God calls us to be stewards of His divine will. 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. Examples include Catholic education; formation of future priests and care for retired priests; helping people in need through social services; and ministries that promote a culture of life.
The 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.
Here are some of the ways in which the Annual Catholic Appeal supports our local community:
Cardinal Ritter Senior Services
Teamwork makes the dream work in Elizabeth Bujnak’s home.
Elizabeth cares for six of her grandchildren. One of Bujnak’s daughters struggles with substance abuse; another daughter who lives with her has bipolar disorder. Several years ago, after having to take leave from work because of an autoimmune issue, Elizabeth became overwhelmed. She reached out to her church for help.
“One of the ladies from church called me back and said, ‘I’ve got this Cardinal Ritter program — maybe there’s an opening there?’” Elizabeth recalled
She was connected with the Relatives Acting as Parents Program (RAPP), which provides financial assistance and a network for relatives, mostly grandparents, who are responsible for caring for young family members. The program is one of several offered through Cardinal Ritter Senior Services, a federated agency of Catholic Charities of St. Louis.
Elizabeth has received help with things like food and utility assistance, and help with budgeting. She also built a friendship with her caseworker, Ebony Glover. “She’s my rock,” she said. “When I call her for help with the electric bill, she’s like, ‘OK, we can do that.’”
She eventually had to leave her job for health reasons and applied for disability — and Ebony was with her every step of the way. “I was used to getting two paychecks and working a second job,” she said. “It’s been really hard, but Ebony has stood up for me. She’s been so patient and kind. She sees the good in all of us, and that’s what makes me feel so happy.”
Ebony, who grew up in a low-income household, wanted to become a social worker to help others. “My mom was a hard worker and instilled in me very early to treat everyone like you would want to be treated,” she said. “When I look at people in her situation, I think, this was me. Is this how I would want a person to respond to me?”
The start of a new academic year is always exciting, but for Kenrick-Glennon seminarians, starting the fall semester of 2020 in-person was extra meaningful. After spending the previous spring in a virtual learning environment because of the pandemic, seminarians were happy to once again be back in the classroom with their comrades and professors.
“We experienced here what everybody else did,” said Ed Hogan, Kenrick-Glennon’s academic dean. “The rule of the day was that people remained focused and they were flexible at the same time.”
As the effects of the pandemic set in, the seminary quickly shifted to make sure infrastructure supported a virtual learning environment when needed. Other events, such as a monthly Fiat prayer group, Advent Novena and Convivium dinner auction, have been livestreamed.
Upon their return, seminarians were surveyed on their virtual learning experience. Many said spending most of their learning time on a computer made them appreciate being together all the more. “You just can’t engage in the same way,” Ed said of their responses. “There’s something about the human spirit that needs to be with others. The human spirit knows the difference, and we know whether or not our presence has an impact on someone.”
Always attuned to the overall formation of these men preparing for the priesthood, the seminary is implementing a new workshop this summer that will address the spiritual and human formation needs of incoming theologians. “We get guys from all over the place, and it takes about four months to get to know them and work on issues related to their vocation,” Ed said. “We said, what would happen if we had them come in June for an intensive workshop and got to know them and form a plan for going forward?” The four-week program will introduce topics such as interiority, personal and Trinitarian prayer and rules for the discernment of spirits.
People ask Ed what it’s like working at a seminary, and his response is always — generosity.
“You can feel it in the walls, the generosity of the people who built this place and continue to support it,” he said. “It’s a palpable reality that the people of the Archdiocese of St. Louis support this place. And we feel that support on a day-to-day basis. That generosity also elicits a generosity in administrators, teachers and seminarians. It’s an extraordinary feedback loop. The financial generosity is matched by a vocational generosity.”
Signing the word “Alleluia” in American Sign Language is possibly one of the most beautiful expressions of the word.
It starts by clapping the hands, and then, as arms are raised to the sky, the hands make a swirling motion, the person giving praise to God.
It’s a sign frequently expressed among Deaf Catholics participating in Mass at St. Richard Parish in Creve Coeur, the central home of the Catholic Deaf Ministry
for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The ministry was re-established in 2019, with Father Daniel Kavanagh as director.
