By supporting important ministries that provide help to countless individuals in the area, Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Louis have once again shown their generosity through a successful Annual Catholic Appeal.
This year, the appeal raised $15.3 million from pledges and gifts for the immediate needs of those ministries. Including estate gifts, anticipated matching gifts, and other gifts, the total exceeds $15.7 million. The parish appeal raised more than $14.4 million in pledges.
According to ACA figures, more than 44,000 households participated. Other highlights include 135 parishes exceeded fund-raising goals and 98 parishes reached their challenge goals. In addition, 81 parishes achieved their goals for new donors and 39 parishes improved participation.
More than $1.1 million in funding that was raised over the goal has been designated toward several areas, including investing in parish life, Catholic Charities of St. Louis, Catholic education, the Rural Parish Clinic, Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent, the Latin American Apostolate in Bolivia and Messengers of Peace in Colombia, Deaf Ministry, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and the Basilica of St. Louis, King (Old Cathedral), as well as the Archbishop’s Charity Fund to help families in need.
“The incredible response to the 2019 Annual Catholic Appeal is a testament to the strong faith of the Catholic community in St. Louis,” Archbishop Robert J. Carlson said. “At this time in our Church history, more than ever, priests and laypeople are called to work together toward a deeper holiness. Contributing to the mission of the ACA is one way we live out our support for one another and continue to strengthen our Church.”
ACA chair Chris Archer said, “Together we proclaim, ‘I Believe’ through our gifts, leadership and time volunteered. Thank you to all those who made supporting the appeal a priority in their lives this year! The generosity of so many is inspiring to behold!”
The Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation, which is slated to receive $100,000, is one of eight areas of education funded by the Annual Catholic Appeal, including elementary school assistance, archdiocesan high schools, parochial high schools, special education and more.
The foundation assists faith-based and private elementary schools and offers financial assistance to families with scholarships from local and national funding sources. More than 4,500 students from 119 schools receive aid from the foundation, an average award of $2,000 per recipient. And 90 percent are accepted into college prep high schools with 99 percent of those students enrolling in post-secondary education or the military.
Heather Thomas, the parent of kindergarten student Niyah Thomas at St. Ann School in Normandy, thanked donors for helping her child to attend a school that will allow her to reach her full potential. Thomas is a single parent who works as an administrative assistant to the Northwoods police chief. Her grandfather offered to pay for half the tuition at St. Ann, but he died a month ago, leaving Thomas in a bind.
“I was in a spot where I couldn’t send her” to the Catholic school, Thomas said.
But the foundation came through with a scholarship.
Thomas said she believes her daughter will thrive with the close attention she’ll receive at St. Ann. And the faith-based education adds an important element. Since school began, her daughter “wants to pray and talk about God with me,” Thomas said.
Good Shepherd Children and Family Services is among the Catholic Charities of St. Louis federated agencies that benefit from $1.3 million distributed by the Annual Catholic Appeal. Services are provided by Good Shepherd to people such as Bernadette Williams, who received help in becoming a foster parent of two children that she later adopted.
Good Shepherd connects children with families and keeps families connected. Michael Mehan, executive director, said that “because our work is a ministry, we simply cannot do it without the generosity of this community, and that certainly includes the Catholic community and the Annual Catholic Appeal.”
God “does the heavy lifting,” Mehan said, but He does some of it “through us as individual Catholics in this community. We are committed to being God’s eyes, ears, hands and heart of the community. And the ACA is what that is all about.”
Good Shepherd is wide-ranging in its pro-life efforts. It’s servicers — in adoption, foster care, pregnancy and parenting support for pregnant and newly parenting moms at risk, a maternity shelter for teen and young adult moms and their babies who otherwise face homelessness — are “the heart of Christ’s mission,” Mehan said.
