Do you remember your first paycheck as a teen? How did it make you feel?

Did you spend the money earned mowing lawns on a movie, or at the arcade?

Did you pocket your paper-boy income to save for a bicycle, or perhaps a used car?

Maybe you put that paycheck into an account to start saving for college.

Inspired by the Gospel message of giving to the least of our brothers and sisters, 15-year-old Michael O’Hara donated his wages to the Diocesan Annual Campaign (DAC).

“After I turned 15 last year and started looking for a part-time job, I thought, ‘I’m going to give my first paycheck to a charity. I want to donate to help people in need.’ My dad suggested I deposit the paychecks into an account, and donate from there, and so that’s what I’m doing,” said Michael, a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Hershey.

He gave $10 of every $20 from his first paycheck – and then $5 of every $10 – to the campaign. It was an act, he said, motivated by the passage found in Matthew 25.

“In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to give to the least of our brethren, and we’re instructed to render to God the things that are God’s. I want to support the Diocese and its ministries, charities and efforts to serve people,” Michael told The Catholic Witness.

A homeschooled student who works at Pronio’s Market in Hershey and at Hersheypark, Michael said his upbringing in the Church fostered his ability to give things freely for the sake of others.

“Why not give? It’s a first paycheck and I’m a teenager. Some adults don’t even get a first paycheck, or have the ability to work. Not everyone has the money they need,” Michael said.

“On top of that, it feels good to give.”

Through the generosity of donors to the Diocesan Annual Campaign, the Diocese of Harrisburg offers and operates more than 40 ministry programs that directly impact people in need.

Consider the impact of the works and ministries the campaign enables:

  • Warm meals at homeless shelters
  • Programs for people recovering from addiction
  • Child care education for single mothers
  • Housing and stability for homeless families
  • Assistance for immigrant families
  • Support for the next generation of clergy

The Diocese can only accomplish these works through the generous support of parishioners to the DAC.

Diocesan programs also support:

  • Catholic education in 39 schools, religious education programs and RCIA classes
  • Evangelization programs in 12 colleges and 14 hospitals within the Diocese
  • Thousands of youth in Catholic Youth Organization athletic programs
  • Ministry to the engaged, married, separated and divorced
  • Countless individuals and families assisted through more than 20 human services programs offered through Catholic Charities.

The DAC is the main funding source for these programs. Gifts to the DAC are vital to provide these services, which directly impact the lives of individuals, parishes and communities.

Ninety-five percent of the contributions to the Diocesan Annual Campaign go directly to the ministry programs. The remaining five percent are used for administrative costs. No monies will be used to cover the Diocese’s clergy abuse settlement fees.

Inspired to help advance the mission and ministries of the Diocese, one parishioner from Corpus Christi Parish in Chambersburg made a one-time gift of $30,000 at the start of the Diocesan Annual Campaign.

“The Church is my family, and for me, family is first,” said the donor, who wished to remain anonymous for this article.

Make no mistake, the donor isn’t touting their ability to make such a large gift, but is rather focused on giving generously as a means of stewardship.

“It’s about generosity, and giving from what you have,” the individual said. “For example, you see elderly people who give $3 for a charity. That’s not a small amount; that’s generous because $3 can be significant for them.”

“There are those of us who have benefited from the economy and success, so why not help other people through the programs of the Diocese,” the donor said. “If I can write a check that will help dozens of the Diocese’s ministries – even if they’re programs that I haven’t used – then what better way to help.”

Each year, the Diocese is challenged to meet the increasing demand for services. It would not be able to continue to offer its programs and ministries without the support of pastors, parishes and parishioners.

Learn more about the campaign, its ministries and how to donate at The website features the financial goal of the campaign, the uses for the monies collected, stories from those impacted by the generosity of donors, and a message from Bishop Ronald Gainer.

Questions on the campaign should be directed to the Diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development by calling 717-657-4804, ext. 336, or via email at

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness