Because of the generosity of donors, the 2012 Charity and Development Appeal exceeded the overall financial goal for the first time in five years.

The annual Charity and Development Appeal surpassed its $8 million goal this year.

Catholics helped the CDA push past its $8 million goal last month. The annual appeal supports more than 70 educational, charitable and spiritual organizations which counsel, feed, clothe, house, educate and comfort those in need throughout the  four counties in the Phoenix Diocese. Nearly half of the diocese’s 92 parishes and 23 missions met or exceeded their financial goal.

“We appreciate the partnership of pastors in all aspects of the CDA, from setting parish goals to the CDA message,” said Fr. Greg Schlarb, vicar of stewardship and pastor of St. Paul Parish.

The laity also stood out with their “never-ending work,” weekend after weekend. Ushers, money counters, CDA coordinators and other volunteers all played pivotal roles in promoting the annual appeal and processing financial and prayerful pledges.

“We really tried to focus on impact, so people knew where their donations are going,” said Missie D’Aunoy, director of the Office of Stewardship, which oversees the Charity and Development Appeal

Overall participation ended up at 31.7 percent, with a total amount raised of over $8.1 million.

The average gift was $185.35.

Cynthia Scheller served as co-chair of this year’s CDA with her husband, Matthew. She grew up at Sacred Heart Parish in Prescott and is now at St. Thomas Aquinas in Avondale.

Their four children have supported the CDA with part of their birthday money for the last five years. Supporting the Church through the CDA doesn’t always have to involve money though, she said. Praying for those involved and those affected or sharing a talent helps too.

“It’s not about when you have the time. It’s not about when you have the money. It’s every day you do something,” Scheller said.

“If everyone were to do a small amount, then so much could be done locally and on a diocesan level,” she said.

Local Catholics already accomplished a lot with recent CDA funds and other means of support. It was “Because of You,” as the CDA theme touted, that 290 homeless clients at St. Joseph the Worker gained meaningful employment in the last fiscal year. It was also “because of you” that 13,000 students received a Catholic education — as did 25 seminarians.

Maggie’s Place, a community of homes that supports pregnant women and their infants who would otherwise be homeless, assisted its 500th mother since opening its doors in 2001.

“That’s really how we measure the distinct impact that the Charity and Development Appeal has,” Fr. Schlarb said during a wrap-up celebration at the Diocesan Pastoral Center June 20. “So many wonderful things can happen for our diocese when we have the financial support — when the rubber hits the road.”

Planning is already underway for the 2013 Charity and Development Appeal.