By Greg Mellen     3/18/2020

There’s a saying about thinking globally and acting locally. At the Diocese of Orange you can do both when it comes to supporting the Pastoral Services Appeal, the “PSA”. 

Contributing to the annual $11 million fundraising effort allows parishioners the opportunity to benefit the Diocese at large and the local Churches, which receive money back from the appeal. 

“What makes it unique is there is really an opportunity to have an impact on a micro and a macro level,” said Ian Rangel, fund development manager for the Diocese. “Not only are we providing an opportunity to support the missions and ministries at the parish level, we’re also giving our parishioners the opportunity for greater membership in the diocesan Church through the spirituality of stewardship.” 

Think of it as a kind of “omnigiving.” 

Parishioners may know the individual needs of their local Church. However, they are probably less likely to know the top priorities of the Diocesan Bishop, or what programs serve the neediest in the Diocese and/or have an impact on all Catholics in our community. 

In addition to helping individual parishes, donors help the larger community in an array of ways, ranging from tuition assistance for families in need seeking the benefit of a Catholic education, to outreach and services by groups such as Catholic Charities.  

In order to take advantage of organizational efficiencies and to align the PSA with the strategic priorities of the Bishop, the Diocese made the decision to administer the PSA through the Bishop’s administrative offices beginning in 2020. 

According to Rangel, “The primary goal is to benefit our parishes through a reduction in the costs of administering the appeal.” Administrative costs for the 2020 PSA were set at 4 percent, approximately less than half the cost from previous years.”  

The goal of the 2020 PSA is to better align its priorities with the Bishop’s goals, which were outlined in December 2018 in the first-ever Diocesan Strategic Plan. 

The purpose of the strategic plan is to provide the Bishop the framework to establish and prioritize organizational systems, structures and resources in six areas: evangelization and faith formation; governance and leadership; clergy formation; stewardship and finance; Catholic schools; and the Christ Cathedral Campus. 

As Rangel describes it, “The programs and services designated as Bishop Vann’s priorities provide training, formation, education and outreach that reinforces the mission of each individual parish and reaches out to those in the wider community.”  

Elizabeth Jensen, Chief Financial Officer for the Diocese, said leadership worked with pastors on the appeal to “make it more local. And while it still benefits the Diocesan ministries, there will be huge benefits to local parish ministries.”   

About 45 percent of the funds raised are earmarked for Catholic education, seminarian formation, and ongoing education for priests and deacons. 

Another 42 percent goes back to parishes as rebates, which can be utilized by the parish on specific projects, or as needed in their community. 

“Each parish conducts their own PSA campaign and has an assigned fair share goal,” Rangel said. “The PSA provides an opportunity for parishes to earn significant capital funds to support important parish projects after their goal is reached each year.  One hundred percent of all funds received over the parish’s goal are returned to the parish as a surplus, while all appeal marketing, processing and pledge redemption costs are covered for every parish and center by the Bishops Administrative Offices.” 

Rangel said in past years some more affluent parishes have designated their refunds to help parishes in struggling communities, which proved particularly popular, not to mention in the true spirit of Catholic giving. 

Another important aspect of the Pastoral Services Appeal this year is transparency. 

In a video promoting the PSA and the Diocesan Strategic Plan, Father Angelos Sebastian of St. Kilian’s Church said, “When we spend money, the parish knows where we spend the money, they know how we spend the money and why we spend the money. And when they see how we are transparent with them, they believe us, they trust us and they’re very generous.” 

About 10 percent goes to outreach programs for the poor, vulnerable and others on the margins in our community. These include support services to  more than 330,000 families through Catholic Charities and 31,000 served through the detention ministry and restorative justice programs. Each year, funding is also set aside for the deaf community in the Catholic Church. 

Summing up the Pastoral Services Appeal, Rangel said, “I can’t think of any other effort that allows Catholics the opportunity to help the people close to them, those they sit next to in the pews, and those we may have never met but whom we share this larger Catholic community within the Diocese of Orange.”