Serve and support: ‘That’s what we do’

| February 20, 2019 | 0 Comments


This year’s theme to support faith-based services across the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says a lot about what it means to be Catholic.

“Unified We Rise” emphasizes the impact Catholics together can have on educating children, saving lives at risk of abortion, strengthening marriages and families, assisting the poor and people in need, and helping college students, inmates, youths and young adults find Christ, said leaders of the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation. The foundation leads an annual campaign that this year is seeking $9.3 million in donations for 20 ministries.

“Should I give?” asked Melissa Uzelac, CSAF development manager and a parishioner of St. John the Baptist in New Brighton. “Yes. That’s what we do. We support each other.”

Last year, CSAF supported 18 ministries in the archdiocese. This year, it’s added two more: Abria Pregnancy Resources with locations in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul-Twin Cities. Each is slated to receive $50,000.

“We serve the poor, support life and strengthen the faith. They fit right in with that,” said Jennifer Beaudry, CSAF executive director, about the two nonprofit organizations. “All of our ministries fit within that paradigm.”

Both ministries meet the foundation’s criteria for Catholic-based organizations. In addition to its work in the Twin Cities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has parish-based conferences helping people in need across the archdiocese, Uzelac said.

Word about the appeal is being shared through social media, letters to past donors, and by people telling their friends and neighbors about the difference the appeal and the missions it supports have made in their own lives, Beaudry said.

CSAF: Helping ministries help othersGoal: $9.3 million
Abria Pregnancy Resources — $50,000
American Indian Ministry — $200,000
Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women — $25,585
Campus Ministry, Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities — $264,000
Campus Ministry, St. Paul’s Outreach — $11,000
Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis — $700,000
Deaf Ministry — $39,733
Catholic Elementary School Support/Scholarships — $1.7 million
Office of Evangelization — $150,000
Catholic High School Scholarships — $800,000
Hospital Chaplains — $600,000
Office of Latino Ministry — $350,000
Office of Marriage, Family & Life — $256,000
Parishes — $1.8 million
Prison Ministry — $32,000
Rachel’s Vineyard Twin Cities — $26,875
Society of St. Vincent de Paul-Twin Cities — $50,000
The Seminaries of St. Paul — $1 million
Archdiocesan Venezuelan Mission — $110,000
Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry — $64,000More details about ministries served and appeal finances are at

Parishes already have participated through pulpit announcements and bulletin inserts Feb. 9-10 and Feb. 16-17. Next up for parishes is commitment weekend Feb. 23-24 with a five-minute video and in-pew donation requests.

This year’s campaign and video highlight what it means to live out the Catholic faith, Beaudry said.

“People see and want to feel something they can believe in and commit to,” she said. “This will show them it’s right in front of them.”

Money raised helps people in numerous ways, including the homeless served by Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, families that need scholarships to send their children to Catholic elementary and high schools, vocation efforts at The Seminaries of St. Paul and the archdiocese’s missionary presence in Venezuela through the parish of Jesucristo Resucitado, Beaudry said.

Last year, the foundation took in $9.7 million in pledges, of which the foundation has collected $9.4 million, Beaudry and Uzelac said. That’s less than the $9.8 million in pledges and $9.6 million collected in 2017. And it’s less than the $9.8 million goal for 2018, a result perhaps of a slow start and general uncertainty about the Church as it faces an international clergy sexual abuse crisis, though appeal donations fund only the designated outreach ministries, they said.
The number of donors also fell, from 40,140 in 2017 to 34,300. Three fewer parishes made goal, dropping from 124 parishes in 2017 to 121 parishes last year.

But donations from more than 1,000 people giving $1,500 or more — the Deo Gratias Society — grew from $3.3 million in 2017 to $3.7 million last year.

And about $8.4 million is being distributed to ministries from last year’s campaign, including $1.9 million to parishes, which receive 25 percent of the funds they raised when they hit goal.

Parishes that raise more than 90 percent of their goal but less than 100 percent get back 10 percent of the funds they raised. CSAF expenses totaled $880,000, less than 10 percent of the total collected and better than nonprofit industry standards of 12 to 20 percent, Beaudry said.

This year, to help the ministries they serve plan their budgets, the goal is $9.3 million, the same level sought but exceeded in 2017, Beaudry said.

Greg Pulles,  chairman of the CSAF board and a member of Holy Name of Jesus in Medina, said one effort this year is combining the video with the in-pew requests for donations, rather than doing them on separate weekends. More directly linking the two might help drive home the importance of the drive and its impact on people in need, he said.

“We hope to do a better job of explaining in our materials where the funds go and the critical need that’s there,” Pulles said.

Beaudry said a good problem to have this year “might be to raise more than we hoped.” Any money raised above goal would go straight into the 20 ministries.

“What comes in goes out,” Beaudry said. “There’s no stockpile, no backup money. If we don’t raise it, we can’t fund it.”

Making a difference

Chris and Gina Rickert are giving — and receiving — every year through the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation.

They are among more than 1,000 people who are part of the foundation’s Deo Gratias Society, giving $1,500 or more annually to the appeal. The Rickerts started making donations at that level soon after moving six years ago from Des Moines, Iowa, to Rogers and joining their parish, Mary, Queen of Peace.

Retreats and updates on the appeal provided by the foundation to society members became part of their routine, Chris said, and they met a lot of people. It inspired Chris to attend the Catholic Men’s Conference and become a founding member and leader of his parish’s Catholic Watchmen faith-sharing group.

Gina said the appeal helps her support groups that she cannot be a part of personally. Among other things, she is directly involved at her parish with the Council of Catholic Women and its efforts in spirituality, leadership and service; the Cana Family Institute’s support of marriage and family life; and Early Catholic Family Life, offering activities for parents and their children up to age 5. Gina, a homemaker, and Chris have four children under age 7.

The appeal is more than giving a donation, said Chris, an information technology consultant. It’s a way to grow in community and better understand the variety of ministries in which to get involved.

“It’s just opened a lot of doors for us to participate in,” he said.

Last year, the foundation hosted about 360 society members and their relatives for one night’s production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at the SteppingStone Theatre near St. Thomas More Church in St. Paul, Chris said.

The evening Dec.14 began with Archbishop Bernard Hebda presiding at Mass at the church, Chris said. Their first-grade son, Grant, was particularly excited to see the archbishop, he said.

“I thought it was a well-done event,” Chris said. “It was refreshing to see families together like that.”

A similar event is planned for this year — a Dec. 6 production of “Annie Jr.”

Might the Rickerts go again?

“It will be on our radar,” Chris said.



Category: Catholic Services Appeal, Featured