More parishes reaching ADA  goal


By Anne Marie Amacher

The Catholic Messenger

Additional support from the Diocese of Davenport in promotion of the Annual Diocesan Appeal has resulted in more parishes reaching goal and a reduction in parishes falling short. (See chart on Page 3 for details.)

Anne Marie Amacher
Priests and deacons in the Diocese of Davenport process into Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport for the Chrism Mass March 19.

As of last week, just 10 parishes were below goal for a total amount of $23,700. Last year at this time 18 parishes were below goal for a total of $79,500, said diocesan Development Director Andy Gaertner.


“We reduced (the shortfall) by 71 percent,” he said. “And this year’s ADA goal was $20,000 higher, which was a modest increase.” Building projects or other factors impact some parishes’ efforts to reach goal.

To assist parishes this year, the ADA appeal broadened its scope. A letter from the bishop with a response card was mailed to every household for which an address was available; previously, letters were sent to households that contributed to the ADA.

Fliers were available and parishes were encouraged to conduct an in-pew solicitation. Envelopes and instructions were provided. Ushers distributed envelopes during Mass and the pastor or designated parishioner explained the process and asked for the envelopes to be returned at that time with a listed pledge amount. “That made a big difference,” he said. “Most dioceses struggle to retain and gain new people. There are people who die, move, switch jobs, lose jobs and just don’t renew their gift from the previous year. We gained more new people this year.”

Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton reached its ADA goal for the first time. Parish Business Manager Dave Schnier said that in the past the parish has run $7,000 to $15,000 short of goal. “Last year we were closer to goal but still had to take about $5,600 from savings to pay our shortfall.”

Two things made a difference this year, he said. “First, historically we conduct our Parish Annual Stewardship Renewal of time, talent and treasure in September, which of course is the same month as the ADA.  We tried different ways to combine both appeals, which was a challenge. But this past year we delayed our Stewardship Renewal until October, to give parishioners more separation time between the two campaigns.

“The second thing was Andy Gaertner’s leadership. He was very helpful to us and really wanted to see all parishes reach goal. I believe the diocese did more this year to follow up with those who hadn’t responded to the ADA, but in a very kind and professional way.”

The chancery provides the bulk of administrative work for ADA by mailing materials, tracking pledges, payments and following up with parishioners, Schnier noted. Previous ADA campaigns have been a challenge because Prince of Peace has also had a number of capital campaigns since the parish merged in 1990.

So far, about 85 percent of Prince of Peace pledges have been paid. “One thing I’ve noticed about our parishioners is that when they make a pledge, they are committed to fulfilling it.  We always seem to be 98 percent or more of pledges paid in full (for various campaigns), which is just outstanding!”

Father Chuck Adam, pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Coral­ville, under­took his first ADA collection this year. Pre­vi­ously, he worked at St. Ambrose Uni­versity which is not included in the appeal. “Andy gave me good advice and it worked well,” Fr. Adam said. Bishop Thomas Zink­ula’s presence at the parish not long before the appeal kicked off made a good impression on parishioners, Fr. Adam said.

The letter from the bishop and in-pew solicitation helped the parish exceed its goal. St. Thomas More has had sporadic success with ADA in the past. “Last year we exceeded our goal, but the year before we had to dip into our budget.”

Fr. Adam said in his preaching he emphasized that the parish and parishioners “are very much a part of the diocese and its ministries. I let them know how we are supported through ministries offered by the diocese. It’s not just money going to Davenport. It’s money that comes back to us through our ministries.”

Father Joseph Sia, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Colum­bus Junction, said that the parish has met its ADA goal for the first time in the 10 years he has been there. “I think promoting it every year, little by little, helped us in­crease,” he said.

A different approach this year also worked out well. The main kickoff, with help from the diocese, was in Sep­tember. After­wards, on the first Sunday of every month, a second collection has been held for ADA. Some drop envelopes into the collection basket and others contribute cash or checks.

This has been especially helpful with the Hispanic community. “It is not in their culture to do long-term pledges.” He also noted that many Hispanics do not officially register at the parish, which creates a challenge for obtaining reliable addresses to provide ADA information. “We just offer everyone another avenue.”

Each month Fr. Sia reminds parishioners about the need to support the chancery and its mission, which in turn helps parishes. “The ADA is a good way to show our unity as a diocese.”


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