From soup kitchens to impoverished or expectant mothers, to people in danger of homelessness, to job training, to numerous social justice causes and Catholic Charities, to pro-life issues, to Catholic education, the seminary and more, the Annual Catholic Appeal supports the Catholic Church’s many ministries in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
This year, the ACA raised almost $15.5 million from pledges and gifts for the immediate needs of those ministries. Including estate gifts and anticipated matching gifts, the total exceeds $16 million. The parish appeal topped its goal of $14.2 million by more than $400,000 with $14.6 million in pledges.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson expressed thanks to Catholic St. Louisans for making “works of charity possible across the Archdiocese of St. Louis and beyond … (ensuring) that the story of the Church in our archdiocese is one of love and mercy.”
Likewise, ACA executive director Brian Niebrugge praised the faithful’s commitment to the Church’s charitable works.
“The people of the archdiocese continue to be generous with the mission of the Church,” he said. “Now more than ever, we need to support the good works of the Church. The Appeal helps people to see Christ in the Catholic Church in a way that makes sense to people, simply by helping those in most need. They understand helping people.”
Contributions came from all corners of the archdiocese.
“Over 47,000 households contributed to the Appeal,” Niebrugge said. “People and families from many different walks of life, many different economic, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds — urban, suburban, small town, and rural — they all contribute to this one mission.”
According to ACA figures, 137 parishes exceeded fund-raising goals, including 100 that exceeded challenge goals. In addition, 108 parishes achieved their goals for new donors and 68 parishes improved participation.
“It’s always striking to me how people in parishes continue to step up,” Niebrugge said. “It’s amazing and beautiful.”
Appeal chair Tom Heeger praised the generosity of St. Louisans, the program’s parish chairs and many volunteers “for doing all the heavy lifting,” and the ACA office, which is filled with “dedicated, top-shelf people.”
“This is well-run; it’s pretty impressive,” he said, noting that planning for future Appeals already has begun. Though the ACA runs every year in late spring and summer, it’s actually a year-round effort. Since September of 2017, Heeger, a parishioner at St. Gerard Majella in Kirkwood, oversaw the ACA Council of 24 members, which is composed of Archbishop Carlson, Auxiliary Bishop Mark S. Rivituso, Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Hermann, Vicar General Msgr. Dennis R. Stehle, clergy and laity.
The year-long effort allowed Heeger to experience Acts 20:35: “In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
“I got a lot more than I gave,” Heeger said, adding, simply, “It’s a wonderful thing.”