In pandemic-challenged year, delayed Catholic Services Appeal asks Catholics to ‘rise’

Annual appeal funds more than 170 vital ministries, supporting the work of schools, parishes and outreach efforts across southeast Michigan

Editor’s note: The Catholic Services Appeal is essential to the mission of the Archdiocese of Detroit. It funds and supports more than 170 ministries that serve the 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. 

DETROIT — Normally, the archdiocesan Catholic Services Appeal takes place in late spring.

Obviously, 2020 was not a normal year.

Since the pandemic began in mid-March, Catholic parishes, schools and archdiocesan ministries have continued to serve in vitally important ways, operating food pantries, educating students remotely and livestreaming Masses and faith formation opportunities — even as weekend collections in some cases took a significant hit.

As a result of the economic challenges related to the COVID-19 crisis, this year’s Catholic Services Appeal — the primary support mechanism for more than 170 ministries, programs and services benefiting the faithful in southeast Michigan — was delayed until the fall.

“This year has been a year like no other — a time of great challenge but also a time of great grace,” Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron wrote in a letter to the faithful ahead of the annual CSA weekend, which is Sept. 11-12 this year. “Our lives and the lives of our parish communities have been affected in ways we did not anticipate or imagine.”

From Catholic schools, which seamlessly transitioned to distance-learning mid-semester and are welcoming students back to the classroom this fall, to food banks that provided for those who lost jobs during the pandemic, the local Catholic Church has responded to the crisis in myriad ways, Archbishop Vigneron said.

“Our city and our region have experienced their share of setbacks and challenges, but the people of southeast Michigan are resilient,” the archbishop said. “When we are knocked down, we know how to get up, how to rebuild, and how to rise again. We have done so in the past. We will do so again.”

This year’s CSA theme, “Rise and Be Not Afraid,” reflects the spirit of Fr. Gabriel Richard, who coined the city’s motto after the Great Fire of 1805: “We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.” It’s also taken from the words Jesus spoke to the apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:7), the archbishop said.

“Jesus, who knows us and loves us, speaks these words of comfort and of action,” the archbishop said. “He tells us not to be afraid because he is with us at all times. He also tells us to rise.”

Reflecting the hardships many families face, the goal of the 39th annual archdiocesan appeal has been reduced by about 15 percent to $15.2 million.

Volunteers pack bags of groceries at St. Peter Parish’s outdoor food pantry this spring in Mount Clemens. Catholic parishes were hit hard by the economic shutdown, but continued to provide for the needs of the community despite reduced budgets and volunteer support. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Recognizing that some families might not be able to support the Church’s work as they have in the past, Archbishop Vigneron asked those who are able to consider increasing their gift on behalf of those who cannot afford it.

“It is through your kindness and generosity that we are able to meet the needs of individuals and families in our communities, parishes, and schools,” the archbishop said. “Hundreds of thousands of lives are impacted every year by the programs and ministries sponsored by the Catholic Services Appeal. We must continue to bring Christ to those lives.”

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.

Newly ordained Fr. David Pellican gives an “elbow bump” after his ordination to the priesthood in June. The Catholic Services Appeal helps local seminarians offset the cost of formation by supporting their coursework, meals and education through Sacred Heart Major Seminary. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Communications efforts, including Detroit Catholic, Unleash the Gospel magazine, livestream Masses and podcasts such as “Open Door Policy” 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. No CSA funding has ever been used to settle claims or lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Detroit.

While the Catholic Services Appeal funds hundreds of archdiocesan-wide ministries, parishes that collect in excess of 100 percent of their CSA goal keep all of the extra funding for parish-based ministries and programs.

“Our mission of sharing Christ’s saving Word must continue,” Archbishop Vigneron wrote. “In these difficult days we are called to bring to our families, neighborhoods, and workplaces the kind of hope that does not disappoint. We have been sent by Christ to be his light in the world. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, ‘What the world needs is God’s love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him.’”

Support the Catholic Services Appeal

The Catholic Services Appeal is essential to the mission of the Archdiocese of Detroit. It funds and supports over 170 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.