September 25, 2009

‘Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community’ is new focus of annual archdiocesan stewardship appeal

By Sean Gallagher

“Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community” logo“Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community” is the new name for the annual archdiocesan stewardship appeal.

After several months of research and conversations with parish leaders across the archdiocese, the new approach and name for the appeal were developed. They represent the first major change in the appeal in a decade.

Archdiocesan Catholics will learn more about the appeal in coming weeks.

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, who has been reflecting on Christ as the source of our hope in a recent series of columns in The Criterion, recently spoke about the change in the annual stewardship appeal.

“All of us are given the opportunity to offer Christ’s compassion to other members of our community, many of whom suffer and are feeling alone,” Archbishop Buechlein said. “Christ is our hope because he is the ultimate source of healing and consolation.

“And so we call our new annual initiative ‘Christ our Hope: Compassion in Community.’ I invite all of you to help us be that hope for those folks who carry heavy burdens and need us.”

As in years past, the appeal will invite Catholics to commit to support and to participate in the mission of both their parish and the archdiocese as a whole.

But in Christ Our Hope, the idea that there is one community of faith in the archdiocese, which is made up of Catholics spread out across parishes in 39 counties, will be emphasized.

David Milroy, the executive director for the archdiocesan secretariat for stewardship and development, has experienced this fact as a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus in the Seymour Deanery.

“One way in which we do have a very visible sense of being part of the broader Church is through the permanent diaconate program,” he said. “Deacon [William] Jones was a member of the first class of permanent deacons in the archdiocese.

“Currently, we have three parishioners studying for the permanent diaconate: Bradley Anderson, Thomas Hill and Steven House. I believe that parishioners are gaining a sense that the education of these fine men is supported by the broader archdiocese, and that these men will also be serving in ministries outside of St. Bartholomew.”

Milroy also gained an appreciation for the way in which all the parishes of the archdiocese make up one community of faith as a co-chair of the Called to Serve appeal with his wife, Tessa, in 2004.

“As you travel around the archdiocese, you see the wide range of parishes, schools and ministries, those that are strong and thriving as well as those that are struggling to carry out their mission,” he said. “I believe that one way to think of the role of the archdiocese is as a servant that helps to reinforce the strong and bolster the weak.

“Whether we are talking about financial support for vocations and retired priests, our charity outreach or the support of struggling parishes and schools, there are so many needs that cannot be met at the parish level. They can only be met when we pool our resources.”

Another new aspect of Christ Our Hope will be the chance for Catholics in parishes across central and southern Indiana to volunteer year-round in ministries that are carried out at the archdiocesan level.

These are shared ministries that cannot be handled by one parish, but need the collaboration of several faith communities in order for them to be effective. They include the services to those in need given by Catholic Charities agencies across the archdiocese.

“The archdiocese has made tremendous strides in the last decade building awareness of and support for our shared needs,” Milroy said. “However, it seems that the more we do, the more we find that needs to be done. And much as the Gospel message never changes, we have to continue to find new ways to make it alive and relevant every day and in every situation.”

Ultimately, Archbishop Buechlein hopes that the new approach and name of the annual stewardship appeal will help Catholics across the archdiocese appreciate how they are able to spread hope in many concrete ways through their participation.

“It is my hope that, as we Catholics approach the new way of looking at our annual appeal, we will understand and appreciate the fact that we are, in fact, the way in which real people with real needs find the hope that only Christ can give,” Archbishop Buechlein said. “I pray for a shift in the way we live our mission of charity.

“I hope we keep in mind that our ministries of charity flow from the word of God and from the sacraments we celebrate. These are inseparable.”

(For more information about Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community, log on to

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