Can you give us your thoughts on this year’s iGiveCatholic online giving campaign, which was even more successful than last year’s?
I thought it went extremely well, which shows how faith-filled and generous people are. I remember last year when The Catholic Foundation initiated the idea, they told me their goal was $500,000. I said, “Gee, I can’t imagine that you’d be able to raise that just online on one day.” Then, I was even more amazed that they more than doubled their goal. And now, this year, the 24 hours of giving resulted in donations more than $1.8 million for 323 Catholic nonprofits in our archdiocese and in five other dioceses around the South. This year we had more parishes, which was great. Parishes represented the largest number of participating organizations, and I think that’s wonderful because parishes are beginning to understand what this day means, and they embraced it. We know that this model works in New Orleans, and now we know we have a model that works outside of New Orleans and we can possibly transition this into a national Catholic day of giving. This was all the result of Charlie Heim, Cory Howat and Josephine Everly of The Catholic Foundation hearing about “Giving Tuesday” and then taking the ball and running with it so that people can give charitably, in a faith-filled way, and specifically to the Catholic Church.
Were you happy that five other dioceses joined you this year?
I was very happy. We were joined by the dioceses of Houma-Thibodaux and Baton Rouge in Louisiana, Biloxi and Jackson in Mississippi and Austin in Texas. We understand there are a number of dioceses that would like to join us next year. That kind of interest has prompted us to think about forming a separate entity that would run more of a national campaign – something like iGiveCatholic USA – so that the name would reflect the Catholic Church throughout the United States. I would envision bishops from around the country serving on the board. Charlie, Cory and Josephine told me that at the recent International Catholic Stewardship Conference, they did a separate workshop on iGiveCatholic, and it was attended by 100 people. Of that total, about 40 dioceses and Catholic foundations across the country submitted information to learn more about the 2017 campaign. They haven’t signed any commitment forms, but we know there is high interest.
Are you surprised that one day could capture people’s hearts and imaginations?
I’m less surprised than perhaps I would have been in the past, because a great deal of charitable giving today is done electronically. We have many people today who instead of putting money in the collection basket at Sunday Mass prefer to have their offertory giving withdrawn from their accounts. The online nature of iGiveCatholic makes it very convenient for people to give.
What does this say about stewardship?
When you say stewardship, most people think of dollars and cents, but the real understanding of stewardship, as we use it in the Catholic Church, is that we invite people to know and to identify how much God has given to them and then, in return, to respond in faith to give back to God and the church. We believe God gives us gifts to use and to offer as blessings to others. When we talk about stewardship, we’re talking about the giving of one’s time to make the church stronger and more dynamic in its spirit of evangelization. We’re talking about individuals identifying some of their specific talents to offer the church, whether that’s reading at Mass, serving as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, singing in the choir, working with the St. Vincent de Paul Society or teaching religious education. All of these gifts of time, talent and treasure build up the kingdom of God in a very special way.
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