EAST STROUDSBURG – April 8, 2023, is a day that Ellen Gomez of Bushkill will never forget.

With her family and friends looking on, the 57-year-old was baptized at the Church of Saint John in East Stroudsburg during the Easter Vigil Mass.

“I just feel good. I just feel like a new person,” Gomez told The Catholic Light.

Gomez grew up in the Bronx with her parents and five siblings before moving to the Poconos in 1995. While she attended church at a young age, Gomez said she never received the Sacrament of Baptism and always felt like something was missing in her life.

“I felt like I needed that blessing. I needed something. I never felt fully included,” she said.

After calling the Church of Saint John last year, staff members, including the parish deacon, made special accommodations to make sure Gomez could successfully complete RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes.

Because of generous gifts to the Diocesan Annual Appeal each year, the Diocesan Office for Parish Life is able to provide support and resources for parishes that have people participating in the RCIA Program.

As the 2023 Diocesan Annual Appeal launches in parishes this month, Ellen Gomez is just one of thousands of people who have benefitted from the generosity of parishioners in the past.

The Diocesan Annual Appeal funds the good works and ministries of our local Church that are outside the scope of any one individual parish.

By donating to the Diocesan Annual Appeal, you are helping to pay for the education and formation of seminarians and assisting with the living expenses of retired priests who have faithfully served the Diocese for decades. Your gifts also support the life-changing spiritual encounters organized by the Office for Parish Life.

When you give generously to the Diocesan Annual Appeal, you enable the Church to strengthen the bonds of unity between us and respond to the needs of our community not only in the Name of Jesus, but as members of His Body.

Because no one can fulfill Christ’s mission alone, together, we can form children in faith, bring the mercy of God to those who suffer the lack of basic needs through the work of Catholic Social Services and bring the presence of Jesus and the power of God’s transforming grace to all through Catholic communication efforts.

The Diocesan Annual Appeal is the Diocese of Scranton’s single most important fundraising initiative and we need the support of all parishioners to be successful. Poverty, hunger and homelessness remain serious challenges in our community. Money raised from the Appeal helps our brothers and sisters in need, in addition to funding vocation efforts, Catholic education and parish life programs.

This year, a renewed focus is being placed on the percentage of parishioners from each parish who donate to the Appeal.

Gifts of any amount are welcome and will help us collectively reach our goal of $4.5 million.

The Appeal’s theme, “Our Call to Serve” aligns with the spirit of creating communities rooted in the life of Jesus Christ. Each of us is called to become the loving, compassionate Christ that fed the hungry.

Diocesan ministries supported by gifts to the Diocesan Annual Appeal include Catholic Social Services; parish social justice and faith formation programs; Catholic education in our 19 Catholic schools; care for our current and retired priests and support for seminarians preparing for the priesthood, parish life and pastoral planning efforts; and communication programs such as The Catholic Light and Catholic Television.

We invite all parishioners to visit our new website for Appeal at annualappeal.org. The new website helps to highlight the number of individuals and families served in a new way. You can watch several videos of what your gifts help support and you can make a secure donation online.

This year, parishes around the Diocese will launch the Diocesan Annual Appeal on the weekend of Sept. 23-24 by asking parishioners to commit to a pledge to this year’s campaign. Every dollar donated to the Appeal will support the intended ministries and cannot be used for any other purpose.

In advance of celebration weekend for the Diocesan Annual Appeal, we are asking all people to pray and discern how they can best support this year’s effort and to become familiar with the impact it has in all of the parishes across our diocese.

Anyone interested in making a gift to the Diocesan Annual Appeal can visit annualappeal.org to give online or call the Diocesan Development Office at (570) 207-2250.