It’s once again time for our Bishop’s Annual Catholic Appeal. This year’s theme is “Building His Church, Fulfilling His Mission”. Very soon you should be getting in the mail a letter from the Bishop, introducing you to this year’s Appeal. Every year our parish has been meeting its goal, and this is something to be proud of, in a good sort of way. And it’s a sign of life and support for the Diocese. This year’s goal is the same as last year’s: $29,000. I was so proud and amazed that we met our goal last year, even in the midst of some other pretty big projects for which we had to collect money just prior to the Appeal (and afterwards). Please remember that anything the Diocese collects above the goal gets returned to us; we can apply this to other projects (which will be discussed with the finance council, to determine the best way to use any extra monies returned).
In a nutshell, the purpose of the Appeal is to provide necessary funds for operating the Pastoral Center of the Diocese, as it in turn supports all of the parishes in a myriad of ways. It’s worth noting that in an effort to reduce spending as much as possible at the Pastoral Center, all of the employees there experienced a wage freeze for this fiscal year. By means of our bulletin, we’ve tried to keep you abreast of all the other ways the Bishop has tried to reduce expenses at the Pastoral Center. So I will not rehash all of that now. (It helps to know the Bishop himself is trying his best to make the Pastoral Center evangelistic, effective and efficient when it comes to the finances.) Here are concrete ways the Pastoral Center has supported our parish in this past year, since the last Appeal:
The first thing that comes to mind is the Bishop’s first formal visit to our parish last spring to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. Organizing such a trip entails much administration at the level of the Pastoral Center. There are people who have to make the schedule work for the Bishop. But then, especially, there is the Office of Worship where many of the practical details for the ceremony itself are handled. There were many communications back and forth between the Worship Office and our parish, in order to ask the right questions and eventually organize all the details for the Confirmation liturgy. When it was all said and done, the Confirmation ceremony came off without a hitch; and both the Bishop and all of us involved at the parish level enjoyed quite a beautiful encounter overall. Next year we will have another large group of 7th-8th graders to be Confirmed.
Then I think of all the support we continue to get for the proper care of our finances. The Diocese provides a couple of Business Managers’ seminars each year; and our own Finance Manager attends these to keep updated on all the latest finance and personnel requirements. Furthermore, there are regular newsletters from the Pastoral Center Finance Department, to keep us informed in an ongoing way.
The Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese continues to support us in many ways. Our new principal of Divine Mercy School, Joe Linder, is provided with a Diocesan mentor to guide him as he steps into his new role. There also some seminars provided throughout the year for new principals. Whenever we have a question pertaining to something regarding the school, the School’s Office has been quick to respond and support.
Then there is all the support we’ve gotten regarding the bigger improvement projects on our campuses. For any project over $20,000 (a threshold just moved to $30,000 by a new decree from the Bishop), we are in contact with the chancery for the Bishop’s permission. This includes running all contracts by the Diocesan Legal Counsel, so that we are not left to struggle with all the legal jargon on our own. Both the required permission and the requirement to run legal contracts by the Diocese are very helpful and healthy, I believe. I can’t imagine having to be expert in these areas myself, making significant decisions with parishioner resources, yet without the guidance of experts the Diocese provides.
Next, we cannot forget about the rich Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy which ended only a few months ago. This special Jubilee was declared by Pope Francis. Our ability to enter so richly into the observance of the Year of Mercy was very much dependent upon and guided by leadership from the Pastoral Center, beginning with the Bishop himself. We were privileged to host one of the four Holy Doors in the Diocese. And there was a ton of administration and communication that came from the diocesan offices to accomplish this beautiful endeavor. Throughout the year we were encouraged by two homily series – one on the spiritual works of mercy, the other on three pressing societal issues beckoning our mercy – and these homily series were initiated and informed by the Pastoral Center offices.
Next, we have processed several annulments and regularized several marriages in this past year. This always requires the processing of paperwork, and analysis, on the part of personnel at the Pastoral Center.
Finally, we have to remember the seminarians, and vocations endeavors. Our parish supports three seminarians directly by means of the second collection when there is a fifth weekend in a month. Each of these seminarians in one way or another has encountered our parishioners and enriched us. Vocations efforts simply have to continue with great vigor, if we are to help young men hear the Lord’s call to the priesthood; if we are to continue having the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass so available to us as we do now. “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life”, says Vatican II. What would we do without priests? The Pastoral Center’s Office of Vocations obviously plays a key role in encouraging vocations and training those men who step forward.
As has been the case for the last couple of years that I’ve written this personal appeal letter to you, I could go on and on with very concrete examples of support from the Pastoral Center for our parish. But space really prohibits this, and I think you understand how genuinely appreciative I am, and I think we all can be, for all the efforts of the Pastoral Center that are practically supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal. Please consider prayerfully what you are able to give to the Appeal once again this year. I sent in my own sacrificial gift a couple weeks ago when the priests’ version of the Appeal came to me. Thank you!
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,