Catholic Ministries Appeal is about putting our faith into action
Imagine on the coldest of our upstate New York winter days a child without a decent coat. Imagine an older person shivering without the warmth of a shawl or a blanket.
I simply shudder at that thought, as I am sure you do as well. But it is a sad and harsh reality.
Yet, thanks to Matthew’s Closet, a clothing ministry at Corpus Christi Church in Rochester, far fewer people in our community must bear these hardships that you and I, much more fortunate, are spared.
Under the compassionate and loving gaze of Paul and Bea Robinson, women, men and their children stream in and out steadily, entering empty handed and leaving with bundles of clothing — and hope. The Robinsons, God bless them, coordinated the distribution of some 34,000 articles of clothing, bedding and housewares to women, men and children.
They readily admit that, without your support of the Catholic Ministries Appeal, they could not do as much as they generously do. Their work is echoed throughout our diocese by others like them who passionately put their faith into action with similar ministries that reach out with warmth, food, shelter, inspiration, advice, good counsel.
Matthew’s Closet is but one of a myriad of work supported directly by the appeal or through training, resources and materials. Lest anyone think their gift to the CMA does not do the work Jesus himself asked us to do, please consider that:
* 250,000 people were assisted by one of our 10 Catholic Charities agencies, which use CMA funds to leverage far more money to do the work of the Lord. Know that your donation helped people in poverty, the aged, the homeless, people experiencing job loss, families suffering domestic issues. Some surely are your neighbors, friends you see in church, perhaps even family members. Your gifts helped train counselors, plan programming and provided direct aid to those in need.
* Through our migrant-ministry program, operated by our CMA-supported Parish Support Ministries, we were able to bring the peace of Christ to hardworking families who toil so that we can have fruit and vegetables aplenty
* Nearly 30,000 children in our Diocese received religious education last year through CMA-funded training, curriculum and materials
* Nearly 800 youths were recognized with a Hands of Christ Award and almost 1,000 were brought closer to their faith by attending retreats and similar events — so critical in this age in which so many negative influences attempt to lure them
* More than 500 people joined the Roman Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program
Please consider the ways these and other ministries are changing lives when, later this month, you receive information through the mail or your parish about the CMA.
This year, the theme we have chosen for the CMA is “Building the Faith.” This is a theme that goes back to the days of the first apostles.
“Building the Faith” is about taking care of one another — family, neighbors, those in need. It is about passing on the faith and spreading the Good News to others so that they, too, can receive the Light of Christ. It is about ensuring that the Kingdom of God increases through our own good stewardship, that our “attitude of gratitude” is a catalyst for our own faith in action and generosity to others.
As well, when we support the CMA, we build the faith at the parishes, the heart and soul of our ministry. More than 50 percent of the money you give goes back to parishes in the form of ministry resources and services which they would be pressed to provide on their own.
I ask you to please make a gift to this year’s appeal so that we can continue helping the needy, building up families, supporting the work of our parish communities and keeping the church strong and vibrant for generations to come.
Now, I am often asked, how do I know what to give? How do I make this decision?
I invite families, all people, to pray about this. In prayer and conversation, name the blessings that have given you strength and comfort and hope. Consider how you feel called to give thanks for these and to be the hands of Christ to ensure others are provided for. Consider a gift to the CMA in relation to the richness of God’s own gifts to you. Even a modest gift is a great help. Participation in the CMA is one important expression of stewardship as a way of life.
I can promise you this: Your generosity will be rewarded not just by the good feeling that will course through you, but by God, in ways you cannot even imagine.
Peace to all.