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Elizabeth Bujnak takes care of her grandkids through the help of Cardinal Ritter Senior Services’ Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP). She talked with her granddaughters, from left, Isabella Bujnak, Gabriella Washington, Victoria Washington, Angelique Benson and Cadence Kichner in her kitchen in January.
Elizabeth Bujnak takes care of her grandkids through the help of Cardinal Ritter Senior Services’ Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP). She talked with her granddaughters, from left, Isabella Bujnak, Gabriella Washington, Victoria Washington, Angelique Benson and Cadence Kichner in her kitchen in January.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Annual Catholic Appeal | Thy will be done

Through the Annual Catholic Appeal, the work of the Church continues despite - and because of - the challenges in our society

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:

Elizabeth Bujnak talked with Ebony Glover, a caseworker with Cardinal Ritter Senior Services’ Relatives as Parents Program. The program provides financial assistance and a network for relatives who are responsible for caring for young family members.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

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.

Elizabeth Bujnak held her granddaughter Gabrielle Washington as her Cardinal Ritter Senior Services’ Relatives as Parents Program caseworker, Ebony Glover, visited.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston
“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?”

Seminarians Jordan Boone, center, Daniel McGrath and Luke Schmitz participated in a workshop with John James at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in January.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

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.

Father James Mason, rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, led a workshop for seminarians.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston
“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.”

Toni Jodlowski participated in Mass with sign language at St. Richard Church in Creve Coeur. Next to her is her husband Richard Jodlowski and her friend Mary Morrow.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Deaf Ministry

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.

Father Daniel Kavanagh signed the Gospel while it was read by Deacon John Bischof at Mass at St. Richard Church in January.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston
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.”

Catholic education

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.”


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.


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


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.

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