Cardinal O’Malley to kick off Catholic Appeal by celebrating 3 Masses

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston will kick off this year’s Catholic Appeal with several Masses celebrated by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, church officials said.

O’Malley is slated to hold Mass at St. Luke’s Parish in Belmont on March 1 and at St. Michael Parish in North Andover on March 2. He will also celebrate Mass in Spanish at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence on March 2, the archdiocese said.

“Lawrence has had its share of struggles over the years,” the Rev. Carlos Urbina, the pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption, said in the statement. “With the support of the Catholic Appeal, St. Mary’s is a stronger and safer presence in the community. To know the Cardinal is coming to visit us is incredible. His presence will be like a father’s presence that says to us that we are not alone, and we are in this together.”

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The appeal raises funds that help support 50 ministries and 289 parishes, according to Kathleen Driscoll, the archdiocese’s secretary for institutional advancement.

Over 40,000 people donate to the cause. Last year, parishioners pledged $15.2 million, but this year, the archdiocese hopes to raise $16 million, according to church spokesman Terrence Donilon .

Each parish is to announce the appeal in Masses this weekend. Parishioners will be asked to contribute during the first weekend in March, according to the statement.

The theme of this year’s appeal is “Forward in Hope,” a phrase taken from Pope Francis’ first encyclical, “Lumen Fidei,” which translates to “The Light of Faith.”