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CURRENT ISSUE:  September 19, 2011
VOL. 49, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
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Bishop’s Appeal nears goal

Bishop Cordileone handed out checks to various parishes that exceeded their Bishop’s Appeal goal at a recognition ceremony Sept. 2.
josé luis aguirre photo

The Diocese of Oakland’s Bishop’s Appeal, the annual fundraising drive whose monies help fund schools, social services, seminarian education and more, is about to hit its goal for the first time in four years.

More than 35 parishes have exceeded their goals, entitling them to a rebate back to their parish of money raised in excess of the goal.

“I am deeply grateful to all those who have so generously supported the Annual Bishop’s Appeal this year, especially in these hard economic times, which will help us in the chancery office to better provide the support our parishes need to sustain their ministries,” said Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone.

The goal for 2011 (the appeal runs from the first weekend in February each year through January of the next) was $2.1 million, the same as 2010. So far, $1.9 million has been raised vs. $1.5 million last year.

“This wonderful generosity of our people is just one example of how all of us, joined in a spirit of stewardship and solidarity, can together further the mission of the Church of knowing Christ better and making him better known,” Bishop Cordileone said.

Michael P. Canizzaro, diocesan chief financial officer, said, “If we reach 2.1 million, it will be the largest amount ever raised for our annual Bishop’s Appeal.”

Each of the dioceses 84 parishes had a goal set based on income and adjusted lower for low-income parishes.

As of Sept. 1, “many parishes had all but reached the goal,” Canizzaro said. “In addition to the 34 parishes that have already met or surpassed their goals, 15 parishes are within 20 percent of having achieved their objective.”

St. Callistus Parish in El Sobrante had a goal of $11,817.08 from its 848 registered households. It raised $19,396.73 — 165 percent of goal, so the parish got a check back for the difference, more than $7,500.

“We have always exceeded the goal,” said Father Jimmy Thottapally, parochial administrator at St. Callistus since 2006. “It’s a credit to our people. We have needs in the parish, but the diocese also has needs.

“The diocese is the one who supports us. You have to look at the relationship between the parish and the diocese. We have a duty to help as we can,” Thottapally said.

So far this year, Canizzaro said, there were 12,239 individual donors, compared to 10,550 in 2010, a 16 percent increase. Some donors, who give cash, are unaccounted.

“It seems the participation at the parish level was much better than in the past,” he said.

For the first time, the diocese used an outside contractor, Guidance in Giving Inc., of Bayport, N.Y., to help increase participation, at a cost of about $100,000.

“They provided the impetus to build a diocesan data base,” Canizzaro said, adding “the net amount of increased contributions to-date (with still four months to go) is approximately $425,000 greater than last year at this time.

“We will again contract with Guidance in Giving,” he said.

“I think the primary change has been a heightened awareness by the people of the diocese of what it is the Chancery Office actually does on their behalf,” Canizzaro said. The appeal provides assistance to Catholic schools and education, seminarian education and clergy retirement, an array of social services and assistance for parishes in things like seismic retrofits.

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