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 2023 Annual Catholic Appeal is $15.5 million. Approximately 91 cents of every dollar raised goes back into the community in direct services.
As Deacon Josh Deters stood in the places where Jesus performed miracles in the Holy Land, he was struck by an intense feeling: 2,000 years later, Jesus is still working to bring about His kingdom.
“I felt that urgency, that action of His life — He’s going here, He’s going there, He’s on mission, building the Church and really working to establish His kingdom,” Deacon Deters said. “Two thousand years have happened since then, but it didn’t feel that long. It felt like His mission still has a sort of urgency about it. He’s still working, He’s still moving, He’s still building up His kingdom.”
Deacon Deters traveled to the Holy Land in January with his fellow transitional deacons at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, as well as some recently ordained priests of the archdiocese. The Holy Land trip is typically a staple of the transitional diaconate year, but the annual trip had been postponed during the pandemic for the previous two classes.
The group spent a week in Galilee and two weeks in Jerusalem. One of Deacon Deters’ favorite experiences was spending the night in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which contains the sites where Jesus was crucified and buried in the tomb.
“There’s something special about being there, just thinking, wow, the Lord was crucified here. The Lord was buried here. And here’s where Mary was at the foot of the cross with John,” he said. “I’d known all of that was true, but it brings it to a new vividness whenever you’re present there.”
At the Church of the Annunciation, the site where the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be the Mother of God, they prayed the Angelus, which includes Mary’s response, “Be it done unto me according to thy word.”
“I was brought to tears at that spot,” Deacon Deters said. “I could just really sit in that moment and be with Mary, be with Jesus.”
Deacon Deters has already been able to share his first-hand experience with parishioners at Holy Infant in Ballwin, where he is currently assigned, through homilies and other conversations. And as he prepares for his ordination to the priesthood in May — God willing — he has a renewed zeal for the mission, he said.
“The trip was a great combination of everything I’ve learned (during seminary). I’ve learned about the Scriptures, and I’m now seeing where they happened; I’ve learned about the theology of the sacraments, and here’s where they were instituted,” he said. “It just provides a great fulfillment, or culmination of all my studies, but also just my own personal formation.”
Aaron Reinberg remembers a conversation around the time her daughter, Isabel, was a year old. She was out to dinner with several other moms who have children with Down syndrome. They talked about what it would take for their kids to be part of a Catholic classroom.
It was something Aaron hadn’t even considered. She was just coming out of a fog that involved having a child with numerous health issues. Open heart surgery was still fresh on her mind — not where Isabel would be attending school.
“These women had older children … and I hadn’t even thought about it. It seemed so far in the future. It got me a little anxious. Is there a possibility my kid will have to go to a different school than my older kids?”
Sitting at that dinner table was LeeAnn Armitage, who told the women that she and her husband, Tony, were working on an inclusion program for their son, Christopher, at their parish school, Mary Queen of Peace in Webster Groves.
The Armitages went on to become founders of One Classroom, a nonprofit organization that helps fund inclusive education at Catholic schools for students with special needs.
The program has since grown to include 12 Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, along with eight additional Catholic schools that receive professional development services. Tony Armitage said he anticipates the organization will be working with more than 20 Catholic schools in the 2023-24 school year.
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.
Each school also undergoes a consultation to understand its goals and challenges in providing special 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.
“Our mission is grounded in our faith, and it’s incredibly fulfilling to see the Holy Spirit at work in our community and see how this opportunity is unlocking the way our Church should respond to meeting the needs of children with special needs,” said Tony Armitage. “It’s a blossoming of our faith and our Church. At the end of the day, we want our children to go to heaven, and this is part of that.”
One Classroom recently expanded its relationship with Webster University to provide professional development for Catholic school teachers and principals. Last year, 80 principals and teachers attended professional development sessions, which included a variety of topics related to inclusive education.
The Reinbergs’ daughter, Isabel, is now a second-grader at Christ the King School in University City. Aaron Reinberg said the school welcomed Isabel with open arms and worked with the family to create a path that would allow their daughter to have an inclusive education.
She and her husband, Beau, “always approached it as a two-way street. It has to work for everybody for this to be successful. It’s been so easy for us. Her teachers love her and want her there as much as she wants to be there.”
“We are in this wonderful space with diversity — racial, but also in different types of abilities,” she said. “People want their kids to experience all kinds of people and break out of their bubble. I think Isabel brings that to the table for the whole school.”
The Reinbergs also love that their daughter gets to learn about God and her Catholic faith just like any other student in Catholic school. “She knows that God is part of her every day, even if she expresses it in her own way,” Aaron said. “She gets to experience this every day.”
