ABCD: Hope for the poor
As 2014 campaign gets underway, recipients list the ways ABCD funds helped them
Ana Rodriguez-Soto – Florida Catholic
MIAMI | Father Manny Alvarez saw divine providence in the timing: The letter from Archbishop Thomas Wenski announcing that the archdiocese had paid off his parish’s $3.3 million debt had been written while his parishioners engaged in a 40-hour eucharistic devotion to mark the 40th anniversary of their church’s founding.
“I definitely saw the Good Lord’s providential hand at work in your generous gesture and the fervent prayer of the good people of Divine Providence,” wrote Father Alvarez, administrator of the Sweetwater parish, in a letter thanking the archbishop for his generosity.
Father Alvarez is featured in this year’s ABCD campaign video and quoted in the brochure: “From my time as a seminarian where the contributions of the good people of God funded my priestly formation, to my time as pastor now, I have spent 20 years as a first-hand witness to the impact ABCD makes in people’s lives.”
Other witnesses featured in the video: Annette Buscemi, principal of St. Helen School in Fort Lauderdale, most of whose 185 students in grades Pre-K through eight attend on scholarship — scholarships made possible by the generosity of donors to the ABCD, the Archbishop’s Charities and Development appeal. Buscemi’s second grade students provided the chorus of welcome to around 200 priests and laity who attended the annual ABCD kickoff luncheon for Broward County, while the choir of St. Gregory School in Plantation, composed of fourth through eighth graders, provided the musical entertainment at the Jan. 10 luncheon. A similar luncheon was set for Jan. 21 in Miami-Dade County and three evening Masses, followed by receptions, were scheduled for Jan. 16, 17 and 18 in the Florida Keys. The purpose: “solely to recognize and to thank you,” Katie Blanco-Crocquet told those in attendance at the Broward luncheon. She is the archdiocese’s chief development officer and president of its Development Corporation.
“We’re very humbled and grateful for your generosity,” she told the donors.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski thanked them for making “extraordinary accomplishments” possible, then listed the ways in which ABCD money helps the archdiocese serve its people, especially the poor.
The funds collected each year by the ABCD help support the charitable, educational, vocational and evangelization ministries of the archdiocese.
“You are helping to train the largest group of seminarians the archdiocese has enjoyed in many years,” the archbishop said, noting that 60 men are currently studying for the archdiocesan priesthood in either the minor seminary of St. John Vianney in Miami or the major seminary of St. Vincent de Paul in Boynton Beach.
Around 31 percent of the funds collected each year by ABCD are spent on the formation of seminarians, priests and deacons.
About 27 percent of the funds have gone to provide debt relief to parishes such as Our Lady of Divine Providence. In 2013, the archdiocese used funds from the ABCD and its investments to pay off nearly $16 million worth of debt for 10 archdiocesan parishes and one high school.
About 15 percent of ABCD funds support parish ministries such as:
- evangelization and outreach to migrants and farm workers in South Dade;
- ministry to seafarers — those who work on cruise and merchant ships — at both the Port of Miami and Port Everglades;
- the respect life ministry to women in crisis pregnancies;
- and the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea’s Outreach Mission on Stock Island, Key West, which in a single month distributed 91,000 pounds of food to “mostly working families,” according to Father John Baker, the church’s pastor.
Another 11 percent of ABCD funds provide financial aid to parishes and schools, such as St. Helen. “These students can’t attend without ABCD donations,” Buscemi said. “Without the generosity of others, we wouldn’t have this school.”
She described ABCD as “the gift of possibility” for her students, most of whom live in single parent homes with moms or dads who work two jobs to make ends meet.
“We’re trying to make a difference in our children’s lives through Catholic education. This school is important to this community. It’s all we have,” Buscemi told the Broward donors.
“We cannot allow the poor to be robbed of hope,” Archbishop Wenski said, quoting Pope Francis. “Through your contribution to ABCD, you give hope to those who are most in need… Let us refuse to be robbed of hope.”