,” he said. “It’s building a truly Catholic community.”
Saint Martha’s Drop-in Center
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a project that had long been in the works for Saint Martha’s Hall: a drop-in center offering information, referrals and support for anyone affected by domestic violence.
“While we were forced to be at reduced capacity, the need for domestic violence services was even heightened,” said Jessica Woolbright, executive director of Saint Martha’s Hall. “That’s when we really put the gas on this project.”
The drop-in center opened Jan. 3 at 4733 Mattis Road, a house on the north side of Assumption Parish’s campus in south St. Louis County that was not in active use. While Saint Martha’s Hall, one of eight Catholic Charities agencies, offers an emergency shelter care program for abused women and their children, the new drop-in center offers another opportunity to reach women who may not need immediate shelter but are still seeking resources. Full-time advocates are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to provide help for women who may be experiencing domestic violence as well as family and friends who want to find resources or learn more.
When visitors walk through the door, they step into a cozy living room, filled with inviting couches and comfortable armchairs. An advocate greets them and invites them to sit down to talk. There’s no paperwork, no formalities — just ears ready to listen to whatever the visitor might want to discuss.
“We just start with a conversation to identify what (a visitor’s) immediate needs are,” said Carla Maley, director of community engagement. “We can connect with a whole bunch of different community resources. And it isn’t just about giving phone numbers — we walk them through it ourselves.”
An adjoining room holds a desk with a phone, laptop and iPad if someone needs a place to apply for jobs or childcare assistance, attend virtual family court hearings or just have a safe space to make uninterrupted phone calls. The next room over is set up especially for kids, with brightly colored chairs around a low table and a wide array of art supplies, books, games and toys. If a woman needs a pick-me-up cup of coffee, there’s a stocked coffee cart; if she needs a snack, there’s a kitchen.
The accessible nature of the drop-in center is an essential part of reaching a wider range of people affected by domestic violence.
“People can easily find us. We don’t create barriers — they don’t have to call us for an appointment, there’s no waitlist,” Maley said. “It really is that drop-in approach — come sit with someone if you’re ready to talk.”
Serving family members and friends of women in domestic violence situations is an important part of the drop-in center’s ministry, too. Anyone experiencing domestic violence needs a strong support system, and advocates can help equip loved ones with resources and tools to best support that person. “So many families want to do the right thing, but they don’t know what it is,” Woolbright said.
Just the drop-in center’s very presence in the south St. Louis County community can help further the agency’s mission, Woolbright said.
“It’s our calling to not just help that individual woman whoshows up at our door, whether it’s here or at the shelter, but to increase awareness (of domestic violence),” Woolbright said. “We’ve increased the awareness for the Assumption community, for the south St. Louis County community, for the state of Missouri. It has a ripple effect.”
The ACA’s 2022 theme is “Brothers and Sisters All” — which perfectly fits the way Saint Martha’s staff views anyone who walks through the center’s door.
“Everything we do is because we respect the dignity of every life in front of us,” Woolbright said.
Brothers and Sisters All
The theme of the 2022 Annual Catholic Appeal is “Brothers and Sisters All.” The work of the Archdiocese of St. Louis "is made possible through the generosity of the Church in St. Louis,” said Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski. Catholics are “called as God’s people to take responsibility for the Church, to further the mission of Jesus in our world,” he added. “We are Jesus’ eyes and ears and hands and feet in continuing that mission in the world.”
The Annual Catholic Appeal is the primary way in which the people of the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis come together to reach out to others in many ways, said the archbishop, adding that the ACA unites the Church and is a positive force for good.
The appeal funds programs including support for active and retired priests; adult faith formation efforts; Catholic education assisting children with a sense of purpose and value; parish food pantries serving people who are hungry; programs that teach about the respect for human life; vocations programs, which help youth and young adults discern a vocation to the priesthood or religious life; support for youth ministry; and more.
Whether we donate to the ACA or are a recipient of services, “we’re finding Jesus Christ in one way or another,” Archbishop Rozanski said. “In giving and receiving, we truly are brothers and sisters in the Lord.”
How to donate
The financial goal of the 2022 Annual Catholic Appeal is $15 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 23-24, April 30-May 1 and May 7-8. To learn more about the Annual Catholic Appeal, visit aca.archstl.org.
HUMAN DIGNITY AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Catholic Charities $1,500,000
Respect Life, Family and Social Responsibility $450,000
Regina Cleri Priests Retirement Home $418,000
Hispanic Ministry $200,000
Office of Peace and Justice $140,000
Rural Parish Clinic $125,000
Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service $125,000
Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent $100,000
Criminal Justice Ministry $85,000
Office of Racial Harmony $65,000
Parish Food Pantries $50,000
Immigrant and Refugee Support $40,000
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 and Parochial High Schools $1,410,000
Continuing Formation for Priests $440,000
Special Education $300,000
Newman Centers on College Campuses $267,000
Today and Tomorrow Educational Fund $150,000
Permanent Diaconate $100,000
One Classroom $20,000
Care for Active and Retired Priests $860,000
Adult Faith Formation $335,000
Catholic Deaf Ministry $110,000
St. Charles Lwanga Center $100,000
Catholic St. Louis Magazine $80,000
Catholic Renewal Center $60,000
Basilica of St. Louis, King of France $50,000
Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis $50,000
Rural Parish Workers $50,000
Messengers of Peace Mission Work $25,000
CULTURE OF LEADERSHIP
Archdiocesan Seminary $525,000
Evangelization and Discipleship $425,000
Stewardship and Development Support for Parishes, Schools and Agencies $400,000
Vocation Programs $380,000
Natural Family Planning $210,000
Religious Formation $200,000
Parish Emergency Assistance Fund $100,000
Elementary Teachers Educational Fund $75,000
High School Stewardship Essay Program $55,000
Office of Youth Ministry $20,000
Support for Religious Orders $10,000
Annual Catholic Appeal Expenses $1,500,000
Reserve for Unpaid Pledges $900,000
Archdiocesan Services $450,000
* 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.