FALL RIVER — The 80th Annual Catholic Appeal of the Diocese of Fall River officially kicks off on Saturday, May 1 and runs through June 30. Since it first launched in 1942, the annual Appeal has delivered critical resources to uphold the vitally important agencies and ministries of the diocese. The 80th Annual Catholic Appeal — “Time to Gather, Time to Heal, Time to Love” — takes place as we work to emerge from the numerous challenges presented by the Coronavirus, and a year when demand for many diocesan agencies and programs reached all-time highs.

Annual gifts and pledges to the Catholic Appeal support all the agencies, programs, and ministries of the diocese, providing food and shelter, educating children and adults, and meeting the physical, emotional, and Spiritual needs of tens of thousands of individuals and families. The diocese spans from Mansfield, Easton and the Attleboros, through the Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford areas, and extends all the way to Cape Cod and the Islands.

In a message to the faithful of the Diocese of Fall River, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. stated, “This year’s theme, ‘Time to Gather, Time to Heal, Time to Love’ speaks to the many ways our world is yearning for the healing power of Christ’s love. It is also a message of hope that inspires us to begin again. It is indeed time to gather together as a people joined in faith, heal from pain and hardship, and love others as our Savior loves us.

“Sacred Scripture reminds us that love is the most important way we share our Savior’s light with the world: ‘Let love make you serve one another’ (Gal 5:13). In Christianity, charity is the highest form of love between God and our brothers and sisters; the two words, charity and love, are synonymous. When we show charity to others, we bring this love to life in so many wonderful ways and we fulfill our obligation to live in the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who laid down His life for us.”

The Catholic Appeal supports the work of Catholic Social Services (CSS), which serves and ministers to nearly 50,000 individuals each year. CSS offers assistance with basic and emergency needs and provides housing to women, men, children, and families who have been displaced due to numerous social and economic situations.

CSS also provides much-needed sustenance to those suffering from food insecurity in our diocese. At the height of the pandemic, the number of individuals and families who turned to the Solanus Casey Food Pantry in New Bedford, a program of Catholic Social Services, increased by more than 150 percent. Last year, the food pantry began distributing 12,000 pounds of food each week. In 2020, they served nearly 20,000 households representing more than 52,000 individuals and more elderly than ever before.

The Catholic Appeal also funds the work of our hospital chaplains, the weekly Television Mass, support for our retired priests and seminarians, campus ministry at area colleges, the Diocesan Office of Faith Formation, the Diocesan Office of Pro-Life, prison ministry, and much more.

As an added incentive this year, .50 of every dollar raised over a parish’s fundraising goal will be returned to the parish for its use. Not only will this provide additional funds for those most in need, it is also an opportunity to assist our parishes at this critical time.

Additional information on this year’s Catholic Appeal is available on its website: www. catholicfoundationsema.org/catholic-appeal-2021, including a video message from Bishop da Cunha and a summary of how the funds raised through the 2020 Catholic Appeal were distributed across the various ministries and programs it supports.

Contributions to the Catholic Appeal may be made either through a one-time donation or through monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual pledges. Donations may be mailed to the Catholic Appeal Office, 450 Highland Avenue, Fall River, Mass., 02720; made online at www. givefrdiocese.org/2021, or dropped off at any parish in the diocese. Please contact the Catholic Appeal office at 508-675- 1311 with any questions.