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Annual Catholic Appeal Over A Third Of The Way To Goal


The Bishop of the Springfield Diocese was in rural Franklin County today to promote an annual charitable appeal to western Massachusetts Catholics.   He announced the fundraising is already off to a good start.  

Bishop Mitchell Rozanski visited the family center of Montague Catholic Social Ministries in Turners Falls during a children’s playtime Monday morning.  It is one of more than 40 community-based services and agencies that are financially supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal.

Rozanski said this year’s appeal has already raised $1.2 million toward the $3 million goal.

" Today, I want to thank those who have given or pledged for helping us out of the gate, and I want to ask those who have het to make their give to prayerfully consider doing so," said Rozanski.

This is the first diocesan-wide fund raising campaign since Rozanski became bishop last August.

" A bishops first year or so are filled with new discoveries and today is a most reassuring one," said Rozanski.

The agency Rozanski visited Monday was started by Rev. Stanley Aksamit in 1994 in response to growing demands area churches were receiving for help.  The region’s largest employer, a paper mill, had just shutdown. Turners Falls had reported the highest number of cases of domestic violence per capita in the state. 

The organization’s programs today still focus on helping families and children.

"We meet regularly with people from the neighborhood, so we are always making sure the needs we are responding to are current, " said Aksamit.

   Aksamit said the center helps a lot of immigrants and migrant farm workers.

The agency offers adult English classes four nights per week along with an early literacy program for the children of Spanish-speaking parents.

      The organization’s director, Susan Mareneck, said it functions with a part-time staff of six people and an annual budget of $250,000

Another Appeal-funded agency highlighted Monday by Rozanski is Homework House in Holyoke.  It provides after school tutoring in reading and math for children who come from neighborhoods that are the poorest in the state.

Homework House Executive Director Virginia Dillon said more than 200 volunteers are currently tutoring about 90 children.

"One of the things we try to do is create an environment where the kids are valued and given positive reinforcement," said Dillon.

Dillon said the program does not accept any public funding, so it does not have to charge the children’s families for the tutoring.

The Annual Catholic Appeal runs through the end of May.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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