By Christopher Polito and Michael Murphy

The Catholic Charities Appeal is the most important fundraising initiative the Archdiocese conducts annually. It is the lifeblood of the Church. Without the Catholic Charities Appeal, families, children, inspaniduals living below the poverty line, inspaniduals in need of specialized attention or support, families in need of spiritual and emotional guidance and those who are unable to receive federal or state benefits could not survive.

The Catholic Charities Appeal provides funding to organizations that maintain, and in many instances, saves lives and provides livelihood for the people of Greater Philadelphia.

The 2011 Catholic Charities Appeal, “Open Your Heart. Open a Door” was established as a separate 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The hope is to not only raise the much-needed funds for the 82 programs and services supported by the Appeal but also educate the lay faithful as to what services are provided, who receives those benefits and what the impact is for those most in need. {{more}}

One such program is St. Francis-Joseph Homes for children, a system of groups homes established for orphaned or abandoned youths. Richard Robinson, himself a graduate, spoke to more than 100 donors at a Catholic Charities Appeal dinner at Maternity B.V.M. Parish in Philadelphia. He thanked them for their annual support and reminded them the agency “and so many other programs like it could not survive without the Catholic Charities Appeal.”

Robinson, a former Army medic who served in Bosnia, also spoke about his role as a youth care worker at Don Guanella School. The school, also a beneficiary of the Catholic Charities Appeal, is an education program for boys and young men with cognitive and developmental disabilities that provide residential and rehabilitative services.

On May 2, the Archdiocese held its annual Catholic Charities Appeal Kickoff Dinner at St. Helena Parish in Blue Bell. More than 250 attendees were treated to a concert by students from St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments.

“Almost 43 percent of the operating budget for St. Lucy Day School and Archbishop Ryan Academy for the Deaf is funded by the Catholic Charities Appeal,” said Sister Meg Fleming, principal of St. Lucy’s.

Since 1955, St. Lucy School has provided academic instruction and training in all areas of a core curriculum imperative for visually impaired students as they prepare for the challenges of life and the pursuit of higher education. Similarly, Archbishop Ryan School for the Deaf provides a strong core academic model while emphasizing sign-supported speech and language development.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is pleased to report that, as of June 3, the 2011 Catholic Charities Appeal has raised $6,080,949.

“The charitable support and the desire to embrace the mission of Jesus Christ is at the core of Christian stewardship,” said Msgr. Francis W. Beach, Cardinal Justin Rigali’s delegate for stewardship and development. “To date, we are encouraged by the lay faithful’s response and generosity to this year’s Appeal. As we continue to reach out to donors over the remaining weeks of the CCA, we ask for your help so our Church may strengthen its impact among those most in need.”

“There is no other non-profit organization in the Delaware Valley that has the spanerse reach and grassroots impact as Catholic Charities,” said James Quinlan, vice president of the CCA 501(c)(3) board of directors. “Every inspanidual within this Archdiocese has been personally impacted, or knows someone who was, by Catholic Charities.”

For more information or to make a gift online, visit

The writers represent the archdiocesan Office for Stewardship and Development.