A member of the Diocesan Pastoral Center staff prays at the onset of a building-wide meeting to get a sneak peek of the 2018 Charity and Development Appeal video and be among the first to fill out a pledge card. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Charity and Development Appeal (CDA)

The Charity and Development 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 Diocese of Phoenix.


In a world wounded by sin where myriads struggle to make it, the love of Christ offers hope. That love pours out to thousands of those in need through the annual Charity and Development Appeal which this year proclaims “Love that Gives Hope” as its theme.

It’s a tall order for a diocese that stretches almost 44,000 square miles, encompasses 117 parishes and missions and celebrates Mass in at least 14 distinct ethnic communities. The prayer, financial sacrifices and people power that fuel the CDA drive the more than 70 area charitable organizations, ministries and diocesan programs which benefit from the appeal.

“We all become the face of Jesus in this tapestry,” Lisa Wentz, director of the CDA, told leaders at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. “When you give to the CDA, you create a more strong and vibrant image of Jesus that we can all be together.”

Last year’s appeal netted more than $9 million in pledges and $9.5 million allocated to faith-based charities; clergy, seminarians and religious; parishes and missions; schools; and education and evangelization. The coming weeks are prime time to discern how individuals and families will support this year’s effort. The 2018 Charity and Development Appeal kicks off at parishes Feb. 10-11.

That’s when parishioners will learn about the CDA from the pew, see the short CDA video highlighting its impact and be able to fill out a pledge card. A guest speaker might briefly share about the CDA’s importance the following weekend alongside additional time to complete a pledge card. The speaker might be someone who has benefited from CDA funds or someone who passionately believes in its mission.

Barry and Adelaida Severson fit the latter profile. Parishioners from St. Anne in Gilbert, the Seversons are serving as co-chairs of the 2018 CDA, helping promote the appeal during parish leadership training this month and supporting parish efforts as needed. Catholics might also see them on diocesan social media channels promoting CDA as “Stewardship in the Family.”

Raising three boys in the Diocese of Phoenix has helped the young Seversons — a college freshman and twin 15-year-olds — learn about helping others in need.

“They’ve learned that every gift to the CDA helps people overcome challenges and build a relationship with Christ,” Adelaida said in a short promo video for the campaign. She told Diocesan Pastoral Center leaders how important it was to model charitable giving at home. It propels the mission of the Church.

The Seversons, married for 26 years, can relate to many of the needs CDA fulfills. Barry, like Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, comes from a rural background. Barry’s church structure housed a rotating set of faiths depending on the type of minister passing through his hometown in South Dakota. He knows the struggles rural churches and missions face as well as the strength of their faith. The CDA spread more than $1 million across 18 churches and missions last year to supplement formation and fiscal needs.

Bishop Olmsted, recalling his rural upbringing, compared the natural “pinch hitting” farmers did for neighboring farmers in case of illness or some debilitating factor to the diocesan Charity and Development Appeal.

“CDA is doing together things that help so many other people. It reaches out to other people who might otherwise feel like they’re lost,” the bishop explained.

Adelaida described CDA as “something that we as Catholics can do as one body to give hope … to have that far-reaching ability. It gives hope to the homeless person or the person who might not be able to find a job … and all of the other ministries … to create priests, to create hope and to evangelize.”

Adelaida, a fair mix of Filipina, Latina and Hawaiian, can relate to the needs ethnic ministries fulfill through CDA support. A master’s and doctorate degree holder from Arizona State University with a son in college, she can also appreciate CDA’s support of college Newman Centers within the Diocese of Phoenix boundaries.

“Barry and Adelaida are good role models because they truly live a stewardship way of life. It’s not something they do to simply cross off a list — it’s in their hearts,” said Wentz. “They give of their time, talent and treasure on a regular basis and across multiple organizations.”

They are also founding members of the Diocesan Stewardship Council, which was established in 2010.

With development efforts like CDA, Fr. Greg Schlarb, vicar of stewardship for the Diocese of Phoenix, offered a quick thought. “It’s not the amount that’s given. It’s that you did.”