Leaders in Catholic parishes of Carbon County gathered Monday night in the social hall of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Summit Hill, to officially kick off the 2011 Bishop's Annual Appeal of the Diocese of Allentown.

The appeal, which this year has a theme of "From His Goodness, We Have All Received," was hailed by His Excellency, the Most Rev. John Barres, Bishop of Allentown, as one of the "very exciting things happening in our church." A video produced by the diocese's Office of Communications elaborated on the bishop's description of the appeal, showing success stories related to the 2010 appeal that exceeded the $4-million mark in the five-county region.

Monday's event was the official kickoff of the Carbon County portion of the drive, in which Dr. Clement McGinley Jr. and his wife, Sophie, of Jim Thorpe, are the honorary chairpersons.

James Friend, director of the Office of Stewardship and Development, welcomed the local leaders to the catered reception, stressing the success of the appeal will "make certain the Catholic faith will continue beyond our lifetimes." In his remarks, Bishop Barres said there are "very exciting trends in the universal Catholic church today," emphasizing Catholics are called daily to "be engaged with sacred scripture."

He said those trends present "an opportunity for a new era of Eucharistic devotion, an era of putting the Eucharist at the center of all that we do."

In a related note, the bishop called for more emphasis on youth ministry, saying that initiative will make sure a new generation becomes prepared to continue to current work being done in the Catholic church by today's leaders and donors.

Several pastors of area Catholic churches participated in the kickoff, including the Rev. James Burdess, pastor of the host church; the Rev. Kenneth Medve, pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church, Lansford; the Rev. Anthony Drouncheck, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Nesquehoning; the Rev. James Ward, pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Jim Thorpe; and the Rev. Msgr. John Chizmar, pastor of St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church, Lake Harmony, and the head of the Carbon Deanery.

Friend said the 2011 appeal ties into the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Allentown. Printed brochures for the program feature images of Bishop Barres and his predecessors, school students, priests, seminarians, senior citizens and women religious, all who have benefitted from previous appeals.

Proceeds from the appeal will be utilized to support the social service and ministerial needs of residents in the five-county region (Carbon, Schuylkill, Lehigh, Berks and Northampton). The anticipated breakdown of funding uses includes:

Heath and Human services, 48 percent; Catholic Life and Evangelization, 13 percent; Education and Formation of Seminarians, Priests and Deacons, 10 percent; Education, 23 percent; and Administration, 6 percent.

Parishioners around the diocese will receive additional information about the appeal at Masses this coming weekend, as well as in program brochures and an invitation to participate by Bishop Barres which will be mailed to them this week.

To watch the video of the appeal, contact the diocese at 1-800-831-4443 or go to www.adbaa.org.