Catholic Arkansas Sharing Appeal had a successful year growing faith efforts in the state, even during the pandemic.
Diocesan development director Dianne Brady said the diocese was able to surpass its $2 million goal in 2020 by $59,549. The last time the diocese met or surpassed its goal was in 2015.
Brady said CASA kicked off Feb. 1-2 last year and had lots of support before the pandemic hit and public Masses were stopped in mid-March.
“We had a really strong start and continued as usual with pledge reminders,” Brady said. “We didn’t do our follow-up mailing in May but waited and combined it with the end-of-the-year mailing in November. Even though the number of donors was down, we had generous donors who gave a little more this year, I think realizing the pandemic would be affecting religious organizations as well as secular organizations.”
She said 5,446 supporters gave an average of $171 last year. That average was up slightly from 2019.
The diocese’s annual appeal will kick off in parishes at all Masses Feb. 6-7 with a video/audio homily from Bishop Anthony B. Taylor. Parishioners are encouraged to fill out a pledge card and make a one-time gift or a pledge over the next 10 months by check, credit card or cash. The campaign ends Dec. 31.
Because many people are still attending Mass virtually, the diocese mailed a letter from Bishop Taylor and a donation envelope this week to all registered families in the diocese.
Each family is asked to pledge 1 percent of their annual gross (pre-tax) income.
Like last year, almost every ministry and program in the diocese will be touched by CASA giving. This includes:
• Diocesan ministries, $550,000: Diocesan offices, such as the Family Life Office and Hispanic Ministry Office, are able to serve Catholics across Arkansas because of CASA support.
• St. John Center renovations, $575,000: The diocese is continuing to renovate its diocesan buildings. In addition to weatherproofing the outside of Fletcher Hall, the diocese installed Wi-Fi in Fletcher Hall and a gas-powered generator for the IT department.
• Parish and mission support, $120,000: The diocese subsidizes the cost of priests and religious serving parishioners in financially challenged mission churches.
• Youth and campus ministry, $230,000: The Youth and Campus Ministry Office organizes programs and retreats for junior high to college students.
• Grants to Catholic schools, $100,000: Schools in need can apply for grants to buy educational equipment and materials.
• Grants to faith formation programs, $100,000: Parish religious education programs can receive grants for new programs and supplies.
• Seminarian expenses, $75,000: CASA funds help pay seminary tuition and living expenses for 29 seminarians.
• Catholic Charities of Arkansas, $100,000: The ministry operates a free medical clinic, prison ministry and two immigration offices among other programs.
• Catholic Adoption Services, $50,000: The adoption office helps dozens of women each year who are considering placing their unborn babies for adoption.
For more information, call (501) 664-0340 or visit dolr.org/casa.
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