By SHEILA OJENDYK
Bless us, O Lord” is the theme of this year’s 1999 Diocesan Development Fund, which supports social outreach programs, Catholic schools, seminarians, evangelization and prayer and worship ministries.
During December and January, DDF kick-offs and workshops were held in each deanery throughout the diocese.
The annual appeal had its official kickoff in the Piedmont Deanery in Greenville on Jan. 21.
Many parish representatives and several priests met for a workshop at St. Mary led by Sandy Ferencz, diocesan director for stewardship and development, and Greg Bowden, annual appeal assistant.
Bowden reported that the 1998 DDF drive was the most successful ever with 16,445 families pledging $1.7 million. Sixty-five parishes met or exceeded their goals.
Bowden explained that federal law and diocesan regulations are the same regarding crediting of donations by tax year. Any donation received in hand or postmarked in 1999 is credited for the 1999 tax year, regardless of when a check is dated.
The stewardship and development staff have prepared five brochures for the DDF campaign. Previous DDF donors in each of the four deaneries will be receiving a brochure specific to their deanery emphasizing how the DDF impacts their own region. The fifth brochure highlights DDF donations to programs and ministries all over South Carolina and will be targeted to potential new donors.
Each deanery also hosted a donor recognition Mass, celebrated by Bishop David B. Thompson. The last such liturgy will be held on Feb. 7 at St. Michael Church in Garden City for the Pee Dee Deanery.
At the Greenville gathering, Ferencz spoke on the concept of stewardship and how it relates to the DDF. She described the four concepts of stewardship as first receiving God’s gifts of life, talents, treasures and forgiveness graciously; second, nurturing and caring for these gifts; third, sharing them; and fourth, returning them by putting God first, using talents to the fullest and leaving the world a better place. She emphasized that “… stewardship is not an option but is rather part and parcel of being a disciple of Christ … Stewardship is a change in the priorities of our lives, which includes how we spend our time, talents and treasures.”
This year’s DDF goal is $1.8 million. Many parishes have higher goals than last year, but there is a cap on increases. Each parish that exceeds its goal qualifies for an endowment of 50 cents on the dollar, which is designated for its future long-term support. DDF Sunday is Feb. 14.