Have you wondered why your special collection envelopes look a bit different this year?  

It's because the Archdiocese has decided to roll all is special collections into one integrated charitable appeal, starting in Lent 2014. In a letter dated December 12, 2013, Archbishop Richard Smith notes that the people of the Archdiocese of Edmonton have always been generous in their support of the special collections, which address a variety of needs here at home, in Canada, and abroad. 

"Our practice has been to space these special collections throughout the year," writes Archbishop Smith. "Now, after extensive consultation, I am asking that we continue this support through one simplified and coordinated annual appeal. Although the appeal will be made only once annually, parishioners will still be able to fulfill their pledge over time if they so wish.

"This new approach will begin in Lent of 2014. Named Together We Serve, this appeal will reflect our shared faith in coordinated action – serving the world God so loves."

Collections ranging from Development and Peace's Share Lent appeal to the requests for funds for St. Joseph Seminary, Newman Theological College and St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta will all be part of the annual appeal known as Together We Serve.

Other collections held in parishes that will become part of Together We Serve are Evangelization of Nations, Needs of the Canadian Church, Needs of the Church in the Holy Land, Papal Charities and the St. Joseph's Priests' Foundation of Edmonton.

The Catholic Social Services' Sign of Hope campaign will run a separate parish campaign in the fall of 2014, but will become part of Together We Serve in 2015.

Archbishop Smith said one reason for the joint appeal is to overcome "donor fatigue" which can result from "multiple asks" for different organizations.

Unlike similar appeals in other dioceses, where some of the money collected goes to diocesan operations, the funds raised through Together We Serve will go to the participating charities. The appeal will also include a provision for parishes to direct some of funds collected to their own charitable initiatives or projects.

For more information on the annual appeal, and to read the full text of Archbishop Smith's letter, visit http://caedm.ca/WeServe. More details will be posted progressively in the New Year.

"I invite you to spend time in prayer reflecting upon your life of discipleship. Listen to how God is calling you to the ministry of charity and the service of justice," says Archbishop Smith. "In gratitude for God’s abundance in our own lives, let us together share generously to enable God’s work and thus bring the healing presence of Christ to our world."