Maybe it’s because the theme “Because I am Catholic” touches hearts. Maybe it’s because of the improved economy. Maybe it’s because of an earlier starting date. Maybe it’s because of more imaginative marketing, including social media. Maybe it’s the explanatory video.

The reason doesn’t really matter: What counts is that Philadelphia’s annual Catholic Charities Appeal is off to a flying start, and that is good news for the various programs of Catholic Social Services, schools for children with special needs and facilities for aged and infirmed priests who will benefit from it.

“We are definitely encouraged by the early results,” said Daniel Dougherty, the director of the Catholic Charities Appeal. “The support we have received will provide a lot of momentum as we work to achieve our goal. ‘Because I am Catholic’ hopefully resonates with a lot of people; it is certainly a call to action.”

Even given an early start (February instead of May as in the past), the Appeal is ahead of past years both in the number of donors and money either donated or pledged.

“This year we have 2,000 completely new donors, and we have more than 10,000 returning donors who did participate last year,” Dougherty said.

So far, Dougherty noted, more than $5.7 million has been received with an additional $500,000 pledged, which puts the overall $10 million goal well in reach.

“I’m always overwhelmed by the generosity of our people,” said Msgr. Gregory Parlante, who is chairman of the Priest Advisory Committee for the Appeal. “We have to remember the donations are to help the poor. Because of our baptismal obligation we are called to recognize the poor around us.”

The Catholic Charities Appeal is a separately incorporated 501(c)3 organization governed by a board of directors. For further information on how to participate see