Flowers aren’t the only sign of spring. On front lawns and around churches, and in the windows of schools and row homes, signs announce the beginning of this year’s Catholic Charities Appeal. The springtime tradition of raising money in the Archdiocese to fund the neediest of our brothers and sisters launches again this week. At Masses this weekend the second collection will be taken up for the appeal. Parishioners will also receive an invitation through the mail and find one in this newspaper.

Since 1958 the Catholic Charities Appeal has been the main means of funding programs as extensive as Catholic Social Services and as focused as the archdiocesan schools of special education. The 2010 appeal funds the kinds of programs that it always has. It tends to the needs of the homeless. It helps boys who found trouble early on to find a new path to success as young men. It helps children live in loving homes through adoption and foster care services. It supports local families who need help in numerous ways and helps seniors find friendship in their neighborhoods.

The annual appeal differs from the capital and endowment campaign, Heritage of Faith, Vision of Hope, currently underway in the Archdiocese. The latter will fund capital or “one-time” projects and establish endowment funds for six designated needs. The Charities appeal helps pay for the actual costs of operating the agencies that benefit from it. As one can imagine, the costs for any social service or educational program are significant, and the appeal helps keep them going year after year.

That is why the support of Catholics in the Archdiocese is so important. The gift that you place in the appeal envelope, or make online at, has a tangible and essential effect on the work of the Church to meet the varied needs of our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Your generous gift enables them to say with gratitude, “You gave me hope.”