Rural Parish Clinic
Diana Lutes used to cover her mouth with her hand when she smiled. Now, she grins all the time, no need to cover up.
Diana’s beautiful smile wasn’t the only thing she gained from her visits to the Rural Parish Clinic for both medical and dental care. She’s also gained a “beautiful family,” as she described it.
“They’re my family and I feel like I’m family to them,” said Diana, who lives in rural Washington County, near Old Mines. “They have been there for me and pray for me, and could help me through things I was dealing with in my life. They’re a blessing, because they want to help you in any way that they can.”
The Rural Parish Clinic began offering medical care to patients in Washington County in 2019 and has since expanded from its original location at St. Joachim Church in Old Mines to include sites in four different counties. In 2020, the 40-foot mobile clinic started visiting St. Clare Church in St. Clair; in 2021, it expanded to Sonrise Baptist Church in Bonne Terre and Good Shepherd Church in Hillsboro. In 2022, it added regular stops at St. James Church in Potosi and Immaculate Conception Church in Union.
The dental clinic launched in 2021 to bring oral health care to those in need, beginning at Father Dempsey’s Charities in St. Louis. Since then, it’s added stops at Sacred Heart Church in Troy as well as St. Joachim, Immaculate Conception and Sonrise Baptist churches. Dental services include cleanings, x-rays and tooth extractions, fillings and dentures. The clinic typically remains in one location for several days in a row to allow time for patients to come back for follow-up treatments or procedures.
Both clinics provide free care to patients without insurance at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. In Washington County, 15% of adults under age 65 do not have health insurance. In St. Francois County, 13% are uninsured; in Franklin County, 12%; and Jefferson County, 11%, according to 2022 county health rankings. In 2022, both clinics saw a total of 367 patients over 964 visits.
Sister Mary Rachel Nerbun, RSM, an internal medicine physician and president and medical director of the Rural Parish Clinic, noted that the distinctive care is what the patients notice the most.
“It’s different than what they’re going to get with Medicaid,” said the Sister of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. “We really focus on a holistic approach. Obviously it’s medical and dental, but it’s also educating them about their health. It’s trying to meet some of the emotional and spiritual needs they have as well.”
The other part of care is helping patients address some of the underlying issues that prevent them from receiving care or maintaining good health. “We help them fill out paperwork for housing, or where we’re going to help them get eye care,” Sister Mary Rachel said. “It’s getting them resources at food pantries, or a bill payment, or helping them get their medications. You can treat their health, but if they can’t buy the medication or they don’t even have running water, they can’t take it. You really have to be able to meet all of their needs.”
The clinic works with community partners, including the Rural Parish Workers of Christ the King, a community of vowed laywomen and volunteers who serve the poor in Washington County, as well as ministerial alliances and health departments in each county the clinic serves, among other resources.
Yvette Scott made her first visit to the Rural Parish Clinic in 2019 for medical care. Scott has Graves’ disease, an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones. She’s also has received dental care through the clinic and was connected another community resource for some new eyeglasses.
Yvette said she has a general distrust of doctors, but said she found the opposite at the Rural Parish Clinic. “These are the only medical people I trust,” she said. “They’re caring, and they know your name. I can’t see myself going anywhere else.”
Cardinal Ritter Senior Services
At a recent Wednesday morning Get Fit exercise class at Mother of Perpetual Help residence, Sister Pauline Lorch, OSU, circled her arms, balanced on one leg at a time and more.
“When I do (these sessions) consistently, I can feel the difference in my body,” she said. “It keeps me moving, and I feel better afterward.”
Sister Pauline has lived at Mother of Perpetual Help for about three and a half years. She’s one of several Ursuline sisters in the residence; since she’s used to the community life of a religious sister, opportunities to spend time and stay connected to both her fellow Ursulines and others is important to her.
“There’s strength in doing things together — it’s very helpful,” she said.
The Cardinal Ritter Senior Services campus in Shrewsbury includes independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing communities. The agency’s services also include affordable senior apartments in locations around the St. Louis area and a foster grandparent volunteer program.
Cardinal Ritter Senior Services is one of eight federated agencies of Catholic Charities of St. Louis.
Sister Joan Dyreks, OSF, describes herself as the “local leader” for the Franciscan sisters who reside at Mother of Perpetual Help, visiting them regularly and taking care of personal needs like shopping. One of the most important things to the sisters who live there is the chance to receive the sacraments regularly, she said. Mass is offered six days a week, with the opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation every Monday.
“(Mass) is kind of the highlight of their day; they’re religious, and it’s something look forward to,” she said.
The Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help were the first residents of Mother of Perpetual Help residence when it opened in the 1990s. Seventeen of their sisters live there now, one of them for the past 23 years.
