I am delighted this month to share good news with you about how your generosity affects peoples’ lives and enables the Diocese of Rochester to serve many needs in the name of Jesus Christ.
Did you know that last year more than 31,000 children received religious education in our parishes? Perhaps one of these children who received the life-changing gift of faith was your son or daughter, a niece, nephew, grandchild or the child of a friend. What a tremendous gift this is, for what could be more important than learning about God and our rich traditions of faith? Your gifts helped train catechists, supplied resources and planned curricula to make it happen.
Meanwhile, in a time of increasing need and unexpected disasters, more than 250,000 people in our diocese were helped by Catholic Charities. Among them were 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.
In this time of great moral challenge for our youths, nearly 1,800 teens were able to attend youth rallies for Christ to celebrate their faith, and more than 800 received the recognition of our faith community through the Hands of Christ awards. I believe they also will be inspired by this affirmation to accomplish even greater things for God and the church. Your gifts helped train youth ministers, orchestrated youth rallies and provided scholarships to help our young people grow in faith.
Think as well of the migrant families with children who struggle and work hard to make ends meet, and whose solace is the gift of Christ’s peace brought to them by our migrant ministry. Consider, too, the six deacons ordained, the more than 1,400 couples prepared for the sacrament of matrimony, or the 557 people we welcomed into the Catholic Church through the RCIA program. Your gift provided thousands of hours of classroom training and hundreds of hours of fieldwork so that ministers would be present throughout our 12 counties to share your joys and heartaches, to break open the Word of God, and to celebrate in sacrament life’s most sacred moments.
I could go on and on, of course, citing statistic after statistic about the ways the diocesan church works to improve all our lives, offers hope when we need hope, rescues and renews people every day. Remember, though, that behind every statistic are real people just like you, our fellow pilgrims on the journey.
That is why every year I ask you to support our annual appeal. We have changed its name from “Thanks Giving Appeal” to the “Catholic Ministries Appeal” to better reflect its intent and mission to serve all throughout the diocese. But by whatever name, the appeal supports directly with money — or indirectly through training, materials and support — the many ministries and parishes that serve people throughout the diocese. And you have given generously: In the 2005-06 appeal, for example, more than 37,000 gifts were received toward our $5.3 million goal.
Simply put, the church could not do what it does without you.
Your parish could not do what it does.
And you and I could not be the hands and heart of Christ in communities that sorely need a message of love and encouragement.
The theme of this year’s Catholic Ministries Appeal is “A Time to Share ‚Ä¶ for Generations to Come.” I think of it not only as a theme, but also as a challenge. Generosity is not new to our faith, of course. Since the beginning of the diocese in 1868, families of believers have found spiritual guidance, support and comfort in our parishes and faith communities. Our parents and grandparents helped build up our churches and schools with their sweat and tears, scrimping and saving so that the next generation and the next could enjoy fine church schools and church buildings and, above all, the fruits of our faith.
The need for this kind of energy and support is no less now.
The obligation to keep the church strong for the next generation is no smaller now.
The CMA is the primary vehicle for raising much-needed money for our programs and ministries that positively affect the lives of thousands of people across our 12 counties. And you give “locally” as well: More than half of every dollar raised returns to your parish in the form of services and programming your parish would have a difficult time providing on its 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.
Above all, remember that we do not ask for your support idly. We ask so that we can do God’s good work more effectively — for people just like you.
Peace to all.