Next week, most parishes in the Diocese of Evansville will kick off the 2020 edition of the Catholic Parishes Campaign, referred to by nearly everyone as CPC. This annual appeal is the primary source of revenue for the Diocese of Evansville to carry out its ministries under the prayerful guidance of Bishop Joseph M. Siegel.

Each year, we come to members of the diocese, through their parishes, to state our case for support and seek their – your – financial support. Each year, the people of God in our diocese generously respond to this request.

I have been involved in annual appeals in different dioceses for many years. Based upon my experience and my conversations with my peers in other arch/dioceses across the country, I have found that there are many commonalities – and misconceptions – about annual appeals that supersede diocesan boundaries. I would like to address a few of them here today: costs; what our gifts support; and the return on our investment.

The vast majority of dioceses and archdioceses across the United States hold annual appeals in much the same manner as do we. Like those arch/dioceses, we prepare brochures, letters, homilies and parishioner testimonials, all in the name of making our case for support. Not everyone receives the same material, as parishes have discretion as to what material they use or don’t use. Some parishes decide to use material they develop themselves rather than use those developed by the diocese.

Our costs are low. For example, in the Office of Stewardship, we do not have a graphics department. In fact, the entire Office of Stewardship fits in one chair. It’s me, and that’s it. I contract with a local graphic designer who helps me take my ideas and turn them into those nice brochures, letters and inserts for The Message. Almost all the photos used in all the material have been taken by yours truly, and I use photos of the people and places in our diocese almost exclusively. My goal is to make outstanding material for very little money.

A second misconception is that the money raised goes to support a large bureaucracy at the Catholic Center. Pope St. John XXIII was once asked how many people work in the Vatican, and he answered: “about half.” That may have been true of the Roman Curia, but I can guarantee it is not the case at the Catholic Center. There is not a single person there who has just one job to do – we all wear many hats. This is just the nature of working for the Church, and very much the nature of the people who work for the Church. There are about 28,000 Catholic families across the 12 counties of the Diocese of Evansville, and there are only about 30 people in the Catholic Center who work to meet their needs.

The most common question/complaint I hear is “We never get anything back for the money we give.” The reality is that every parish and every parishioner receives benefits from every gift made to the CPC. Take some time to read about these benefits in next week’s issue of The Message, which will feature an insert that details the Catholic Parishes Campaign.

But let me share one instance that you probably don’t know about. Parishes really depend on the Sunday collection for their income. When the lockdown began in March, parish collections decreased by as much as 80%. That’s because the bulk of offertory collections come from envelope contributions at Mass; and when people are not able to go to Mass, the contributions stop. The solution to the problem is to go to online – digital – giving, through the parish website or app. That’s a great plan, except that only 15 of the 46 parishes in the diocese had digital-giving capabilities. The diocesan Finance Office, which is funded through gifts to CPC, moved quickly to make digital giving available to parishes that did not have that capability. They provide the link for contributions on the diocesan website, collect funds, account for them and distribute 100% of the gifts back to the parish.

I am asking for your continued support of CPC by making a gift this year. I would be happy to speak to you about our diocesan annual appeal. Feel free to email me at mpotter@evdio.org.  Thanks for your prayerful consideration.

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