In the difficult year of 2020, the faithful of the Diocese of Nashville responded to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries with impressive generosity.
As the 2021 Bishop’s Annual Appeal, with the theme “Be a Light for All to See,” kicks into high gear, Bishop J. Mark Spalding and the diocese are asking people once again to support the many ministries that support people and parishes.
“Last year, across our diocese, we had more people in need of our help than ever before: people struggling to put food on their table, people lonely and homebound, parishes and ministries working hard to keep people connected to their faith, and families struggling to deal with the economic and emotional fallout of the pandemic, while still providing safe housing for their children. There was just so much need,” Bishop Spalding wrote in a letter that was mailed to people across the diocese in January.
“And people like you stood up and helped,” he added. “I am so very grateful.”
At the start of a new year, Bishop Spalding asked people to reflect “on how you can continue to serve as a source of light and share God’s love with those around you.”
By making a gift to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries, the people of the diocese can come together “to create the beacon of light so many need in our diocese.”
The Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries supports a wide array of diocesan ministries, including educating the seminarians of the diocese, supporting parish religious education programs, helping people in need through the many services of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Nashville, youth and young adult faith formation, and Catholic schools.
“The appeal helps fund the ministries that happen every day within the diocese,” said Ashley Linville, director of development for the diocese. The diocesan ministries support the ministries active at the diocese’s churches, he added.
Pledge envelopes were available in the pews of churches at Masses the weekend of Feb. 13-14. But the COVID-19 pandemic has moved the diocese to try different ways to reach people.
“It will look a little different since our parishes look a little different right now,” Linville said of the appeal. “We’re doing more with social media and emails to share what the appeal is about and the ministries it serves.”
The diocese’s churches, where Mass attendance has dropped in the last year as many parishioners choose to watch Mass online rather than attend in person, are also using technology to ask people to give to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries, Linville said.
“A lot of our churches are emailing parishioners asking them to support the appeal. Some are putting appeals on their social media. Some are using bulletin inserts whether it’s online or in the pew,” he said.
The pandemic has shifted the diocese to focus on online giving, Linville said.
Even before the pandemic struck, the diocese already was looking to increase online giving where people can set up recurring gifts directly from a credit card or their bank account, Linville said. “It reinforced what we were thinking that online gifts are extremely important.”
“Our number of recurring gifts increased by about 600 percent” in the 2020 Appeal, he said. It will be an important part of the 2021 Appeal.
People can make an online gift at www.dioceseofnashville.com/appeal or they can text BISHOP to 615-552-1101.
Besides dropping a gift or pledge in the collection basket at Masses, people can mail their gift or pledge to Office of Stewardship and Development, Catholic Pastoral Center, 2800 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN 37214. Checks should be payable to Diocese of Nashville.
The goal for this year’s Appeal is $3 million, the same as the 2020 Appeal. Although the diocese fell short of the goal during a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and deadly tornadoes, the 2020 Appeal still was able to exceed the total for 2019.
“We were really humbled by the generosity of donors,” Linville said. “We had people at the end of the year who had already given send in extra gifts.”
Some people whose finances were adversely affected by the pandemic offered their support and prayers, Linville said. “And those that could, stepped up and supported it at an even higher level.
“That’s what our faith community is all about, helping others when they’re in need,” Linville said.
People who have been helped by the diocese’s ministries in the past were “able to give back now so others can benefit,” Linville said. “A lot of people have paid it forward this year.”
For more information, contact Linville at 615-645-9768 or Ashley.Linville@dioceseofnashville.com.