I’d like to use this space this month to tie up some “loose ends,” if you will, since I have not been able to communicate as often as I would have liked during my recovery from my recent hip replacement.
First of all, I want to tell you I am very grateful for your support in the 2007-08 Catholic Ministries Appeal, which officially ended on May 30. It was quite successful, as you may have seen in recent media reports, in that:
* The total amount pledged — $5.2 million — marks the first time in the appeal’s 27-year history that we exceeded $5 million.
* This marks the fourth consecutive year that the campaign has seen a significant increase in the total amount of money raised. In addition to a nearly 5 percent increase over last year’s final total, the average gift for this year’s campaign increased to $140, as compared to $132 last year.
* The number of parishes that reached their assigned goal climbed to 42, with another 20 parishes bringing in more than 90% of their goals.
We came very close to our goal of $5.3 million, but, rather than be disappointed that we did not make it, I am simply delighted that you showed such generosity and support for the church of Rochester and your parish’s CMA effort in a year of considerable challenges ‚Äì at a time when prices at the pump and in the grocery are escalating and in a year in which some admittedly controversial, unpopular but necessary decisions were announced.
It as been my experience these nearly 30 years as your bishop that the people of our diocese always have been astoundingly generous, even in the most uncertain of economic times, helping the church fulfill its mission of helping the poor, aged and infirm, of nurturing our youth in the ways and traditions of our faith, of spreading the good news wherever the light of Christ is needed. That’s really what the appeal is all about, and you consistently have shown a willingness to be part of the effort.
So, thank you to all those who made a gift, to the hundreds of volunteers who helped parishes in the campaign, and to all the pastoral leaders who worked so hard to generate support and enthusiasm for this worthwhile effort.
Speaking of enthusiasm, I have been very encouraged to hear good reports about the many ways our spiritual renewal, Spirit Alive!, has built some momentum of its own and is helping to change people’s lives. This is a very exciting, grace-filled time in our diocese, and it is even more exciting because we really have only just begun.
In the first season of the renewal, we asked people to begin thinking about ways they could deepen their relationship with Jesus. We asked people to visit the special Web site devoted to the renewal, www.rochesterspiritalive.org; participate in a retreat I recorded on DVD; and, on Pentecost, renew our commitment to the Lord and to ongoing growth in our relationship with God.
As the second season of Spirit Alive! begins this fall, we will strive as a community of believers to deepen our knowledge and love of the Scriptures. I know you will find this a rich time, indeed; a time in which God’s word will fill your heart as perhaps never before.
To that end, we plan a special Blessing of Bibles in our parishes on the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 30, and other programs and initiatives to enrich your study of Scripture. One particularly intriguing program, called The Mark Project, is and is based on the idea “What would happen if everyone read the same book at the same time?” More details will be coming soon.
Finally, I want to wish you a safe, happy and peaceful summer. Life for most of you, I imagine, has become very busy, indeed — full of appointments and things to do. If you are able, I do hope that you can find time during this beautiful gift from God we call summer to take a step away from the busyness and enjoy extra time with family and friends and the loveliness of summer days, picnics, a refreshing swim or a relaxing walk in the woods. These are precious days. Enjoy them!
Peace to all.