Bishop Nelson J. Perez announced the kickoff of the 2019 Catholic Charities Annual Appeal on Feb. 8 from the heart of one of Catholic Charities' programs, the Hispanic Senior Center. The center is located at St. Augustine Towers on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland.
“Saludos a mis compañeros hispanos,” bishop said, as he warmly greeted and expressed his appreciation to all those gathered for the launch of the appeal.
The day Bishop Perez arrived in Cleveland in July 2017, one of his first visits was to the Hispanic Senior Center. He recalled the experience and how proud he is of the work being done through the ministries and services of Catholic Charities.
The Catholic Charities Annual Appeal supports more than 400,000 individuals who utilize services and programs the organization provides across the eight-county diocese. This year's appeal goal is $13.5 million, a $1 million increase over last year's appeal. The additional funds are needed because of an increased demand for services. "Walk in Faith, Give in Joy" is the 2019 appeal theme.
“Your generosity, your gift, touches thousands of lives,” the bishop said. “A letter from St. John reminds us that God loved us first. The experience of God’s love is so powerful in our Catholic community that we walk in faith and give in joy, making the Gospel so palpable.”
Before Bishop Perez addressing the crowd, Patrick Gareau, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland, recapped the success of the 2018 Annual Appeal. With the $14.4 million raised last year, he said Catholic Charities was able to expand services for residential drug addiction treatment centers. By partnering with parishes in the Akron area, the organization now can respond to the growing opioid crisis in that area of the diocese. Also, assistance is available now throughout the entire diocese.
Gareau introduced Evelyn Santos-Rodriguez, director of the Hispanic Senior Center. With the support of Catholic Charities, the center provides one full meal daily to the aging Hispanic population on Cleveland’s West Side. In addition, partnerships with Cleveland Emergency Medical Services and the Ursuline College nursing program provide twice-a-year physical exams.
In closing, the bishop thanked pastors and parishioners throughout Northeast Ohio and asked them to respond to the need again this weekend.