September 17, 2010

Service at homeless shelter gave family new view on annual appeal

Don and Barb Horan, members of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg, are serving as the general co-chairs for the “Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community” annual appeal. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Don and Barb Horan, members of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg, are serving as the general co-chairs for the “Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community” annual appeal. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Don and Barb Horan contributed to the annual archdiocesan stewardship appeal in the past.

But volunteering with their four daughters for a day of service in 2008 at the Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis, which is supported in part by the appeal, put “Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community” in a new light for the couple, who are members of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg.

“When you see the faces of the people, [you see that] they’re real people,” said Barb of the homeless families served at the shelter. “That kind of personalized it for you.”

Don was impressed that day by learning that the shelter’s staff members provide more than hot meals and a place to sleep for their client families. They help homeless parents find jobs and put their families on firm footing for the future.

“It felt very rewarding to be part of it and to be able to support that,” said Don. “We’ve supported [the appeal] for years. But I didn’t appreciate what they were doing for us until after we saw that.”

Now, two years later, Don and Barb are serving as the general co-chairs for the “Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community” annual appeal.

In their role, they are meeting with Catholics across central and southern Indiana, and encouraging them to take a new look at the appeal—just like they did.

Those who look anew at Christ Our Hope will see some significant changes.

Instead of showing how the appeal supports a host of ministries in the Church in the 39 counties that make up the archdiocese, Christ Our Hope this year will focus on three basic areas of ministry: proclaiming the word of God, celebrating the sacraments and exercising the ministry of charity.

Those who contribute to the appeal will aid the archdiocese’s proclamation of the word of God primarily through supporting Catholic schools. They will build up the celebration of the sacraments by funding seminarian education and supporting retired priests. And appeal contributors will exercise the ministry of charity by funding the agencies of Catholic Charities across central and southern Indiana.

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein recently talked about the appeal’s focus, saying that it was largely inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”), in which the pontiff wrote that this threefold ministry expressed “the Church’s deepest nature.”

“We can’t proclaim the word of God unless we continue to hand on the faith through our schools and religious education and faith formation programs,” Archbishop Buechlein said. “Without priests, we wouldn’t have the Eucharist, and without the Eucharist we wouldn’t have a Church, so we need to support our priests and deacons if we want to celebrate the sacraments.

“To exercise our ministry of charity, we need to support Catholic Charities and the many other ministries that our archdiocese and our parishes carry out to care for those most in need.”

Christ Our Hope this year will also put a special emphasis on five geographical regions within the archdiocese that group together its 11 deaneries. They include Batesville and Connersville, Bloomington and Seymour, Indianapolis, New Albany and Tell City, and Terre Haute.

David Milroy, executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development, explained that each region has a monetary goal that parishes in that region will be asked to meet.

However, the contributions to Christ Our Hope of Catholics within each region will either be used to support ministries based in that region or will be based on the number of Catholics who live there.

“So when people in New Albany and Tell City are donating to Catholic Charities, it stays in Catholic Charities New Albany and Tell City,” Milroy said. “When we’re asking people to fund seminarians and retired priests, we allocated that need based on the number of households within each of those geographic regions.”

Catholics across central and southern Indiana will have the option in this year’s Christ Our Hope appeal to specify what ministry they want to support through their contribution. They can choose to support proclaiming the word of God, celebrating the sacraments or exercising the ministry of charity on their intention card. Another option is to allow one’s contribution to aid the ministry with the greatest need.

“I’m hoping that a lot of people will check where the need is the greatest because that is a vote of confidence in the archbishop’s leadership,” Milroy said. “[But] there’s a lot of research that shows that, especially in the 30- and 40-year-olds, when they give, they like to have more say in what they’re giving to. We’re hoping that it will broaden the pool of [donors].”

In the future, that pool might include the Horans’ 17-year-old daughter, Rebecca, who is a senior at the Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Oldenburg.

Volunteering at Holy Family Shelter was as significant for the teenager as it was for her parents.

“It opened my eyes to the real-life situations of those less fortunate in our community, and gave me a chance to make a difference in their lives,” Rebecca said. “It gave me a sense of gratefulness for what I have, while also giving me a sense of pride in knowing that I helped, even in the smallest way, someone in need.”

The time she spent at the shelter also gave her a tangible awareness of the Church’s ministries across the archdiocese, something that Christ Our Hope can do for all Catholics across central and southern Indiana.

“My visit to Holy Family Shelter gave me an immense appreciation for the Catholic Church in Indiana,” Rebecca said. “With our current economy, there are a vast number of unemployed and homeless men and women, and it is evident that the Catholic Church is reaching out to each and every one in need to help them in the best way [the Church] can.

“It makes me proud to be a member of the Catholic Church, and inspires me to continue this call to service as I get older.”

(To learn more about the “Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community” annual archdiocesan stewardship appeal, log on to

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