By RENEE WEBB
Money raised each year through the Diocesan Annual Appeal supports the pastoral, educational, spiritual and human services that benefit thousands of families throughout the Diocese of Sioux City each year.
According to Allison Liska, diocesan director of planned giving and annual gifts, DAA kicks off the second weekend in September each year.
“This year the launch weekend will be Sept. 8 and 9,” she said. “Priests, deacons or a lay representative will speak about DAA at all Masses. They may talk about where DAA funds go and how it benefits the parish.”
The 2018-2019 diocesan goal is the same as it has been for the last several years – $1.65 million.
This year’s DAA theme – The Church is Always in Need of Renewal – was held over from the last few years as it fittingly ties in with the diocesan focus on revitalization and renewal through pastoral planning.
In the week that follows the kickoff weekend, Liska noted, each registered household will receive a letter and case statement in the mail that offers greater details as to which diocesan offices and ministries receive DAA dollars.
“DAA can help anywhere from students receiving tuition assistance (through the Bishop’s Education Fund) to helping Catholic Charities and our safe environment program,” she said. “With the revitalization of parishes and reconnecting to your parish family, DAA will help to support many programs throughout the individual parishes.”
While more than 43 percent of the funds go directly back to parishes to support local ministries, a large portion of the money is used to fund diocesan programs that are available to all parishes such as various formation programs and educational resources like formed.org. Along with ministry programs, DAA dollars fund support services such as parish accounting and human resource services for parishes and schools.
Last year 623 individuals from throughout the diocese received VIRTUS safe environment training to help keep children safe.
According to Dan Ellis, diocesan safe environment coordinator, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth mandates that each diocese must maintain a safe environment program.
“These programs are responsible to ensuring that all diocesan entities are in compliance with a set of standards for protecting children and youth from sexual abuse set out by the charter,” he said. “The USCCB does not provide any funding for the safe environment programs. All funds come from the local diocese and in our case, all the funding comes from DAA.”
Ellis explained DAA dollars help fund the staff, database and programs affiliated with keeping a safe environment, such as VIRTUS training, background checks and code of conduct acknowledgements. These services are provided to all clergy, diocesan staff, parishes, Catholic schools and other Catholic entities such as nursing homes, child-care facilities and Catholic Charities.
“The Catholic Church is currently under a spotlight and our diocese must maintain this critically important program to demonstrate that we take seriously our commitment to do all we can to keep our children and youth protected from sexual abuse,” the safe environment coordinator said. “We cannot ever become complacent about our commitment. Consequently, the DAA funds we receive are essential to maintaining the same diligent level of oversite since we began our program.”
Amy Bloch, executive director of Catholic Charities, said DAA dollars are a vital part of how the agency can serve so many families throughout the diocese.
“They go to three key areas: helping families in crisis, supporting our Pathways program and providing mental health services to families who are unable to pay for them,” she said.
The families in crisis program provides financial assistance to a family who may find themselves unable to pay for a utility bill or rent. Catholic Charities provides not only financial assistance but connects them with community resources.
“Our Pathways program provides free mental health assessments to any school-age child within the diocese,” Bloch said. “We hope to intervene early to prevent more serious problems from developing in the future.”
Finally, she explained, Catholic Charities has many individuals and couples who need mental health services.
“Even if they have insurance, they often have high deductibles or co-insurance that make it difficult to access therapy services.” Bloch said. “DAA dollars provide assistance so that they are able to receive counseling that supports keeping their family together. We are here to serve those who are greatest in need, and never turn anyone away.”
One thousand families were served by Catholic Charities last year alone.
Liska pointed out that each parish has a DAA goal based on each parish’s ordinary income that includes, but is not limited to, weekly envelope giving, investment earnings, rental income and festival earnings. Once a parish meets its diocesan support goal, everything above that is given back to the parish. With that in mind, she noted, some parishes use it as their primary fundraiser for the year.
“It is important to prayerfully consider making a gift to DAA,” she said. “It is something that you have to decide between you and God what your gift will be but know that your gift is truly helping your parish and other individuals in your parish.”
This year’s DAA will conclude on June 15, 2019.
Most parishioners choose to turn in their gifts at church, but donations can be made online at scdiocese.org/daa. Pledges are accepted.