October 27, 2023

Archbishop says appeal impacts more lives ‘when we do this together’

Clayton and Sunita Nunes, members of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington, smile during a United Catholic Appeal event at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on Sept. 28. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Clayton and Sunita Nunes, members of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington, smile during a United Catholic Appeal event at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on Sept. 28. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

First-year seminarians Antonio Harbert and Joshua Russell have all the youth and energy of college freshman. They’re quick to joke, quick to laugh, and admit to appreciating a free meal.

But they are especially grateful for all the people who make their formation at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis possible by contributing to the archdiocese’s annual United Catholic Appeal (UCA).

“Seminarian formation is so important,” said Harbert. “Without seminarians, there’s no priests, no Eucharist, and we need the Eucharist for salvation.”

He and Russell assisted at a Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis as part of an evening promoting the UCA on Sept. 28.

Supporting the appeal is about “building the house of God,” Archbishop Charles C. Thompson said in his homily during the Mass. “Not building a building, but building up the Church, building up the people, the ministries, the services and the witness that we give to the world.”

The annual appeal makes possible—for the upcoming year—the services and ministries that build the Church in ways that are too vast for a parish or deanery alone to address.

Seminarian and deacon formation, caring for retired priests, sheltering the homeless, providing affordable mental health services, offering large-scale help to those in need through Catholic Charities—these are just a few of the 33 ministries UCA donations support.

“Nothing is too big if we do it as the body of Christ,” said the archbishop, “if we do it united as Catholics as the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.”

‘Every penny helps us reach more people’

The works and accomplishments of those ministries in the last year were shared at a dinner at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center following the Mass. (Related article: Nov. 4-5 is the annual UCA intention weekend to support seminarian formation, Catholic Charities, retired priests and more)

This year’s goal of $6.3 million “is a real number,” said Jolinda Moore, archdiocesan executive director of stewardship and development and the Catholic Community Foundation.

“These ministries each have a vision and a plan,” she explained. “At the end of the day, they can’t charge a fee to offset the total cost of their services. They need the support of the United Catholic Appeal for that funding.”

She explained how, with “much thought, prayer and discernment,” leaders of each ministry determine its financial need for the year. The budgets then “move through many careful stages of review” and are presented to the archdiocese’s finance council.

“After careful review and recommendation, the budget goes before the archbishop for his review and discernment,” she continued. “The amount exceeding the budget figure approved becomes the goal for the United Catholic Appeal.

“We simply can’t raise those funds without the help of each of you.”

Moore noted that 100% of the money donated to the UCA goes to the 33 supported ministries.

“Whether someone gives $50, $500 or $5,000, every penny helps us reach more people,” she said.

“We do invite you to consider donating at our Miter Society level, which is $1,500-$25,000,” Moore said. “But your gift, no matter the amount, matters.”

By each person contributing some amount, Moore said, “People won’t have to be turned away, and these ministries will be able to grow and serve more people.”

‘A huge blessing for all of us’

Several of those present at the dinner spoke with The Criterion about the impact they’ve witnessed of ministries supported by the UCA.

“We live in a society where there’s increasing rates of anxiety and suicide,” said Marianne Price. She and her husband Francis are members of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.

“We [Catholics] actually have the good news. We realize we’ve been saved. We just need to get the message out there, and we need priests to be able to help us do that.”

Priests like Harbert and Russell hope to one day be.

In addition to his succinct “no seminarians, no priests, no Eucharist” statement on the importance of the UCA for helping fund seminarian formation, Harbert noted the role of that financially assisted formation in his vocational call.

“In my spiritual autobiography I had to do for seminary, I wrote down that I have never felt more peace while serving,” said the member of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville. “That’s what ultimately led me to the seminary, that I’m at peace in this process of discerning a call to serve through the priesthood.”

The peace that comes from the lack of financial concerns is a blessing, Russell added.

“The less that I have to worry about money, the better,” said the member of Holy Family Parish in New Albany. “I want to be able to focus on Jesus and focus on serving his [people].”

Clayton and Sunita Nunes are helping provide that freedom from worry. As a member of the board of overseers for Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Clayton has a unique view of the impact the couple’s UCA donations have.

“I see the joy [the seminarians’] vocation brings them, and the education that we are able to offer

them,” said Clayton, who with Sunita, is a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington.

He also noted two other UCA-supported ministries that impact seminarians as well as other Catholics in central and southern Indiana: vocations and faith formation.

“Those are a huge blessing for all of us,” he said.

So are all of the ministries supported by the United Catholic Appeal, said Marianne Price’s husband Francis.

“We’re entering into a society now that is almost pagan,” he noted. “It’s anti-Christian.

“So, I think it’s very important that the Church really keeps our ministries going, supporting the poor, supporting people in need. There are just so many people that need help—and we help them because they’re made in the image of God.”

Far more impact ‘when we do this together’

Archbishop Thompson reiterated the call for each person to contribute to the United Catholic Appeal.

Referencing the Gospel story of the widow who contributed two pennies, the archbishop said Jesus made his message clear: “It’s not about how much she gave. It’s about the spirit in which she gave. She gave completely of herself. She gave with complete trust, with complete surrender.

“We’re all called to be a part of the mission, to carry out the mission. We need … the means to bring the good news … and serve the poor and vulnerable” in the 39 counties of the archdiocese.

“Each and every one of us is called to holiness and mission,” the archbishop added. “That co-responsibility impacts thousands and thousands of lives throughout central and southern Indiana.

“When we do this together, we have a far more profound impact on the lives of others. We do this together as one Church, one mission, all centered in Christ through the Eucharist.”

(For more information on the annual United Catholic Appeal, to watch videos of people sharing their story of being assisted by ministries supported by the appeal, or to donate, go to unitedcatholicappeal.org. More information is also available by contacting the Office of Stewardship and Development at 317-236-1415 or uca@archindy.org.)

Local site Links: