“Because we are Catholic, we can accomplish great things together for friends, family neighbors and our entire community,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert in the video shown at the kickoff for the Because We Are Catholic Campaign.
The 2020 kickoff was held March 9 at St. Jerome Regional School in Tamaqua. Guests were greeted by student ambassadors from grades 5 through 8 who offered tours to those in attendance.
“The students are really proud of this school and are excited to show it off to everyone in the Diocese,” commented Amy Hannis-Kar, principal. The school, which houses nearly 250 students, pre-K through eighth grade, is in its second year in the current building.
“We made some changes this year, most notably in the name. It is no longer the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. It is now the ‘Because We Are Catholic Campaign.’ The Bishop encouraged the change in name because the success of this effort comes from the generosity of the people, the hard work of our pastors and people all over the Diocese,” said Paul Acampora, secretary of stewardship and development for the Diocese.
The changes for the campaign were not limited to the name. Acampora added, “You will notice a change in the video. It shows the joy of the work being done in the Diocese through the appeal. We also changed the locations for our events this year. We are holding them in diocesan schools to highlight some of the organizations that receive support from this appeal.”
Marian Carty, one of the trustees, spoke saying, “Consider being a part of a community of people who will help sooth sorrows, heal hearts, dry tears and strengthen tomorrows in our own community. We operate with transparency and accountability. You the faithful can be assured your gift will be allocated to the specific charities for which it is intended.”
In 2012, the Diocese established a trust for the appeal. The document provides oversight of trust advisors, with a committee of 12 volunteers that includes community leaders and parishioners with financial and business backgrounds from across the Diocese.
Their mission is to strive to meet the Catholic social and material needs of the people in the Diocese, with appropriate provisions in place to make sure that the funds are allocated as prescribed through the trust document.
The funds from the appeal can only be used to support those ministries throughout the Diocese. Required legal protections are in place to ensure that the compliance happens. The appeal funds are restricted and limited, and are separate from all other diocesan funds.
Speaking near the end of the event, Bishop Schlert said, “This is not about me. We want this to be about the people who are served by the generosity of our people. What better way for us to witness to our Catholic faith than to be united in a cause of charity in the name of Christ, being a source of support, solace and sustenance through our works to people in our community.
“The services are bigger than any one school, parish or institution in the Diocese could provide on their own. That is the synergy of the Catholic people coming together and working in service to be the light of Christ to each other and to our community.”
Mark Scarbinsky, a trustee, said, “The Lenten season is a perfect time for launching the campaign. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As we travel through Lent, we are granted the opportunity of changing people’s lives by reaching out of ourselves. This could be a real game changer for each of us spiritually.”
The campaign, which has not officially begun, has already received more than $675,000 in donations. Last year’s appeal raised more than $4.5 million. This year’s goal is $4.45 million, which helps to fund projects, programs and ministries serving children, adults and families in the Diocese of Allentown.
The other kickoffs scheduled for Monday, March 30 at Mercy School for Special Learning, Allentown, and Wednesday, April 1 at Berks Catholic High School, Reading, have been cancelled.
To see the video or make a gift online, go to www.BecauseWeAreCatholic.org.