Catholic Charities ‘Blessed’ to have Support from Bishop’s Annual Appeal (Tennessee Register, Andy Telli)

Posted 05/04/2018

Catholic Charities of Tennessee often is the face of the Church in the community. It is there to provide job training to the jobless, to help a homeless person rebuild their life, to help a child deal with fallout from trauma in their lives, to help couples give a child a loving home, to help a refugee navigate life in America.

As Catholic Charities reaches out to help those in need, it receives an important boost from the Bishop's Annual Appeal for Ministries, which provides crucial funding.

"We are reliant on the Bishop's Annual Appeal funds because we're serving poor and vulnerable people in all communities," said Pam Russo, executive director of Catholic Charities. "The donated dollars from parishes help us help people who are homeless, who are jobless, who need healthcare, who have suffered childhood trauma, who need counseling. ...

"The Bishops Annual Appeal is a lifeline for us to keep the safety net programs in place," she said. "We are so blessed to have it."

The Bishop's Annual Appeal for 2018, with the motto "To whom much is given, much will be required," was launched in April with the goal of raising $2.5 million, a 20 percent increase over last year's Appeal. Another goal is 6,000 donors who give any amount, which would be a 25 percent increase from last year. As of April 27, the Appeal has raised $516,678 - 20 percent of the goal - from 1,590 donors - 26 percent of the goal.

The money raised will be used to help support a wide variety of ministries in the Diocese of Nashville, including adult faith formation, youth and young adult ministry, seminarian education, marriage and family ministry, Catholic Charities and many more.

Catholic Charities has 67 programs, which last year helped more than 9,000 people, Russo said. "They came from all faith backgrounds, regardless of their ability to pay."

"Pretty much everything benefits from the Bishops Annual Appeal," Russo said.

The agency receives about $500,000 from the Bishop's Annual Appeal. In preparing the budget, Catholic Charities' staff identifies state and federal grants and other sources of revenue for each of its programs, Russo explained. If those grants don't pay the full cost of providing a service, funds from the Bishop's Annual Appeal are used to fill the gaps, she said.

"We can make sure the programs are whole," Russo said.

The money from the Bishop's Annual Appeal goes directly to helping clients and providing services, Russo said.

One of the programs that benefits from the Bishop's Annual Appeal is Catholic Charities' counseling programs, which include individual, marriage and family therapy, school counseling and counseling for children who have experienced trauma.

"Family counseling can be very expensive," Russo said, which is why Catholic Charities offers the service on a sliding fee scale based on a client's income. "Without the Bishops Annual Appeal we couldn't have a sliding fee scale."

Schools contract with Catholic Charities to provide counseling services for their students in need, Russo said, but the fees the schools pay don't fully cover the cost of providing that counseling. Funds from the Bishop's Annual Appeal subsidize that service, she said.

In one recent example, Catholic Charities was able to help a woman who was facing eviction as she was undergoing treatment for cancer, Russo said. Catholic Charities staffers were able to use funds from the Bishop's Annual Appeal to keep the woman in her apartment during her treatment, and she is now in recovery.

The aim of Catholic Charities programs is to build self-sufficiency and resiliency in their clients, Russo said.

"We really work on that resiliency. ... They'll be stronger and empowered," Russo said. "Without the Bishop's Annual Appeal we can't do that."

Russo and her staff are willing and available to visit parishes and other groups to talk about how the Bishop's Annual Appeal helps Catholic Charities. "I'm not sure people realize the difference it makes to agencies like ours," she said.

Bishop J. Mark Spalding and the diocesan staff are working closely with pastors to make the Bishop's Annual Appeal a success.

As a former pastor himself, Bishop Spalding is aware that pastors' support is important for the success of the Appeal.

"I always want to thank our pastors for their support for the Bishop's Annual Appeal for Ministries," Bishop Spalding has said. "The pastor is THE leader of the parish. When he speaks, people do listen. And if he stands before us and says this appeal is worthy, overwhelmingly people will support it.

"That's why I'm grateful, even though at times the ask is not easy for them," Bishop Spalding added. "They overcome that difficulty because they are mindful of the good the various ministries do for the parish."

The Bishop's Annual Appeal for Ministries was launched in April, and people still have an opportunity to make a donation, gift or pledge now and throughout the year.

The diocese has made it easy to pledge. Parishioners can fill out their pledge card and turn it in at Masses, or they can make a pledge or gift online at

Gifts can be made monthly, quarterly or annually, and people can pay by credit card, check or by a gift of stocks.

People also can mail their gift or pledge to Bishop's Annual Appeal for Ministries, Diocese of Nashville, 2800 McGavock Pike, Nashville, Tennessee 37214.

For more information, contact Sandra Jordan at or 615-783-0267.


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