Charitable appeals made in parishes across the Edmonton Archdiocese will be rolled into one starting in Lent 2014.
Collections ranging from Development and Peace's Share Lent appeal to the requests for funds for St. Joseph Seminary, Newman Theological College and St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta will all be part of the annual appeal known as Together We Serve.
Other collections held in parishes that will become part of the 2014 Together We Serve are Evangelization of Nations, Needs of the Canadian Church, Needs of the Church in the Holy Land, Papal Charities and the St. Joseph's Priests' Foundation of Edmonton.
The Catholic Social Services' Sign of Hope campaign will run a separate parish campaign in the fall of 2014, but will become part of Together We Serve in 2015.
Archbishop Richard Smith said one reason for the joint appeal is to overcome "donor fatigue" which is the result of "multiple asks" for different organizations.
Unlike similar collections in other dioceses where some of the money collected goes to diocesan operations, all the funds raised in Together We Serve will go to charities that run parish-based collections, Smith said in an interview.
Archdiocesan operations will continue to be funded out of the cathedraticum – an assessment that is levied on parishes based on their ordinary Sunday revenues.
The goal of the 2014 campaign is $1.6 million, an amount similar to the combined total that has been raised in the collections in recent years. Each parish will have its own target based on its recent combined total for the collections, the archbishop said.
If a parish exceeds its target, it will be able to retain 60 per cent of the surplus for its own special needs, such as a building fund or its own charities, he said. The other 40 per cent will go on a pro-rated basis to the institutions that are part of Together We Serve.
Smith said that while the fundraising campaign will only take place in Lent, people may spread their donations out over the whole year. "We'll make this the one time of the year that we ask people to support these organizations."
Parishioners will be able to make pre-authorized monthly donations through credit or debit cards.
Another reason for the joint collection, the archbishop said, is for the archdiocese to be in tune with the signals Pope Francis is giving to "be very intentional and think about what it means to be a disciple."
By virtue of being baptized, each person is called to bring the love of Christ to those on the margins of society, he said. "We're called to reach out to those who live on the periphery and bring to them the love of Christ."
One way of doing that is through gifts of our financial resources to organizations that help the poor and those that are engaged in handing on the faith, he said.
Helping Catholic educational institutions is part of that task of reaching out to those on the margins. "We're not just another non-governmental organization; we're motivated by the Gospel," Smith said. "The Gospel is the one message that brings true hope."
Funding educational institutions that help spread the faith is an essential part of reaching out to those on the periphery, he said.
The archbishop said people are, of course, free to give directly to any of the organizations that will be part of Together We Serve. However, the archdiocese hopes that people contribute to the annual appeal as part of the Church's communal responsibility to support these institutions.
The organizations themselves will continue to do other forms of fundraising, he said. Together We Serve is only intended to consolidate the collections that are carried out in parishes. It will not bring a halt to other methods of raising money in which these organizations engage.