At his installation Mass in May 2019, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory spoke to the future of the Archdiocese of Washington in his homily – stating that the archdiocese faces “a defining moment,” but our “hearts are filled with hope and eagerness.”

“Hearts filled with Hope” is the theme of the 2020 Annual Appeal, the main fundraising effort for outreach programs and ministries in the Archdiocese of Washington.

“As Catholics, we are a people of hope,” David Cook, the director of the Annual Appeal of the Archdiocese of Washington, said. “That is something we bring to the world – hope. The hope we have is grounded, real, filled with determination and resolve. That is the hope we want to spread… with this year’s appeal.”

The Annual Appeal, which began in 1969, financially provides for a wide variety of the archdiocese’s educational and charitable programs and ministries that serve Washington, D.C., and the five surrounding Maryland counties.

“I appreciate that ministries and programs of the appeal, in essence, are an extension of the parish,” Cook said.

Since his installation, Archbishop Gregory has visited nearly half of the 139 parishes in the archdiocese – attending special events and celebrating Mass. In his Annual Appeal letter, the archbishop shared his appreciation for the archdiocese and its people.

“As I have been traveling throughout our archdiocese since becoming your archbishop last spring, I am deeply touched by our faith communities in every parish and school,” Archbishop Gregory wrote. “Your untiring dedication and works of light and compassion for our sisters and brothers is such a heartwarming response to our Christian call.”

As vocations continue to thrive in the archdiocese, nearly $6 million raised during the 2019 annual appeal supported vocations and clergy, which includes the Saint John Paul II Seminary, where 50 young men currently live and study, as well as the Office of Consecrated Life, the Office of the Permanent Diaconate, and the Office of Vocations.

“Seminarian formation is not anything one parish can take on its own, but when 139 parishes come together, they can,” Cook said. “These seminarians are going into the parishes (later as priests) – think of how many Masses they will go on to say, Confessions they will hear, weddings and Baptisms they will do.”

Anthony Neves, a member of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland, has been a longtime supporter of the Annual Appeal, and even began to volunteer for the appeal in the summer of 1995 after he retired.

“I came to identify with the appeal because through it, people and members of the Archdiocese of Washington could contribute very efficiently to (more than 60) programs, both directly and indirectly,” Neves said.

He added that he enjoys sharing with others about the extent of the need within the archdiocese.

“Sometimes people don’t see the need. We try to stress to people whom we talk to on the phone about the Catholic concept of the need to give – and the need is certainly out there,” Neves said.

Archbishop Gregory also elaborated on the need within the archdiocese for such an appeal that supports not just the clergy and vocations, but Catholic schools and catechesis; family, pro–life and special ministries; campus ministries and chaplains; communications and parish ministries; and Catholic Charities.

“As we begin this new calendar year, the needs in our communities are greater than ever before,” Archbishop Gregory wrote. “...With your participation, we are able to tangibly share hope throughout our local Church here in the Archdiocese of Washington.”

Cook added that the archdiocese continues to speak up in the public about pro–life issues and continues to foster a place of diverse ministries. An insert in this week’s Catholic Standard describes the impact that the Annual Appeal has on people’s lives throughout the Washington area.

“We are a universal Church with many faces... To make sure these communities and people know that this is one, unified Church is an important part of the appeal,” he said.

In 2019, the Annual Appeal initially had a decrease in pledged donations, but support increased following the arrival of Archbishop Gregory in May.

“‘Hearts filled with Hope’ is so appropriate,” Joe Gillmer, executive director of development, said. “We have a lot of hope that we are back on track to support the ministries of the Church.”

Commitment weekend for the 2020 “Hearts filled with Hope” Annual Appeal will be Feb. 15 and 16.

“No one can give everything, but all can give something,” Cook said. “When our families consider, we hope they have in mind these ministries, people... This is a local appeal. This is the Church of Washington. Every square inch of this archdiocese is benefited by these contributions.”