Giving in joy and solidarity - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Giving in joy and solidarity

Having grown up in a parish staffed by the Augustinian Fathers, I have always had a certain affection for St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo, and for his mother, St. Monica, whose prayers for her son influenced his conversion from paganism to Christianity.

In my years as bishop, I have tried to make my own the values Augustine expressed when he told the people of Hippo that with them he was a Christian and for them he was a bishop. He made himself one with them in their discipleship to the Lord Jesus; he acknowledged that his discipleship would be lived out in service to the community as he worked to draw them to deeper bonds of faith and affection.

I think of Augustine today because I am thinking about our Catholic Ministries Appeal and the fact that the CMA is close to my heart both as its leader (bishop) and as a donor (disciple). I believe it is my responsibility as bishop/leader to do all I can to be sure that there are adequate funds available to stimulate and stand in support of a fruitful pastoral life in our local church. I believe no less that it is my responsibility as a disciple/donor to do the very best I can to support the common works of the people of this wonderful diocese.

And, so under the hat of bishop/leader, I send out letters to you each year setting forth in summary form a list of the good – the necessary – work that the CMA helps us to accomplish.

Under the hat of disciple/donor, I receive from the CMA office each year a gift card reminding me of the amount I gave last year, requesting that I give again and – would you believe it? – encouraging me to give a bit more this year, if my circumstances allow.

When I receive that letter, I do with it what I encourage you to do when you receive my letter. I think about the goods and gifts and resources of my life and whence they come; the financial responsibilities that are mine; and the other charities I would like to support. Then I make a gift that is above – even if only a little – what I gave last year. I can make my payments by payroll deduction over several months. This helps me to give more than I could give with one October gift.

I do that out of a sense of responsibility to the local church I love and because, whenever possible, I try not to ask something of you that I have not done myself. But, to be honest, I may do it in some part because of the pleasure and sense of joy it gives me to be in solidarity with you in this effort.

I acknowledge that my position as bishop gives me a perspective, an experience that many of you may not have of the good done through the CMA. I refer here to the privilege I have almost every day of seeing the fruits of your gifts at work in the faces of people who benefit from your generosity – the depressed who are encouraged, the naked who now have clothes, the child or adult who comes to new knowledge or insight into our faith, the pastoral leaders (and parishes) who receive a boost from support that is available to them in information technology, human resources and finance.

Let me invite you please — both as bishop and brother donor to the CMA — to do the following:

1) Watch the CMA video and read the written materials available to you in the Catholic Courier and your parish bulletin about the good work made possible by the CMA.

2) Spend some time in conversation and prayer with your spouse, family and friends about the possibility of making a gift to the CMA.

3) Decide on a level of giving that is possible and appropriate for you. Last year’s average gift was $132.00. That may be too much for some, just right for others and too little for another group.

4) Follow the progress of your parish community and encourage others to participate in ways possible to you, and pray daily please for the success of the CMA. It is very important to the health and vitality of our diocese.

I offer you my sincere thanks.

Peace to all.

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