Along with his new assignment as parochial administrator of St. Richard Parish in Creve Coeur, Father Dan Kavanagh was named director of Catholic Deaf Ministry for the archdiocese. With the help of funding from the overage of the Annual Catholic Appeal, it’s an opportunity to help build a central home in the archdiocese for deaf people to come and receive the sacraments and faith formation. Father Kavanagh also will ensure that the sacraments are available to deaf people all across the archdiocese.
The office is run through the archdiocese and is hosted at St. Richard. The new Catholic Deaf Ministry’s staff member, Al Alvord, coordinates programs and faith formation.
The Catholic Deaf Ministry focuses on education, preparation for people wanting to become Catholic, marriage prep and sacraments. It offers training for lectors, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and more. The ministry also will work with the Catholic Deaf Society, a social group, Alford said. Father Kavanagh already is hearing confessions through sign language.
Rural Parish Clinic
The Rural Parish Clinic, a new mobile medical clinic operated by employees of Catholic Charities of St. Louis and Queen of Peace Center — one of eight Catholic Charities federated agencies — in collaboration with the Rural Parish Workers of Christ the King, began seeing patients in early May. Patients must be uninsured and live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level for households.
Based at St. Joachim Parish in Old Mines, the clinic, which is slated to receive $300,000 from the appeal, provides health care services to the uninsured poor in Washington County, one of the poorest counties in the state. Services include preventative care such as annual physicals, treatment for chronic illnesses, acute care for minor illnesses, injuries and infections, as well as gynecological and psychiatric services.
Health care services are provided in a 40-foot van on the parish property, with St. Joachim’s Incarnate Word Parish Center serving as a reception/waiting area.
“Our hope is to get to the working poor — that’s our target population,” said Sister Marie Paul Lockerd, a Religious Sister of Mercy of Alma, Mich., who serves as medical director for the Rural Parish Clinic. “Our hope is that by treating people, we will be able to decrease unnecessary emergency room visits.”
A patient recently asked her, ‘Why do you do what you do?’” Sister Marie Paul told her, “because in caring for you, I find Christ.”
Respect Life Apostolate
The Annual Catholic Appeal helps to support a “culture of life” here in the archdiocese and beyond, said Respect Life Apostolate
program manager Mary Varni. This year, the apostolate is slated to receive $325,000 from the appeal.
The archdiocese has a long history in the pro-life movement, including being the first diocese in the nation to have an office dedicated to life issues. Founded by Cardinal John J. Carberry shortly after the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, the apostolate provides programs to educate the faithful on the Gospel of Life through four primary areas: pastoral care, education, spiritual support and public policy.
Some of the many programs include the Respect Life Parish Committee Network; Project Rachel and Project Joseph, which provide healing for women and men who have experienced an abortion; a spiritual adoption program for children, teens, adults and senior citizens to prayerfully intercede on behalf of moms and unborn babies threatened by abortion; the annual Respect Life Convention; the annual Creative Writing Contest; and the annual Roe vs. Wade memorial Mass in January.
“This longstanding tradition of protecting life at all stages continues, and our staff is blessed to be a part of it,” Varni said. “The support of the ACA makes this longstanding tradition of protecting life able to continue.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent
In August of 2017, two Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity made a seven-hour journey from their motherhouse in Manitowoc, Wis., to establish a new convent and ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
The Our Lady of Guadalupe convent — which is slated to receive $125,000 from the ACA — fulfills a dream of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson to have a place of prayer close to Planned Parenthood. The sisters’ presence comes at a time when Planned Parenthood has only one clinic in Missouri that performs abortions.
The convent’s mission — which includes the sisters’ presence, prayer and hospitality — “is a beautiful way of expressing what the Catholic Church is about,” Archbishop Carlson has said. “We’re not here picketing, we’re here praying. And we know that it’s only through prayer that the evil of abortion is going to be overcome.”
Sisters Sue Ann Hall and Delores Vogt are encouraged that the convent supports those who stand on the sidewalk as witnesses — either praying or providing information on alternatives to abortion to women who come to the clinic.