By Seth Gonzales
Special to The Texas Catholic
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell initiated the 2011 Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries under the theme of “I will not forget you” from Isaiah 49:15.
And parishioners far and wide heeded the call with impressive generosity, pledging a record-breaking amount of $7.7 million to support of Catholic ministries across the Diocese of Dallas.
With more than $6.6 million in pledges collected before the end of December, the actual amount raised also was a record.
“Every year, the bishop invites Catholics around the diocese to participate and support ministries that, while outside their own community, impact the community in one way or another,” said Jim Urbanus, the diocese’s director of the Development Office. “This year, as was the case last year, people have been incredibly generous.”
Dozens of parishes across the diocese answered the call by exceeding their pledge targets.
The Annual Appeal, as it is known in short, supports 27 diocesan-led ministries ranging from vocations and social services to hospital ministry and diocesan schools. Officials stress that100 percent of the funds raised goes directly to these ministries, and are divided among each ministry according to need.
One of those offices that regularly strike a chord with parishioners is the education of seminarians.
“I don’t think people realize how much it really costs to help educate our young men who are training to be priests,” Urbanus said. “On average, we have to spend about $50,000 per year, per seminarian. We’ve been blessed with many young men training for the priesthood, but we need all the help we can get.”
Father Edmundo Paredes, pastor of St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Dallas, says that the education of seminarians has been a big motivator for people in his parish.
“You have to show people how the Annual Appeal benefits the parish, and in our case, the school as well. I pointed out one of our deacons to them, Gerardo Garza. I told them that without the education and formation our seminarians and deacons get, we don’t have Gerardo,” said Father Paredes.
“I tell them, ‘This isn’t some idea floating around in the sky. This is real. It affects all of us.’ When my parishioners saw how the Annual Appeal directly affected them that made the difference. This year, we reached our goal of raising $51,000,” Father Paredes said.
Support of seminarian education was also a motivating factor for parishioners at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Dallas.
Father Cruz Calderón has been the parish priest at OLPH for only six months, having been transferred from St. Michael the Archangel in McKinney. He was not surprised by the generosity of his community, which borders Love Field.
“I know people in our community don’t have a lot of money, but they support the church any way they can,” he said, adding that OLPH reached its goal of $29,000.
“They knew where their money was going and for them supporting new priests was a priority,” he said. “When we hit our goal, I told them how grateful I felt for their support.”