February 1st will begin another Annual Catholic Appeal from the Diocese. That fundraiser helps maintain all of the operations of the Pastoral Center (i.e., central Catholic offices). This means that all of our parish homes will soon receive the usual letter from the Bishop’s office asking for support. As you have always done in the past, I truly hope that you will once again support this diocesan effort, showing once again that we are a thriving part of the Diocese of Toledo. The letter you get from the Diocese will outline some of the uses of money that comes in from the Campaign. I would like to personalize this promotion, by writing about how the Pastoral Center offices have helped our parish over the past year. It is money from the ACA that kept all the following activity happening.
First of all, as we set up our new YDisciple program, I consulted with the diocesan Youth Office several times. It was Richard Maume, head of that office, who invited me to a meeting he had already set up with one of the YDisciple founders, in order to give Theresa Conley and me more insight into the dynamic of the program. Then it is diocesan youth protocol that continually keeps us healthy as we implement the program. Mr. Maume was also willing to come out and do some training (free of charge) for our group leaders – and something of the sort will happen in the future – but we were not able to schedule a time that enough of our leaders could attend.
Next, consider that I processed a handful of annulments and requests for convalidations, “blessing” the civil marriages of some of our couples. Each time I do this, it involves at least one call to the Diocese to ask for advice, since each case is pretty unique. Then we fill out the very efficient forms provided by the Diocese, and the Marriage Tribunal considers it all.
Next consider the Department of Education of the Diocese. There are numerous times we have had to call the Catholic Schools Office to ask for advice on how to handle some specific dilemma, or to ask for sample materials, such as a teachers’ handbook. Furthermore, it is this office that provides various training opportunities for our teachers. Then there are seminars for our principal. Once again, it is a diocesan curriculum to which we refer to make sure our educational offerings are complete.
Or think about the fact that we have made several new hires in the last year – both in the parish office and the school. When there is need to look for a new employee, I inevitably end up calling the Human Resources Office of the Diocese for help with job descriptions and advertising. The Diocese regularly guides us with a thorough protocol to ensure we are handling employment dynamics correctly.
Next there is the office of the General Legal Counsel. This office served us whenever we signed a contract for some major project in the parish. General Counsel looks over any contract we are considering, to make sure that everything makes sense from a legal point of view. Regularly there have been contracts that have not had insurance components thoroughly enough explained. Legal Counsel realized this for us.
In the past year we have provided three Mysterium Christi courses for ongoing education of area teachers and any other parishioners who wanted to attend. Although I put the materials together, I followed guidelines provided by the Diocese.
When it comes to ongoing spiritual support and education for the clergy – our deacons and me – it is the Vicar for Clergy who is responsible. His office provided two deacons’ conferences in this past year, and organized the afternoon of sanctification for priests in Carey, Ohio this past November. I know the deacons very much appreciated these conferences; and I was very grateful for the gathering of priests.
It is the Office for Vocations that organizes the Andrew Dinners to promote priestly vocations and oversees the formation of all of our seminarians. I attended the most recent Andrew dinner with one young man from our parish. Unfortunately, the dinner was planned on a Tuesday evening, when most of our young men have sports, so no others could attend. So I will ask the Diocese to schedule another dinner on a day that is more convenient for our students’ lives. I am sure the Vocations Office will be more than happy to accommodate us, and more men will be able to attend. Our specific situation aside, however, we certainly want to support the Vocations Office in all its work to encourage more young men to consider priesthood from every part of the Diocese. The ACA is a primary source of funding for the Vocations Office.
Next, there is the Office of Marriage & Family. I now have about four couples in some stage of marriage preparation. When I first sit down with a couple, it is a diocesan pamphlet I use to explain the components of marriage preparation in our Diocese. This includes a listing of opportunities to attend a very solid two-day “Joy-filled Marriage Workshop” that the Diocese has designed, and for which the Diocese has trained presenters. We will sponsor one of these workshops at our own parish on February 27-28. Also included is a pamphlet listing all the places in the Diocese where NFP courses are offered. I am very pleased with what is coming out of the Marriage & Family Office these days.
Also consider the way we have begun to reach out to the local Hispanic population. I called the diocesan Hispanic Office when I first needed to find Spanish liturgical books. Now I have somebody who wants to receive the sacraments of initiation, and I have a call in to the same office to ask about resources.
Finally, there is always need to have recourse to the Finance Department of the Diocese. There were several occasions in the past year when Dianne Jones and I were not quite sure about the best way to account for a special donation given, or a particular financial aspect of some ministry. We called the Diocese for clarification. Then as we have been planning to set up the vocations promotion endowment with money donated from Doris Phlipot, we started with a diocesan template for the statutes. That saved us a ton of work! Then it is the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese that seems to be the very best way to invest the money, assuring competitive interest and investment entities that are not involved with anything contrary to Catholic social teaching. In addition, there is the constant oversight of the Diocese for our parish finances, especially now that our financial system includes an Internet cloud component that allows the Diocese regularly to monitor parish finances, even beyond the budget for an upcoming year or the end-of-year financial statements. This is a safeguard the Diocese provides that should make parishioners feel more confident.
So there is a partial list of concrete ways the diocesan Pastoral Center has helped us in this past year. Honestly, I could easily double the length of this letter, were I to try to give you all the concrete specifics. I hope that with the letter you receive from the Diocese, and with this encouragement from your own pastor, you will once again consider a generous gift to the diocesan Annual Catholic Appeal. I said publicly at our first deans’ meeting with the Bishop back in November that my parishioners give to the Annual Catholic Appeal, because they understand how much the Pastoral Center does to support our parish. I believe that is true. Thank you for prayerfully considering your gift.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,