The Allentown Diocese launched its 2012 Bishop's Annual Appeal in Carbon County on Tuesday night during a gathering of local and diocesan leaders held in St. Joseph Catholic Church hall, Summit Hill.

The Most Reverend Bishop John O. Barres, D.D., S.T. D., J.C.L., Bishop of Allentown, joined pastors of the Carbon Deanery; Thomas and Betty Lou McBride, co-chairpersons of the county drive; and parishioners from county churches during the program, at which time the needs to provide funding for thevarious diocesan ministries was underscored.

"All of us are called to a radical love, a powerful love, for God and our fellow man. That's what the Bishop's Annual Appeal is all about," said the bishop. "There are so many dimensions of the Appeal that are so living and so vibrant. I am grateful you can join us."

The Appeal is used for a variety of needs, including Health and Human Services, where 48 percent of the fund proceeds are utilized. The diocese spends 13 percent of the donations on Catholic Life and Evangelization, 10 percent on Education and Formation of Seminarians, Priests and Deacons, 23 percent on Education and six percent on Administration.

The bishop added, "As donors, you expect fiscal accountability, and we want to deliver that to you. The causes are great. The needs are many."

The McBrides, Jim Thorpe residents, accepted the challenge of serving as co-chairpersons of the county drive, succeeding Dr. Clement and Sophie McGinley, also of Jim Thorpe. The previous year, Patrick and Pamela Reilly, also of Jim Thorpe, headed the campaign.

Betty Lou McBride spoke on behalf of herself andf her husband, saying they agreed to serve as co-chairpersons for a variety of reasons, but mainly "because the need is the."

She recalled her childhood when her father passed away when she was eight years old, leaving her mother, her and two siblings, ages 13 and 4. "We were left with nothing and I could only imagine the number of nights my mother stayed up wondering where we would get food."

Mrs. McBride said the Appeal helps tremendously in those kinds of situations, providing assistance to the needy and numerous other worthwhile causes.

She talked about her husband's role in chairing a campaign in Florida to raise millions of dollars to build a new church there in the 1970s, saying he fulfilled a "promise to God to 'give' later."

The speaker pointed out she and her husband believe commitments to help others so often come back in other rewards, adding that she and her husband "have been blessed."

Other speakers included Jim Friend, Secretary for Stewardship and Development for the diocese, and Patrick Hockenberry, director of the Appeal and Parish Stewardship.

Friend stressed the "long laundry list" of ministries supported by the diocese, adding, "Every year, we continue to exceed the previousl year's contributions." The result, he said, is "our ability to help as many people as possible.

Among the many forms of assistance provided by the Appeal are assistance with hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, illness and unemployment. Other beneficiaries of the fund are the elementary and secondary schools of the dicoese, as well as Catholic universities of the diocese, while other proceeds also are utilized for outreach programs, including marriage preparation, enrichment programs and prison minitries.