While there are many things that are part of our Catholic identity, one of the things that has always been important to me is that as Catholics, we have a sense of unity, but also a sense of mission.
With respect to unity, Jesus is present on our altars all over the world, and we believe that our Church was founded by Jesus Himself. And while there are many parishes throughout the world, we share the common faith and as such people come together to build churches. Our parish here as we turn 150 is an example of that.
But all of us share a sense of mission too. Throughout the world the Church as a social justice mission, and people give so much. Our parish history is filled with people who sacrificed greatly to build our parish up to a thriving faith community now 150 years strong. Beyond that though, we have always thought beyond the walls of our parishes, which is why the Church is a global leader in service to the poor, evangelization, and social justice. Even cloistered nuns pray for you and me. The point is that the Catholic never looks inward, but looks outward.
Each year, our Archdiocese asks us to look outward through our support of the Catholic Services Appeal. While we can do a lot on our own in our parishes, no single parish could have all the resources necessary to help the Catholic School system thrive, to run a mission in Venezuela, the help the homeless, assist seminarians and provide services for numerous ministries. And that’s where the Catholic Services Appeal comes in.
You probably have been receiving information in the mail concerning the annual Catholic Services Appeal. Last weekend, envelopes were in the pews for people to put in the collection plate. You can still put them in the plate this weekend, or donate online, or via mail as many so generously do at our parish.
Working together, the Appeal money is pooled to go to numerous important ministries of our diocese. These include the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women; Campus Ministry at the Newman Center and Saint Paul’s Outreach; Catholic Charities which will assist the poor (which receives nearly a million dollars for it’s work from the appeal); ministry to the deaf; funds to assist the Catholic Schools; promotion of evangelization; hospital chaplaincy; Indian Ministry; Latino Ministry; $1,800,000 for parishes in the form of rebates; prison chaplaincy; funds to help Saint Paul Seminary and Saint John Vianney College Seminary and support for the Venezuelan Mission.
Additionally, for each parish that reaches it’s goal, a rebate is given back to the parish of 25%. Our goal last year was $56,072 and the generous parishioners of Saint Joseph’s pledged $60,086, the vast majority of which has been collected. It’s hardly surprising to me because people here are so generous with their time, talent and treasure.
When you give to the Catholic Services Appeal you provide food and shelter, education, spiritual support, and sacraments to individuals who are in need, disabled, imprisoned, hospitalized, or in nursing homes. You support low-income seniors, pregnant mothers, refugees, and immigrants. You support seminarians preparing for the priesthood. You help our 65,000 brothers and sisters at the mission parish of Jesucristo Resucitado in Venezuela. All of this happens when people come together.
The Catholic Services Appeal is a separate corporation from the Archdiocese. They provide funding for services, but have no bond with the Archdiocese. This means that they are unaffected by the bankruptcy filing, and no part of the appeal is going to settle lawsuits. Rather, the appeal provides for important services for people. The Archdiocese has been very transparent with respect to finances. All of your donations go to support services and needs that we need in the local parish and universal Church.
As a generous parish, we need to be always mindful of our connections to one another. I certainly see this all of the time here at Saint Joe’s, in that so many come together to help make things happen. Every gift helps, even if you can give only a small amount.
Finally, be sure to check out the Catholic Services Appeal web site: http://www.csafspm.org. Here you’ll find all the information you could want on the Appeal, including a break down of dollar amounts, frequently asked questions, and more detailed information on each group who is helped through the Appeal.
Thank you for your generosity, and never forget what a big impact you can make, whether you are giving a few dollars or a few hundred. God bless you, and thank you for prayerfully considering a gift for this important yearly stewardship effort to support the services of our Archdiocese. Working together, we truly can have such an impact!