Catholic Services Appeal helps Church ‘fuel the mission’ despite uncertain year

Catholics’ ‘overwhelming’ generosity allowed Church to serve thousands during pandemic’s worst; this year’s CSA launches May 15-16

During the month of May, Detroit Catholic is asking readers to prayerfully consider a gift to the Catholic Services Appeal, which funds more than 100 ministries vital to the Church in southeast Michigan, including this publication. Visit to support the mission by making a gift today. We are grateful for your generosity and prayers.

DETROIT — During the darkest days of the pandemic, Catholic-run soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food pantries continued to meet the needs of Metro Detroiters who’d lost jobs, incomes or health. 

Catholic schools continued to teach. Parishes livestreamed Masses to countless homes. New converts learned about the faith. Seminarians were formed for ministry, and evangelization continued in new and innovative ways

And it couldn’t have been done without the generosity of thousands of faithful Catholics, who gave to the Catholic Services Appeal in near-record numbers despite personal and communal challenges.

“People’s generosity was overwhelming,” said Jim Thomas, director of development and mission advancement for the Archdiocese of Detroit. “We reduced the CSA goal by 15 percent, but the participation rate was the highest we had in 14 years.”

A Monroe Catholic Schools student plays the flute in music class. Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of Detroit provided in-person education throughout much of the pandemic. (Photos by Paul Duda | Detroit Catholic)

As a result, parishes were able to raise approximately $10 million over and above the archdiocesan-wide target of $15.277 million, which helped them shore up finances and continue to provide vital services to their parishioners during a time of economic uncertainty, Thomas said.

“A lot of parishes were able to use the extra to fuel their own missions, which allowed pastors to stop worrying about finances and focus on their flock,” Thomas said. “Any amount raised above the (parish) CSA target, a parish gets to keep.”

Funds raised by the Catholic Services Appeal support more than 100 vital ministries, programs and Catholic-run services for the wider community in southeast Michigan. From tuition assistance for seminarians to ministry grants for nonprofits that help the homeless and hungry, the work of the Church in Metro Detroit wouldn’t be possible without parishioners’ generosity, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said.

“With your sacrificial commitment, you help us to fuel the mission in each parish in our archdiocese and serve thousands of individuals and families throughout southeast Michigan,” the archbishop said. “Every gift makes a difference in our mission.”

An usher hands out palm branches during Palm Sunday Mass at Holy Trinity Parish in Port Huron. Livestreamed liturgies, ministries and devotions helped parishes minister to their parishioners during the pandemic’s worst days. 

This year’s CSA — the 40th annual — launches May 15-16 with a target of $17.467 million — an amount that’s been virtually unchanged since 2009, with last year as an exception. This year’s theme is “Fuel the Mission.”

In a video message to be played in parishes this weekend, Archbishop Vigneron thanked the faithful for their prayers and faithfulness, reflecting upon St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, in which the apostle urges his hearers to “do from the heart” (Col. 3:23). 

“These words are particularly meaningful since he wrote them from prison, facing persecution and hardship,” the archbishop said. “Like St. Paul and the Colossians, we, too, face our own hardships today. But we can also find great wisdom in his words to act from the heart. 

“As an archdiocesan community, we know in faith that even with today’s challenges, our mission gives us great hope,” the archbishop continued. “In recent years, we have seen our parishes and archdiocese embrace our mission identity in new ways. We have seen the Holy Spirit abundantly at work through our shared work of unleashing the Gospel.”

The Catholic Services Appeal supports the formation and education of seminarians at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, including tuition assistance grants, building maintenance and programming. 

In addition to corporal and spiritual works of mercy, the CSA supports seminarians and lay students studying for ministry at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, as well as new converts to the faith through RCIA programs.

The annual appeal also funds outreach to college students and young adults, support for married and engaged couples — such as natural family planning classes and couple-to-couple mentoring — and cultural ministries for Black, Hispanic and Native American Catholics.

Communications efforts, including Detroit Catholic, Unleash the Gospel magazine, livestream Masses and podcasts such as “Open Door Policy” and “Detroit Stories” also benefit from CSA funding. 

A significant portion of the appeal provides grants for mission-driven organizations, including Catholic schools, parishes, pro-life organizations and social service ministries such as Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan.

The appeal also provides pastoral and financial support for priests, deacons and religious, including retired priests through the Priests Pension Fund, and supports ministries to the disabled, including deaf Catholics.

Students from St. Hugo of the Hills School in Bloomfield Hills pose for a picture inside the Ladies of Charity clothes closet warehouse in Bloomfield Hills. The CSA supports grants to mission-driven organizations throughout southeast Michigan.

But while the CSA supports many great programs and services, it also fuels parish-led evangelization by providing a mechanism for parishes to shore up finances, fund specific projects or start new outreaches, Thomas said.

“Post-pandemic, I saw pastors and parishes doing amazingly creative evangelization efforts — personal calls, Facebook posts, tweets, mailing bulletins to everybody, grocery deliveries — all kinds of cool stuff,” Thomas said. “We had Stations of the Cross outside, livestream Masses and rosaries. Parishioners’ generosity fueled those efforts through their support of the CSA. That’s what the CSA does: it fuels the mission.”

Thomas said no gift is ever taken for granted, especially after a year like 2020 when nothing was certain.

“We’re grateful for every gift that’s given by every parishioner, and our goal is to be careful stewards of how we use it,” Thomas said. “We want people to know what their CSA gifts are making possible: sharing Christ in southeast Michigan.”

Support the Catholic Services Appeal

The Catholic Services Appeal is essential to the mission of the Archdiocese of Detroit. It funds and supports more than 100 ministries that serve our local Church in southeast Michigan, including Detroit Catholic.

Visit to support the mission by making a gift today. We are grateful for your generous support and for your prayers.