CHARLESTON – Funding levels of the Bishop Stewardship Appeal are down and in order to continue support of many ministries throughout the Diocese of Charleston Bishop Robert J. Baker has designated the weekend of May 3 and 4 as a Special Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal weekend.
The BSA is an annual fund-raising campaign that financially supports various ministries and organizations of the diocese such as Catholic Charities, Catholic education, right-to-life organizations while providing operating support for centralized diocesan services. The appeal kicks off the first weekend of February each year and concludes Dec. 31.
This collection is an additional effort to promote and support the ministries and organizations that are funded directly by the Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal. “Currently the BSA is approximately 20 percent behind last year’s contributions at this point in the fund drive,” said Michael J. Gocsik, diocesan secretary of Stewardship and Mission Advancement. “Based on our current contributions, the diocese would be unable to provide any grant support to vital ministries and outreach efforts for next fiscal year unless collections increase.”
The fiscal year for the Diocese of Charleston begins July 1.
“This situation is unprecedented in the history of this appeal,” Gocsik said.
The Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal, formerly known as the Diocesan Development Fund, was instituted under Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler in 1962. According to Gocsik, the BSA levels are low because of several factors.
“Given the events of the past year and a half with the sex abuse scandal, one could easily conclude that that circumstance alone would cause the drop off of donations, however, this would only be one small piece of a very large puzzle,” he said.
Other factors the Stewardship secretary cited are the downturn in the economy, the war with Iraq, increased unemployment, and an overall decrease in the discretionary income of contributing households.
“It should also be said that with the steady influx of new parishioners in the state, many people might be unaware of what the Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal is,” Gocsik said. “Therefore, we are going to use the weekend of May 3 and 4 to share additional information of what the BSA is, who it serves, and how they can support it with the people of the diocese.”
The Stewardship Office will mail out special requests for funding to people who have yet to give to the appeal and each parish will also make an appeal over the collection weekend.
How to help
To make a donation to the Bishop’s Stewardship Appeal make checks payable to Diocese of Charleston and send to the Office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement, P.O. Box 300, Charleston, SC 29402.