The ministry focuses on education, preparation for people wanting to become Catholic, marriage prep and sacraments. It offers training for lectors, extraordinary ministers of holy Communion and more. The ministry also works with the Catholic Deaf Society, a social group. Al Alvord serves as a staff member, coordinating programs and faith formation.
The pandemic has affected how the ministry has been able to function in the past year, said Father Kavanagh. Signed Masses continue to be offered at 11 a.m. on Sundays, but social activities have been curtailed until it is safe to gather for social events. “The Deaf community thrives so much on being in person,” he said. Sign language “is a very visual language, and with COVID, certain challenges come with that.”
Toni Jodlowski and her husband, Richard, attend Mass every Sunday at St. Richard. She said through an interpreter that being part of the community “helps us to be closer to one another and share our faith.”
The pandemic has presented an extra challenge for Deaf Catholics, she said, with the use of face masks. While citing the importance of wearing masks to mitigate the spread of the virus, Toni said that people who are Deaf or have hearing loss rely on the use of facial expressions and lip reading to communicate with others.
Toni said she also enjoys participating in Mass with people who are not Deaf, and seeing them learn sign language used by the priest, interpreter and congregation. “Hopefully, we can encourage more people who are Deaf to come here, now that we have a priest who signs,” she said. Being together as a community “helps us come closer to understanding who Jesus is. We can talk to God, yes, but to feel like we’re part of this community — we need to feel this.”
Sophia Rios fondly remembers her time as a student at Little Flower School in Richmond Heights. But it was one teacher in particular who made a lasting impact upon her.
Her former third-grade teacher, Karen Franz, frequently gave the students free writing time, where they could write about anything they’d like. “Writing is my safe haven,” said Sophia, now a college sophomore. “I remember Miss Franz was like Snow White — pale with dark hair. She was this Disney princess of a woman. I would wait every single day for free write time. (Our writing) didn’t have to make sense, but she would always read it and give me smiley faces and encourage us. Those things really stick with kids, and I thought, I want to be like that and be a mentor to other kids.”
Sophia is studying education, with an English concentration, via Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. She wants to teach in a bilingual high school, following in the footsteps of her mother, who also is a teacher.
Her education at Little Flower was made possible through a scholarship from the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation. Without that support, “I would not have been able to have the education that I had,” she said. “My mom was a working-class, single mom and would not have been able to send me there.” The Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation and Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis are supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal.
One of the best things about attending Little Flower is that all of the teachers knew you, even if you didn’t have them for class, Sophia said. “They definitely challenged me,” she said. “You felt like you had a duty to that challenge and something to work for. It prepared me well for high school.”
Sophia also loved the faith aspect of her school, which she held on to as she attended a public high school. When she started college, she brought a candle with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe for her dorm room. “The faith formation is a comfort to me,” she said. As someone of Latin-American descent, she said, “Catholicism is a big part of my culture and it shapes where I come from. That’s very much a consistency that I’ve always had.”
Thy Will Be Done
The theme of the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal is “Thy Will Be Done.” The work of the Archdiocese of St. Louis is made possible through the generous stewardship of Catholics who “seek to do the will of the Father — this has been mandated to us,” said Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski.
The appeal funds programs such as the Rural Parish Clinic providing medical care to people in need; the Criminal Justice Ministry supporting people who are incarcerated and those returning to the St. Louis area; Catholic education assisting children with a sense of purpose and value; parish food pantries serving people who are hungry; the Catholic Deaf Ministry providing a central home for people who are deaf to receive the sacraments and faith formation; programs that teach about the respect for human life; and more
“In these unprecedented times, the work of the Church continues both despite and because of the challenges we have faced this past year,” Archbishop Rozanski said. “The need for our ministries is great, and the faithful have responded in heroic ways. Our unwavering faith in God’s will compels us to answer His call to lift up those in need. Your generous support of the Annual Catholic Appeal provides hope and care to our brothers and sisters through out the Archdiocese of St. Louis.”
HOW TO DONATE
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 $340,000
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.