Since 1993, the Archbishop’s Appeal has raised some $50 million in funding and provided more than $9 million to parishes as rebates from the appeal. In addition, the office has facilitated the procurement of more than $15 million in grants during that time.
The history of the Archbishop’s Appeal can be said to have begun with the need to raise monies for construction during the tenure of Archbishop Robert E. Lucey (1941-1969). Two capital campaigns were conducted at that time. The first campaign provided support to Saint John’s Seminary, a campaign was also conducted to build three Catholic high schools, Antonian, Holy Cross and La Salle, which is no longer in operation.
Between 1983 and 1986, additional funding was needed and Archbishop Patrick Flores conducted a $4.5 million capital campaign. As a result, $4.7 million was pledged and $3.6 million was collected. With the success of the campaign, the pastors recommended that the archbishop conduct an annual appeal to supplement archdiocesan revenue.In 1986, the initial goal of the appeal was established at $1.2 million. During 1987, the Holy Father visited San Antonio and a state-wide fundraising effort was conducted to support that visit. As a result, some $500,000 of the fundraising efforts in the archdiocese was redirected to the Papal Visit and the goal for that year was reduced to $900,000.
In 1988 the centerpiece of the appeal was funding the building of Casa de Padres, the current archdiocesan retirement center for priests. Again, the appeal reached its $1.2 million goal. The appeal campaign was conducted by then-Auxiliary Bishop Edmond Carmody in 1988 as primarily an in-pew effort.
At the beginning of 1993, Archbishop Flores established the Appeal Pastor’s Committee comprised of one representative from each of the 14 deaneries. This committee served as an advisory board on the appeal and made recommendations to the archbishop concerning the goal, grant recipients and funding levels for the appeal.
As a result of deliberations made the Appeal Pastor’s Committee, the appeal was named the Archbishop’s Appeal. Goals were set at $1.2 million in 1993-94 to $1.75 million in 2004-05 with $2.4 million raised in 2000-01, the highest amount raised during this period. The number of donors to the appeal grew from 5,700 in 1992 to 20,134 in 2005.
In 2006, the appeal underwent another structural change under the direction of Archbishop José H. Gomez to meet the need for increased funding for social services while providing support for archdiocesan agencies that assist the many needs of the parishes, catholic schools and future church leaders. A direct mail component was added at the archdiocesan level.
The Office of Archbishop’s Appeal and Grants was made a separate office during this time and continues to coordinate the direct mail program as well as oversee the In-Pew effort made by parishes in an effort to help pastors with the administrative responsibilities of conducting the appeal. Under the new structure, the appeal grew to $4.6 million in collected contributions with 25,577 donors in 2014.
In June 2014 the Appeal Priest Committee met to consider changes in the Appeal process to better focus on the needs of the Archdiocese. This effort resulted in the establishment of a new committee to led the efforts of the Appeal ministry, the Appeal Steering Committee. The Appeal Steering Committee is comprised of two clergy, one of whom will serves as Chair, two staff members, a lay person (Appeal donor), a representative of the Finance Committee, and the Moderator of the Curia or the Vicar General. The Appeal Steering Committee meets annually to make determine funding allocations as a recommendation to the Presbyteral Council and His Excellency, Archbishop.
In 2015 and 2016, the Appeal exceeded the $4.5 Million goal to assist more than 35 agencies and programs that provide services throughout the archdiocese including Catholic Charities, St. Peter-St. Joseph Children's Home and Seton Home. The appeal will assist the efforts of parishes through the archdiocesan offices it funds which offer pastoral, evangelization, administrative and faith formation support and it will provide support or the Seminarian Fund, the Priest Pension Plan and tuition assistance for Catholic Schools through Hope for the Future.
Conducting each year’s appeal campaign involves producing more than 500,000 pieces including parish manuals, brochures, informational DVDs, bulletin inserts and pledge envelopes. It sends in excess of 400,000 pieces of mail and requires more than 3,000 man hours of data entry. The Appeal Office provides speakers, holds meeting and plans the special events that kick off every campaign.
In addition to its fundraising efforts, the Office of Archbishop’s Appeal and Grants provides development support by providing support to parishes, schools and agencies in grant submissions and assist parishes in developing good stewardship practices.
The Office of Archbishop’s Appeal and Grants looks forward to the continued growth in the Appeal and providing the services needed for the fiscal well-being of the Archdiocese of San Antonio in the future.