My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
On behalf of the people who are served throughout our Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens, we begin the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal by thanking those who generously responded to the 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal. Thanks to your support, the challenges we faced in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic were met by the Church and, as a result, our community faith grew stronger.
If it were not for the commitment of parishioners throughout the Diocese to the Annual Catholic Appeal each year, the responsibility to provide the basic services and ministries of the Diocese of Brooklyn would be impossible. Each year, loyal contributors to the Appeal give more support ensuring these needs are met. Unfortunately, we also see that fewer people are contributing as some move away from the Diocese, passed away, or find themselves unable to contribute. If you are not already a participant, we ask you to please come forward to find out more about the Annual Catholic Appeal.
I want to assure you that we stand committed to full transparency and respect your wishes regarding the ministries you intend your donation to support. Your gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal cannot be, and will not be, used for the settlement of any sexual abuse victim claims or for anything other than the intended purposes outlined in Appeal materials. An independent audit by Grassi & Company is available at CFBQ.org under “Accountability.”
When we say that we are the Church, together, it speaks to the idea that while each of us is called to serve Christ in his or her own special way, Jesus calls us to come together — as one Church — to care for the vulnerable in our Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens and to share His Good News. Who does your offering to the Annual Catholic Appeal support? Those who are hungry, without shelter, without access to Catholic education, men discerning the priesthood or diaconate, and those who are ill and dying are just a few of the groups who depend upon your generosity to the Annual Catholic Appeal. The ministries made possible through a gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal go beyond the abilities of any one parish, while benefiting all parishioners who make up our Diocese.
The Annual Catholic Appeal supports the Catholic Youth Ministry Initiative through Brooklyn and Queens. Our Catholic Youth Ministry Initiative has made great strides in increasing its impact on our youth. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Initiative have used social media, zoom and virtual retreats, and days of reflection in order to engage our young Catholics, support them in their faith and give them hope in Christ. Your support through the ACA helps provide salaries for the youth ministers, grants for ongoing program resources, and professional development.
The impact of COVID-19 has also created greater demand on the need for Catholic education tuition assistance from those seeking to send their children to our Catholic academies and schools. Whether due to the loss of a job, a family member, or the move from another school system, the need to help those seeking a Catholic education is greater than it has ever been before. Support of the Annual Catholic Appeal makes it possible for the Diocese to identify children who would not otherwise be able to attend Catholic school and provide them with the tuition assistance they deserve through Futures in Education. Catholic education is critical to the life of the Diocese of Brooklyn because it ensures the future of our Church in Brooklyn and Queens. Currently, there are 19,174 children studying in 69 Catholic Elementary Schools and Academies.
An additional 50,153 students are enrolled in parish religious education programs for those not attending Catholic schools. This year, our parish religious education programs have been innovated and reimagined to keep up with the challenges of the pandemic. Thanks to the support provided by donors to the Annual Catholic Appeal, the Office of Faith Formation worked with parish Directors of Religious Education to implement virtual classrooms, online registration, multimedia resources, and guidelines for limited in-person activities, keeping everyone safe while also growing in the Spirit.
The 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal also makes it possible for the Church to welcome the stranger among us through its support of Catholic Migration Services. Thanks to your commitment to the Appeal, Catholic Migration Services, along with Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, reaches out to those in need of legal assistance, housing, food, socialization, and childcare. With the help of the Annual Catholic Appeal in 2020, Catholic Charities addressed the over 2,000% increase in demand for food services experienced in Brooklyn and Queens.
The life of every parish within the Diocese of Brooklyn depends heavily on the dedicated work of our priests and deacons. Your support of the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal is crucial in fostering vocations by sustaining programs that allow men to hear and respond to God’s call to the priesthood and the permanent diaconate. You also support the 49 men preparing to become priests and 48 men preparing to become permanent deacons, all currently studying in our seminary and formation programs.
The 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal allows us to support our Catholic Chaplaincies in non-Catholic colleges and universities, hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions throughout Brooklyn and Queens. The work of a Catholic Chaplain was never more significant as it is now — ensuring that none of the faithful of Brooklyn and Queens are denied access to the sacraments while hospitalized.
Our Retired Priests who are not able to live independently are helped by the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal as well. At the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, 49 rooms are dedicated to our senior priests in the Bishop Mugavero Residence. This home provides a dignified and safe community experience for priests needing assisted living.
This year, so many in our Diocese will find themselves in need as a result of the impacts of the COVID virus. Your commitment to the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal, no matter how large or how small, ensures the success of the mission of the Church in Brooklyn and Queens. We are the Church, together, when we are able to cast our nets and put out into the deep, becoming fishers of women and men. We are grateful for your partnership in the Lord’s work and invite you to join with your neighbors to live your faith and make so many good works possible through your commitment to the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal.
Follow Bishop DiMarzio on: Twitter @BpDiMarzio