Arthur Peters is executive director of ShareLife and director of development at the Archdiocese of Toronto.

ShareLife comes up shy in difficult year

By 
  • January 28, 2021

The Archdiocese of Toronto ultimately fell short of its $13.8-million target for the parish component of its annual ShareLife charitable appeal.

However, the fact that $11.68 million of that ambitious goal was achieved in the worst Canadian and global economic year in living memory is evidence the 2020 ShareLife parish campaign can be viewed as a triumph.

“We received a very generous response,” said Arthur Peters, executive director of ShareLife and director of development for the Archdiocese of Toronto. “We are very grateful to the parishioners of the archdiocese for the outpouring of generosity to the needs of ShareLife and the agencies especially in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.”

Overall, the 2020 campaign came in just over $1 million shy of reaching its goal for all the components. The parish campaign combined with the $959,862 corporate campaign haul and an “everything else” element (schools, employees, miscellaneous) that “yielded over $1.9 million” led to ShareLife accruing just over $14.5 million of its $15.65 million overall target.

A major gift came courtesy of the Sisters of Service of Canada, whose $1 million donation went a long way in making up for the parish shortfall, while another $500,000 came from an anonymous individual who pledged to match parish contributions up to that amount during October.

Peters said that $8.6 million of the donations have been dispersed among the more than 40 social service agencies ShareLife supports. Families in crisis, people with special needs, refugees, children and youth, the elderly and victims of domestic violence are among those benefitting from the aid. 

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, commended these agencies for their work in an unprecedented year in the 2020 ShareLife Impact Report.

“Agencies funded by ShareLife quickly adapted their programs in response to the pandemic,” wrote Collins. “From remote counselling for those in distress, to reaching out to isolated seniors, to supporting victims of family violence, these agencies have provided a lifeline to those in greatest need.”

That unprecedented year saw ShareLife and its agencies working on the fly as they dealt with the ever-changing landscape brought on by COVID-19. The pandemic hit just as ShareLife was preparing for the first of its three ShareLife Sunday collections in parishes that were forced to suspend worship services due to health regulations brought in to stem the spread of COVID. 

The campaign rebooted on the weekend of Sept. 12-13. The second and third collection weekends were staged Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 10-11) and at weekend Masses before Remembrance Day.

All these challenges are affecting this year’s campaign as well. Normally kicking off at the beginning of Lent, with the first ShareLife Sunday in March, the campaign has been pushed back. The start line for the 2021 campaign is April 17-18. The following two ShareLife Sundays will be spaced further apart in 2021 as the COVID-19 forecast remains uncertain in Canada even though vaccines are rolling out throughout the country. June 19-20 and Oct. 2-3 are the current weekends earmarked for the second and third collections.

Campaign targets are still being discussed.

“We are obviously mindful that many parishioners are facing challenges, but at the same time we are mindful of the needs of our agencies because the demand for the agencies’ services has gone up,” said Peters.

He said the campaign goals will likely be finalized by early February. He also expects that parishioners on the mailing list will be in contacted in “late March or early April” with an invitation to contribute. 

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