Catholic Free Press

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New committee looks to next year’s appeal

Posted By March 8, 2012 | 1:06 pm | Lead Story #1

By Tanya Connor

Pastors have responded to the new Partners in Charity Advisory Committee with goodwill and cooperation, according to Michael P. Gillespie, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development, which coordinates the annual charity appeal.
He said he thought this is because the priests see more people and a variety of people from different parish sizes and parts of the diocese working with each other on the campaign and encouraging other parishes to reach the goal, which is $5 million, the same as last year.
Mr. Gillespie said he invited 15 priests and a laywoman to gather last fall and brainstorm about the appeal’s successes and challenges. Out of that meeting came the sense that it would be important to form an advisory committee which included laity. Soon after that the 13-member committee, which includes Bishop Rueger, priests, a deacon and laity, was formed.
“We’re looking at Partners with a new set of eyes,” at new ways to do things and new things to do, Mr. Gillespie said. When something is done annually “it has the tendency to become automatic,” so it needs periodic renewal, he said.
The committee looks at issues the appeal faces, including why giving is important and how to encourage donors to continue giving, why some stopped giving, how to help parishioners see Partners’ impact on them and their parish and how to help priests see its effects on their retirement, and whether to change parish goals, Mr. Gillespie said.
“We give because we have a need to give, in gratitude,” Mr. Gillespie said. “We’re called to make a return back to God.” That collective giving helps 28 ministries and agencies to help numerous people with various needs, he said. The more money that is contributed the greater impact it can make.
“We want to be accountable; Partners in Charity is making a difference in the lives of so many,” Mr. Gillespie said.
The appeal’s name demonstrates what it’s about, he said: “It’s not the bishop’s fund; it’s really people helping people; it’s a circle of giving.”
So the committee looks at how to be agents of hope, bridging the “disconnect” that some former donors feel, which has led them to stop giving, he said. The committee also looks at the other side of the coin – how Partners changes people’s lives – he said.
The committee’s ideas and suggestions are brought to Bishop McManus for his consideration. Mr. Gillespie said he has used some of the suggestions, but because this year’s campaign is already in place, much of what committee members are doing is research for next year’s campaign.
Members of the new Partners in Charity Advisory Committee are: Michael P. Gillespie, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development; Father Michael Broderick, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Whitinsville; Bishop Rueger; Father Ernest P. Allega, pastor of St. Thomas-A-Becket Parish in South Barre; Anne Good, Partners coordinator at St. George Parish in Worcester; Father Charles F. Monroe, pastor of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Worcester; Father Nicholas Desimone, associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Charlton; Patricia Halpin of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in West Boylston; Msgr. Robert K. Johnson, rector of St. Paul Cathedral; Father James J. Caldarella, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish in Princeton; Father James M. Steuterman, pastor of St. Richard of Chichester Parish in Sterling; Deacon Wesley S. Stevens, serving at St. Roch Parish in Oxford, and Diane Cetin, Partners coordinator at St. Joseph Parish in Charlton.