“It’s a community, and they can go around and be with their own sisters,” Sister Joan said. “Especially if there’s a sister who’s ill, they have the opportunity to go and pray and share that religious life with them.”
Joe Vogt’s parents both live on the Cardinal Ritter Senior Services campus in Shrewsbury. They started out in an assisted living apartment together. His mother has since moved into a memory care unit and his father into skilled nursing. One of the reasons they chose Cardinal Ritter Senior Services was the continuum of care model, where many different levels of care are located on the same campus.
“You can go from independent apartment living, and then if you need more help, move about 100 yards away, and you’re in assisted living,” Joe said. “If you need memory care, they’ve got memory care; if you need skilled nursing, it’s right there.”
His parents were longtime parishioners of St. Christopher and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in Florissant; having the opportunity to attend Mass or receive the Eucharist in their rooms has been a huge source of comfort to them, Joe said.
“It fits with our beliefs,” he said. “It’s that Christian influence — you just feel like they’re safe.”
Earlier this year, two new memory care communities, Gabriel and Michael, opened at the Mother of Perpetual Help residence. The $6.5 million, 20,000-square-foot expansion has space for 26 residents (13 in each household).
Mother of Perpetual Help residence in 2022 became the first facility in Missouri to be certified as a Positive Approach to Care community. The Positive Approach to Care training emphasizes a relationship-focused approach for caregivers of people with dementia. Sixty-five employees — including workers in health care, dining, laundry services, activities and administration — have or are currently undergoing training.
Reach Out in Love
The theme of the 2023 Annual Catholic Appeal is “Reach Out in Love.” The 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 Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, adding that the appeal is an act of unity and an opportunity to love without limits.
“Let us serve the Lord with gladness and see what is possible when we allow Christ to work through our hands,” he said. “Your gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal allows us to realize the difference we can make when we act together in God’s love. When we reach out in love, there is no limit to how many lives we can touch.”
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.
Christine Eilerman, chair of the 2023 Annual Catholic Appeal campaign, said the appeal is an opportunity to keep donations within the local Church and to support many entities all at once.
“I love the opportunity to give Catholic and to give local,” she said, “but also to give to so many agencies. I continue to encourage others to partake and use their gifts they have been given to benefit a broader group of agencies. It’s really going out into the mission field.”
How to donate
The financial goal of the 2023 Annual Catholic Appeal is $15.5 million. Approximately 91 cents of every dollar goes back into the community in the form of direct services. The appeal will be conducted in most parishes the weekends of April 22-23, April 29-30 and May 6-7. To learn more about the Annual Catholic Appeal, visit aca.archstl.org.
SERVING OUR PARISHES DIRECTLY
Elementary School Assistance $2,000,000
Stewardship and Development Support for Parishes, Schools and Agencies $425,000
Office of Peace and Justice $140,000
Parish Emergency Assistance Fund $100,000
Basilica of St. Louis, King of France $50,000
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis $50,000
Parish Food Pantries $50,000
SERVING OUR YOUTH
Archdiocesan and Parochial High Schools $1,416,000
Archdiocesan Seminary $525,000
Vocation Programs $380,000
Special Education $300,000
Newman Centers on College Campuses $262,000
Religious Formation $200,000
Today and Tomorrow Educational Fund $150,000
One Classroom $110,000
High School Stewardship Essay Program $55,000
Office of Youth Ministry $40,000
SERVING THE PEOPLE IN OUR PARISHES
Respect Life Apostolate $450,000
Evangelization and Discipleship $425,000
Adult Faith Formation $370,000
Natural Family Planning $220,000
Hispanic Ministry $200,000
Office of Racial Harmony $120,000
Catholic Deaf Ministry $110,000
St. Charles Lwanga Center $100,000
Catholic St. Louis Magazine $80,000
Catholic Renewal Center $77,000
Elementary Teachers Educational Fund $75,000
SERVING THOSE IN NEED
Catholic Charities $1,650,000
Rural Parish Clinic $300,000
Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service $125,000
Criminal Justice Ministry $100,000
Bridge of Hope/Lincoln County Housing Initiative $50,000
Archbishop’s Charity Fund $30,000
Messengers of Peace Mission Work $25,000
Meals Program and Sts. Peter and Paul Church $15,000
SERVING THOSE WHO SERVE US
Care for Active and Retired Priests $880,000
Continuing Formation for Priests $430,000
Regina Cleri Priests Retirement Home $350,000
Permanent Diaconate $150,000
Support for Religious Orders $20,000
Annual Catholic Appeal Expenses $1,500,000
Reserve for Unpaid Pledges $930,000
Archdiocesan Services $465,000
• 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.