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NOTE: The following letter was published in the July 27, 2017 edition of The Catholic Spirit, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Praised be Jesus Christ! We did it! By combining our talents, energy, resources and especially our prayers, we exceeded the 2017 Bishop's Annual Appeal goal by over one million dollars. As of July 17, pledges have reached $8,008,000 from more than 27,000 families. This was accomplished in a shorter time period and with less expenses within the new structure of the appeal. I am most grateful for the enthusiastic support of our clergy, lay leaders and all of our generous parishioners whose contributions made our success possible. The money donated this year is the highest amount the diocese has ever raised for our annual appeal and we had the highest number of donors in many years, too.
Meeting our financial target allows us to continue the vital ministries that serve thousands of people each day throughout Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties. In addition to continuing and enhancing our efforts in evangelization, youth-related ministries and pastoral life, the successful outcome of the appeal will assist our seminarians in receiving the education needed to prepare them to serve as shepherds of our parishes in the future and will allow our hospital chaplains to continue consoling and comforting patients and family members in the 17 hospitals and healthcare facilities within our diocesan boundaries. With $1.7 million dollars allocated to our Catholic Charities, we will be able to provide for the most poor and vulnerable among us.
Money raised over our goal will allow us to fund needed ministries that have been putting our diocese into deficit spending in recent years; so these above-goal funds will enable us to work at cutting that diocesan deficit we have been experiencing. Of course, we have been trimming our budget wherever possible too. I am truly grateful for your generosity, as are those who benefit each day from these needed ministries and outreach.
As a bonus, many of our parishes have taken advantage of the parish rebate incentive to raise additional funds for local needs. A new church roof, updated sound system, added programs for youth and a refurbished Mary Garden are just a few of the parish-based projects made possible through this appeal. Parish rebates are 50 percent of the amount collected over goal.
Thank you, again, for your overwhelming response. I am particularly grateful to our pastors and the parish coordinators of the appeal who worked so hard to ensure our success. Together, we are Ambassadors for Christ helping to make our world and our diocese a better place. God bless you and be assured you have my heartfelt gratitude and prayers.
With renewed best wishes, I remain yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend James F. Checchio, JCD, MBA
Bishop of Metuchen