September 26, 2014

‘Not a one person or building show’: Archbishop Tobin speaks about United Catholic Appeal to Miter Society members

David Thomas, a member of Holy Spirit Parish of Indianapolis, receives the Eucharist from Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin on Sept. 17 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis at a Mass held for those considering joining or renewing their membership in the Miter Society— those who donate $1,500 or more to the “United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope” annual appeal. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

David Thomas, a member of Holy Spirit Parish of Indianapolis, receives the Eucharist from Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin on Sept. 17 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis at a Mass held for those considering joining or renewing their membership in the Miter Society— those who donate $1,500 or more to the “United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope” annual appeal. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin shared with luncheon attendees a question he was asked years ago as a new pastor of a parish in Detroit.

“This guy asks, ‘So Father Joe, do we really have to give 10 percent?’

“I said, ‘Well, that’s more of an Old Testament concept of tithing.’

“The man jabbed his friend in the ribs and said, ‘See, I told you it was just an Old Testament thing!’

“And I told him, ‘Right, because if you go by New Testament standards, you have to give it all!’ ”

After the laughter died down, Archbishop Tobin assured his listeners, “We’re not asking you to give it all.

“We’re hoping that at the same time as we invite people to join the Miter Society [those who donate $1,500 or more to the “United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope” annual appeal], we’re also hoping to increase the broad base, people who can’t give $1,500 but can give something.

“What’s equally important to us is increased participation. We’re working to increase the number of people who participate [in the annual appeal].”

The luncheon was held on Sept. 17 at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis after Archbishop Tobin celebrated Mass across the street at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

It was the first of several events to be held around central and southern Indiana, inviting people to join or renew their membership in the Miter Society as they support the annual United Catholic Appeal (UCA).

Archbishop Tobin asked the attendees to consider his preferred definition of stewardship: “Stewardship is what I do with what I have when I believe in God.”

“The decision about how I spend my time, how I use my talent, how I share my treasure are decisions made basically on faith because we recognize that everything we have is gift,” he said.

He described the three principal areas that benefit from donations to the United Catholic Appeal: providing Catholic education; instructing seminarians and deacons and caring for retired priests; and providing charity.

“[It’s] fostering education, both in Catholic schools and in our religious education and catechetical programs,” Archbishop Tobin explained.

“It’s providing ordained ministers for the future by supporting our promotion of vocations, the education of our seminarians and deacons, and providing retirement resources for our priests who have worked long and hard in the vineyard. They deserve a dignified retirement.

“And [it’s] caring for people most in need across the archdiocese.”

Archbishop Tobin spoke with joy of the 26 seminarians currently receiving formation with the help of UCA funds.

“The seventh of June this year I was privileged to ordain four men to the priesthood,” he said. “God willing, next year we’ll ordain three more, and in 2016 we hope to ordain six [men] to the priesthood. That will be one of our largest ordination classes in many, many years.”

Young adult and college campus programs is another area assisted by UCA funds.

“We’ve been putting an emphasis on these programs from high school to college and young adulthood because it’s precisely at that age that many young people become alienated in their faith,” Archbishop Tobin explained. “We need to keep our young people engaged in their faith, and give them the support that will help them remain Catholic, despite the many challenges that come in living in today’s secular world.”

He then described how the work of charity throughout central and southern Indiana is supported by United Catholic Appeal funds.

“Catholic Charities agencies serve about 180,000 people annually [in the archdiocese],” he said.

“The food pantry in Terre Haute provides food relief services to seven counties on the western side of the state, and all over we’re seeing more and more people who are working to support their families, but are just not making it. They’re only making a minimum wage, and they just can’t make ends meet. They’re coming to Catholic Charities probably for the first time in their lives.

“Without your help, we won’t be able to reach these people who struggle to find the bare necessities of life.”

Jeff Blackwell, a member of St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis and volunteer development director for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Indianapolis, feels called to support the archdiocese in its mission to serve all people in central and southern Indiana.

“I think that as Catholics we have the duty of outreach to everyone,” he said. “We can’t just provide it to the Catholic population that we serve—we have to serve everybody. It’s only right that the Church asks us to give what we can.”

His fellow Society of St. Vincent de Paul volunteer, Joseph Mellentine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis, agreed.

“The Church needs funding so that we can do the things we need to do, those very important functions of helping the poor and doing those kinds of things,” he said. “Parishes need the support of the archdiocese, and you need a strong functioning archdiocese.”

Ted and Bea Davis, members of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis, are drawn to the charity made possible through UCA funds supporting Catholic Charities.

“They have so many organizations,” said Bea. “I tell people, ‘You’d be surprised of all the ways Catholic [agencies] help.’ They do so much good in the community.”

Supporting retired priests is important to Indianapolis’ St. Pius X Parish members Ed and Madonna Hankee, whose son, Father Robert Hankee, is a priest in the archdiocese.

“When I fill out the [UCA donation] form, I always check the ‘retirement for priests’ box since I don’t want our Father Rob coming back and living with us,” Ed said with a laugh.

On a more serious note, Madonna, a former Catholic school teacher, feels that “we really need to support our Catholic schools because that’s where vocations come from for the most part. Our son is an example, and a former student of mine is entering I think the Dominican order this fall.”

Catholic education, seminarian and diaconate education and retirement for priests, and charity—none are possible without support of the United Catholic Appeal, said Archbishop Tobin.

“This is not a one person or one building show,” he said. “We’re able to do what we do because we have the support of people across the archdiocese.”
 

(For more information on the United Catholic Appeal, log on to www.archindy.org/uca, or call the Office of Stewardship and Development at 317-236-1415 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1415.)

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