It has been quite a long time here at Saint John since we discussed the Catholic Faith Appeal (CFA), the Diocese of Venice annual assessment of all parishes that assists with many programs here in Southwest Florida. While we have been focused this past year on recovering from Hurricane Irma, finalizing a spectacular Capital Campaign that allowed us to open our Pulte Family Life Center this past week, renewing every square inch of our campus, and continuing to give directly to those in need in our area, we cannot forget our responsibility to the Diocese. From the Catholic Charities support for Golden Gate Senior Citizens and Immokalee Migrant Workers, to the Seminarian programs, the CFA is an essential program that we must focus our gifts to in any way we can.
It has come to my attention that many of our Parish Family members may not understand the CFA and what it is for. It is not a “tax” of 26 % on our church. The CFA is a Diocesan contribution in which all the members of the churches in Southwest Florida work together to support the central services we all rely on at Catholics and active community members. There are several essential efforts that rely on the CFA:
- Catholic Charities: As a leading provider of social services, Catholic Charities supports over 40,000 people with programs like direct assistance to pay their utility bills, emergency intake programs for those that have become homeless, ending human trafficking in our backyard, citizenship assistance, and veteran housing.
- Catholic Schools: It costs a tremendous amount to provide a high-quality education, and the CFA supports the Catholic Schools in the area to ensure all members of our community can have access to this faith-based education system through high school
- Vocations: From the Seminarian programs that instruct our future priests and deacons to providing support for the 35 different women’s religious orders and 26 different communities of brothers and priests within the Diocese, the CFA ensures we provide for the education and well-being for those who have dedicated their lives in service to us and our faith.
One component of the CFA that is not discussed frequently, however, is the set of programs that the CFA supports for our Parish Family. Below are a few of the initiatives that we could not accomplish here at St. John without the CFA:
- Marriage Preparation: All the Diocese marriage programs needed to be married at Saint John the Evangelist are funded completely through the CFA. If a Parish Family member is going to be married here, they have the ability to be prepared at St. John for their future together.
- Religious Education: The Diocese supports our youth and our adult Faith Formation programs with materials, schedules and additional catechesis opportunities. The CFA supports the certification of our catechists and the development of the schedules for Confirmation.
- Good Works: From the 40 Days for Life to Immigration Support for our Parishioners, the CFA provides resources for the good works of the parish. We give so others can have a better life, from picking themselves up with our direct support to supporting social justice initiatives.
Every year, the Diocese of Venice places a goal for each parish to provide a certain amount towards an overall need of the Diocese. It is true that St. John has been one of the primary supporters of the CFA, and in fact we have normally been one of the largest contributor parishes. For 2018, we have been asked to contribute $521,000, the third highest in the Diocese. We have understandably been focused on our Capital Campaign and the complete restoration and renewal of our campus. However, that has made it difficult for us to reach our CFA goal, and we currently stand at $270,409.11, less than 52%. That is a large gap, and it will require the parish to direct our resources from operational efforts and potentially savings to cover the shortfall.
If you have any end-of-the-year giving you are planning provide to our Parish Family, I would request that you prayerfully consider providing that stewardship to the Catholic Faith Appeal in Saint John the Evangelist’s name. Thank you all for your continued support and engagement in our church!