April 16, 2021
Pastors and volunteer lay leaders attended the 2021 Progress: Catholic Ministry Appeal kick-off on March 31. The event was held virtually; ministry leaders shared videos of the impact of their work and resources were shared on-screen, vividly illustrating that this is no ordinary year for the Church. Attendees were treated to raffle prizes, including gifts of wine, restaurant gift cards, books and more.
The virtual format illustrated that even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the many vital programs and services are still bearing fruit. Such continuity is made possible, in large part, through diocesan Catholics’ financial support of the Progress: Catholic Ministry Appeal, said Bishop Mark Seitz.
“Each gift is very much appreciated,” he said. “But the help the Diocese offers our community has never been needed by so many. The ongoing need for critical programs and services that the Diocese provides hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s grown.”
The 2021 appeal is underway in parishes across the 10-county diocese. This year’s goal is $1.9 million. Money raised through Progress represents 40 percent of all operating funds supporting the pastoral, spiritual, educational and human service programs that benefits every Catholic of the diocese.
"These are tumultuous times. So, whether you’re hungry, troubled, lonely, vulnerable, or in need, today or any day, we will always be a beacon of hope for you," said Linda Caro, Catholic Foundation Chief Operating Officer.
During the kick-off, Catholic Ministry Appeal Director Natalie Eckberg premiered the 2021 Annual Appeal video and Progress theme, "Love Builds Hope". The video highlights personal stories of those who have been impacted by services provided by diocesan ministries.
One of those stories comes from Alfonso Sandoval, a permanent deacon candidate.
He says, "As deacons, we will no longer be our own masters. We will be serving the people of God through the Church." This class of permanent deacons is the first to go through a master's program in pastoral studies. The Diocese provides 50 percent of the cost of their studies at St. Thomas University in Houston, but deacon candidates have to provide the other 50 percent to cover remaining tuition and books.
Funds raised through Progress will assist with those costs and allow the deacons to focus on their ministry.
“Many of us are husbands and fathers, and the money that is brought in by the Diocese ensures that it does not become a financial burden. We do this willingly and with an open heart but it can be very hard for some of us financially," said Sandoval.
The 2021 Progress: Catholic Ministry Appeal kick-off also highlighted the past successes of some of the Progress leaders, who shared tips and tricks for the newer volunteers who are learning the process. The following Progress leaders shared their expertise: Terry Avila, Our Lady of Guadalupe – Fabens; Colleen Bealy, St. Matthew; Robert Garibay, San Antonio de Padua; Carl Pataky, Queen of Peace, and Carmen Zamora of St. Jude. All are committed, long-term volunteers who dedicate countless hours to help their respective parishes succeed in every way.
“We are so grateful to these servant leaders for sharing their knowledge and wisdom,” said Caro. “Having Progress leaders support one another is incredibly helpful for those who are learning the process.”
In light of the pandemic, the Catholic Foundation is continuing plans for a hybrid campaign that will continue to utilize traditional methods, like the pew appeal and envelopes, and incorporate the increased use of technology such as Text-to-Give options for those who continue to practice social distancing.
For information on the Progress: Catholic Ministry Appeal and how you can support one of 15 impactful ministries, please contact Catholic Ministry Appeal Director Natalie Eckberg at 915.872.8412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Each gift is very much appreciated, but the help the Diocese offers our community has never been needed by so many. The ongoing need for critical programs and services that the Diocese provides hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s grown.” — Bishop Mark J. Seitz, D.D.