In the spirit of September as back-to-school month, may I ask you do a little "assignment?" Please review the list below and cross out any you think are unimportant to our mission as church, our Gospel values and the growth of our Catholic faith in the future:
- Educating our children in the Catholic faith
- Serving people in need through Catholic Charities
- Supporting Catholic schools
- Ministering to young Catholics on college campuses and connecting young adults to their faith
- Visiting the sick in our hospitals
- Reaching out to children and adults of migrant farm families
- Supporting and celebrating the work of our priests, and promoting the priesthood
- Supporting Pope Benedict XVI’s ministries to people worldwide, and national ministries and programs for U.S. Catholics
- Providing our parishes with professional services vital to their daily operation
- Spreading the Gospel message through modern means of communication and promoting positive stories about the Catholic Church in the news media
- Promoting Catholic values on the sanctity of life from conception to death.
- Developing positive relationships with people of other faiths through interreligious dialogue
- Preparing couples for the sacrament of marriage
- Properly preparing people who wish to become Roman Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program.
As you can see, this is not an easy assignment. If you are like me, you’re finding it pretty difficult to say that any one of these ministries is unimportant or not worthy of support.
The fact is each and every one of them, along with others, is vital to building God’s kingdom and to living out our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. Indeed, each of these ministries is connected in direct and indirect ways to our very lives as Roman Catholics.
They are not only what we do as Catholics, but reflect who we are and what we believe.
That is why each fall I ask for your financial support for the Catholic Ministries Appeal, which funds the ministries I listed here and more. I ask for your help so these ministries can continue to operate and thus positively impact the lives of thousands of people here in our diocese and beyond. As you see, such programs serve people from all walks of life, from every parish, every age and circumstances: your relatives, neighbors and friends and, perhaps, even yourself.
This year we have chosen as our campaign theme "Let Your Light Shine," which we hope is a reminder that — as a community of faith and individually as Christians called to imitate Christ — we have the power to provide a light of hope, healing and help for people who need it. When we combine our resources through the Catholic Ministries Appeal, we can do even more.
I would be remiss if I did not thank you once again for your support of last year’s campaign. It was our most successful ever and a testament to your spirit and generosity despite the continuing economic issues that create worry in our nation. You gave out of a sense of good stewardship and as an act of faith. As a result:
- Nearly 70 parishes raised more money last year than the year before.
- The final total of $5.132 million was the most ever collected in the history of the CMA and more than $200,000 dollars more than in the year before.
- This most recent campaign marked the third consecutive year that we have eclipsed $5 million in pledged money.
- The average gift climbed to $155 this past year, as compared to $147 the previous year — the consecutive straight year that the average gift has risen.
I am very grateful to you and thankful for the hard work of our pastors and pastoral administrators who lead this effort and have done very well indeed.
This year we have set as our goal $5.6 million. You should begin to hear more about the 2010-11 campaign in your parish this month, and you will receive mailed materials shortly. Please pray about your gift and, if possible, be as generous as you can, knowing each and every dollar is spent with our diocesan mission in mind.
Only with your support can we be the hands of Christ and a beacon of light for people. I know that I can count on you again, as I always have, to "Let Your Light Shine."
Peace to all.