At midpoint, Catholic Charity Appeal ahead of last year's pace

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PROVIDENCE — At the midpoint of the diocesan Catholic Charity Appeal the faithful have shown tremendous generosity in donating to the annual campaign that benefits some three dozen of the diocese’s outreach ministries tasked with carrying on Jesus’s mission of caring for those most in need.

Statistics obtained from the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development for the week of April 18 show that in a week-to-week comparison, the 2017 Appeal is outpacing last year’s campaign at this time.

The average gift to the 2017 Appeal so far is $213.99, and the Bishop’s Partnership in Charity — those giving gifts of $1,000 or more — has raised $1,365,266.

In its eighth week, the Appeal, as of April 18, is at 58 percent of its goal, receiving $4,633,293 in gifts.

Campaign organizers attribute the success of the campaign to the pastors working diligently at the parish level across the diocese to encourage their congregations to give generously.

According to the Office of Stewardship and Development, St. Eugene Parish in Chepachet is the first parish to reach and exceed its goal for the 2017 Appeal.

St. Eugene has so far raised a total of $38,275, exceeding 109 percent of its starting goal of $35,000. The parish continues to receive donations.

“I was so thrilled to reach our goal within only two or three weeks of the campaign starting,” said St. Eugene Pastor Father TJ Varghese, noting that recent gifts, not yet reflected in the official Stewardship figures, have increased parish totals to more than $42,000.

“I’ve been here for 10 years and every year we’ve made our goal,” he said.

Father Varghese said he is blessed to have a wonderful and giving congregation who sees value in donating to the Appeal for all the good work that it does, which includes providing financial support for the diocese’s pro-life efforts, heating assistance program, homeless shelter, elder care and multicultural ministries.

“St. Eugene is one of the growing, vibrant, active parishes,” he said. “The people are very generous, very kindhearted, very faithful, and very loyal to their faith and their parish and the pastor, and that is something tremendous. It’s really a blessing.”

Robert Spirito, associate director of the Office of Stewardship and Development, said the overall success of the Appeal depends heavily on the promotion of the campaign from the pulpit and throughout parish ministries.

“Since he was appointed pastor in 2008, Father Varghese has demonstrated outstanding leadership and dedication to ensure a successful Appeal at St. Eugene Parish,” he said. “That’s a big help for the diocese.”

Spirito is hopeful that the positive momentum driving this year’s campaign forward will continue through its conclusion at the end of June, and will allow it to top a very successful 2016 Appeal.

Last year’s campaign was a record-setting one for the diocese, bringing in a total of $8,072,854 in donations, surpassing the $8 million goal established at its launch. Another plus for the 2016 drive was the addition of about 3,000 new donors who had not previously contributed to the Appeal.

“Congratulations to Father Varghese and the generous parishioners at St. Eugene Parish for a job well done,” Spirito said. “We now pray for the continued success of the 2017 Appeal in all parishes within the Diocese of Providence.”