October 22, 2010

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Stewardship appeal gives us a chance to do Christ’s work

The “Christ our Hope: Compassion in Community” stewardship appeal is our major annual parish and archdiocesan appeal. The success of this appeal is crucial to our ability to fund the many ministries carried out in our parishes and throughout the archdiocese. This year, we have set a goal of raising $5.7 million from across the archdiocese.

We are blessed to have many gifted and talented people in our parishes in central and southern Indiana who share their time and talent and expertise in our many ministries, such as our outstanding Catholic Charities agencies. Whether we think of volunteers at work in Terre Haute or New Albany or Tell City, your gift of time and talent is valued by many people in need.

The Lord is always calling us to work in his vineyard. Young or old, our local Church needs you to share some of your time, talent and treasure with our parishes and our archdiocese.

Recently at Mass, we heard the familiar parable in the Gospel according to Matthew where Jesus tells the disciples about the landowner who goes out to hire laborers in his vineyard. The landowner hires some workers in the morning, and promises to pay them a set wage for the day’s work. At noon and 3 p.m., he hires more workers for the same wage. He goes out again near the end of the day, and finds some more people without work. Even though the work day is about over, he sends them too into the vineyard, promising to pay them the same wage as the workers he had hired early in the morning (Mt 20:1-16).

God is inviting each and every one of us to his service. Some of us hear the call early and others not until late in the day. We hear the call in different ways. When we hear the call and how we hear it doesn’t matter as much as our response to it. To work in the vineyard is to collaborate with Christ in the redemption of the world. Our time on Earth is short, but our reward when we answer Christ’s call is for eternity.

Not everyone has time to volunteer with Catholic Charities. All of us, however, can serve Christ and the Church by taking part in the Christ Our Hope appeal.

Our parishes and our Archdiocese of Indianapolis need your help to do Christ’s work. Faith has to be about something more than just a personal reaching out for the things that are unseen. Faith can be concrete and practical. Our Church lives in the real world.

That’s why we have focused the Christ Our Hope appeal on Pope Benedict XVI’s observation in his first encyclical titled “God is Love.” Pope Benedict wrote, “The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her threefold responsibility of proclaiming the Word of God, celebrating the sacraments, and exercising the ministry of charity.”

We have simplified the Christ Our Hope appeal by tying each of these three ­responsibilities to one of the three areas where our ministry needs are the greatest: supporting our Catholic schools and religious education programs; supporting our seminarians, deacons and retired priests; and caring for people most in need throughout the archdiocese, which we do primarily through Catholic Charities.

We can’t proclaim the Word of God unless we hand on the faith through our schools, and religious education and faith formation programs. Without priests, we wouldn’t have the Eucharist, and without the Eucharist, we wouldn’t have a Church. We need to support our priests and deacons in order to celebrate the sacraments. To exercise our ministry of charity, we need to support the ministries that our parishes and archdiocese carry out to care for those most in need.

This year, we are inviting you to decide which of the three areas—Catholic education, vocations or caring for the poor—that you want your money to go for. People have been telling us they would like to have more say in determining where their commitment will be spent. You will be able to do that on the appeal pledge card.

We have divided the archdiocese into five geographical regions based on our deaneries, and you will be able to see how much of the $5.7 million is supporting ministries where you and your fellow parishioners live.

We obviously carry out more ministries than those that fall under education, vocations and charities. If you are wondering how we are going to pay for everything, there is no need to worry. In addition to our annual appeal, we also have revenue from the Sunday and Holy Day collections as well as money from our endowments.

I’m happy about the changes that we have made to our appeal. We have listened to people throughout the archdiocese, and I believe you will respond enthusiastically.

I need your help. †

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