By Allyson Escobar
DOUGLASTON — Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio recognized “Court of Honor” donors to the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Annual Catholic Appeal in a celebration Sept. 14 at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston.
The Court of Honor is made up of more than 2,000 donors who pledged an amount of $1,000 or more this year.
“We’d like to honor them because they really are the heart and soul of the annual appeal,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “One-third of the money comes from the Court of Honor. So they’re very essential to us making the goal… It’s very important for the life of the diocese.”
Led by the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens, the Annual Catholic Appeal raises funds each year for programs, including vocation ministry, education, migration services, faith formation and Catholic Charities.
Last year, it exceeded its pledge goal through the successful Generations of Faith campaign.
A total of 31,733 donors — regular parishioners, those who work for the church, and a large group of priests of the diocese — contributed to the Annual Catholic Appeal 2019.
This year, Court members made up the largest (about half) percentage of giving — a total of about $8.7 million. The largest reported donation was $20,000.
“It’s an opportunity for the bishop and the staff to say thank you, and to give updates to our donors on where their money is going,” said John Heyer, director of the Appeal. “The Court of Honor has committed themselves at a certain level, and there is added responsibility on the part of the diocese to respond to those donors, to celebrate them at this reception, and hear their concerns. The Court of Honor, and all of our ACA donors, is the Catholic family.”
Pledge efforts have had a huge impact this year — an additional $1.1 million will go back to 92 parishes that have exceeded their pledge goals.
Heyer said the funds will go directly toward each church community’s needs, including renovations and programming. Last year, parishes were able to fund religious education, put up new lighting, fix air conditioning, even renovate church bells.
“The ACA is part of the greatest mission of the Gospel and of the Church,” Heyer said.
At the Court of Honor reception, Msgr. Jamie J. Gigantiello, Vicar for Development of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, assured donors that they are contributing to the overall life of the diocese, and not paying for legal abuse settlements.
(More specific information and a full audit of the Catholic Foundation can be found online.)
“There are many people in our diocese who are in need, both financially, and also of God in their lives. It’s up to us to continue [to] bring the Gospel to the people, and it isn’t the Gospel without the works of the ACA. This [fund] supports all the ministries which take place in our diocese — education, the elderly, evangelization, pastoral care — without your support this wouldn’t be possible.”
101-year-old Charles Rawlins, from St. Mary’s Winfield in Woodside, is the oldest, and one of the longest supporting members, of the Court of Honor.
Rawlins says that he loves everything about the Diocese he was born and raised in, and fully supports Bishop DiMarzio and the Catholic Foundation’s efforts.
“It feels good to give,” he said.
Jane Ann McGettrick, from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Astoria, said that the Brooklyn Diocese is “her second home.” She has contributed to the ACA’s annual goal for years.
“I have been actively involved in my parish, at my school [The Mary Louis Academy], and around the diocese for my whole life,” McGettrick said. “I feel very close to the diocese, they have many programs going on for the life of the church, and they’re as good as you can do. We have to always support the holy and blessed.”