Personal Approach Brings Cardinal’s Appeal Success

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The Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal (CASA) is coming off a successful 2021 campaign that surpassed its goal with pledges of $21,661,370 and $21,184,694 in cash collected as of Feb. 4.

The successful outcome was achieved beginning with a goal of $21 million, or $1 million higher than in 2020.

In 2021, a total of 99 parishes went over goal compared with 66 in 2020. The number of donors also increased by 3,250 to 43,766.

“We’re making it personal for people,” said Juliette Picciano, director of CASA. The Appeal staff is “steeped in the work of the Archdiocese, but the average parishioner isn’t so aware of everything that’s offered,” she said, so bridging the gap is key.

“Our challenge is to say, these are engaged Catholics who are working in the Appeal office because they love and want to support the Church and want to invite others to do the same,” she said of CASA’s 10 campaign managers working directly with pastors and parishes.

One of the managers created websites for five parishes through eCatholic, while another helped to set up a parish’s Flocknote account, which can significantly broaden communication with parishioners. Campaign managers have used QR codes, which experienced a renaissance during the Covid-19 pandemic, to help parishes increase their offertory and CASA gifts as well as to follow readings at Mass.

The personal approach extends to pastors. Campaign managers were formerly grouped by geographic region, and now more time is spent finding a good fit with the pastor and parish, said Bettina Alonso, the executive director of development in the archdiocese.

When the campaign manager is able to connect with the parish and the pastor, “the collaboration is phenomenal,” Ms. Alonso said. Once the pastors find a campaign manager who seems like they belong, they are reluctant to let them go, she said.

Ms. Alonso said she is proud that half of campaign managers are now Spanish-speaking, and a total of 11 languages are spoken among the 10 managers, figures that take on greater importance given New York’s diversity.

The position is also broader than it used to be, with campaign managers helping parishes increase their offertory collections and redeem Renew + Rebuild capital campaign pledges as well as their CASA gifts, Ms. Alonso said.   

The 2022 CASA campaign has the theme “Lord, To Whom Shall We Go?” a scriptural reference that also happens to be Cardinal Dolan’s episcopal motto.

“It is both a prayer and answer to much of the uncertainty floating around these days,” wrote the cardinal in a letter about this year’s Appeal campaign. “It reminds us that the answers to the deepest questions of our hearts lie with Our Lord who stands with us, just as He stood with the apostles in the Gospel of John 6:68.”

This year’s funds raised by CASA will be apportioned as follows: $10 million of assistance for financially vulnerable parishes; $6 million for charitable outreach such as food pantries, counseling services and eldercare, and pastoral support to archdiocesan ministries such as Youth Faith Formation and Catechesis, Young Adult Outreach and Black and Hispanic Ministry, among others; $3 million for Evangelization, Communications and Catholic Education in parishes and schools; $1 million to formation of new parish priests at St. Joseph’s Seminary; and $1 million to care for retired priests at the St. John Vianney Clergy Residence in Riverdale.

Nearly half of CASA funding is earmarked to assist financially troubled parishes. “That’s something that resonates with people,” Ms. Alonso said.

Evangelization and Catholic Education in parishes and schools, with the addition of Communications, increases by $1 million from last year’s total.

CASA events for donors in March and April include a Westchester regional event at St. Francis of Assisi, Mount Kisco, with Mass and reception, Saturday, March 5, beginning at 5:30 p.m.; Bronx regional event at Holy Rosary-Nativity of Our Blessed Lady, with Mass and reception, Saturday, March 26, beginning at 5 p.m.; Northern Counties regional event at St. James the Apostle, Carmel, with Mass and reception, Saturday, April 9, beginning at 5 p.m.; and Rockland and Orange regional event at Immaculate Conception, Stony Point, with Mass and reception, Saturday, April 23, beginning at 5:30 p.m.   

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