By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Dear friends in Christ, due to the pandemic many diocesan, parish and school events and programing were derailed, postponed or curtailed. One of the casualties earlier this year was the parish in-pew process for the 2021 Catholic Service Appeal.
Consequently, our goal of $1,153,654 is down approximately $344,000. All things considered; this shortfall is directly related to the cancellation of the in-pew process over health concerns surrounding the spread of the COVID-19. But as the contributions to the appeal slowed to a trickle by early summer, I and other diocesan officials realized that we had to arrange for one final push to overcome the deficit that will surely have a negative impact on our ministries.
The best approach would be to conduct the in-pew process as the cornerstone for this 11th hour drive, which is now scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 28 and 29. A seven-month delay is unprecedented with this critical step for the success of the service appeal, but then again, we are navigating through unprecedented times.
The service appeal is an essential component of our annual diocesan budget, funding approximately 20% for our ministries and programs. To put a human face on this deficit, a 25% shortfall of $344,000 is most of what it costs to educate our six seminarians for the academic year ahead. Or this is most of the annual contribution to our Catholic Charities that each year is an unrestricted flow of income that can be used for shortfalls in programing. So much of the work of Catholic Charities is accomplished off the radar, but we are serving vulnerable populations throughout Mississippi, and the vast majority of our sisters and brothers whom we empower are not Catholic. We do the work because we are Catholic, and so we lift up the victims of domestic violence, those weighed down under the yoke of drugs and alcohol, homeless veterans who put their lives on the line, children and young people in foster care and adoption services, young people afflicted by mental health issues and family turmoil, disaster relief, counseling and immigration services, academic enrichment for underserved children and much more. Through all of these programs we fulfill our mission to be a visible sign of Christ’s love.
Fittingly, we are concerned about the gaping deficit in this year’s goal, because all of our diocesan ministries that serve the Lord depend upon your generosity through the service appeal. The office of communication, including our Mississippi Catholic publication, Faith Formation and Evangelization, Youth ministry and Campus ministry, and more, will be adversely affected unless we can substantially or totally erase the deficit.
We are grateful to all who have contributed to this year’s appeal so far. Some even went the extra mile and made a second contribution, realizing that regular donors might not be able to give due to the setbacks of the pandemic.
Currently, we are down 1,470 donors for this year’s appeal. Clearly, the postponement of the in-pew process is the major culprit.
If you are able to contribute at the 11th hour of the 2021 appeal, please know that each and every gift will be a blessing. Whether you can take the opportunity through the in-pew-process on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 28 and 29, through the mail or online giving, be assured that you will be supporting the mission of the Diocese of Jackson to serve others, to inspire disciples and to embrace diversity. Sister Thea Bowman would be so proud to behold each little light glowing together to become a beacon of hope for all in need, and for the glory of God.