June 14, 2019

Giving offers opportunity ‘to say thanks’ and ‘do thanks’

Jess, left, and David Gasper of St. Ann Parish in Jennings County said supporting the annual United Catholic Appeal is important to them. They were among the 90 people who attended the Circle of Giving Mass and dinner on May 16 at St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish in Floyd County. (Photo by Leslie Lynch)

Jess, left, and David Gasper of St. Ann Parish in Jennings County said supporting the annual United Catholic Appeal is important to them. They were among the 90 people who attended the Circle of Giving Mass and dinner on May 16 at St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish in Floyd County. (Photo by Leslie Lynch)

By Leslie Lynch (Special to The Criterion)

FLOYD COUNTY—“How can we not give back?”

Susan Isaacs’ six-word question captured the tone and spirit of the Circle of Giving celebration at southern Indiana’s St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish on May 16. The gathering of nearly 90 people from Dearborn County to St. Meinrad celebrated the generosity of those who gave $1,500 or more to the United Catholic Appeal or who contributed to the future of the Church in central and southern Indiana through the Catholic Community Foundation.

“It [giving] doesn’t seem optional,” said Isaacs, a member of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville. Her husband Dean added, “We’ve been given an opportunity to use the gifts God has given us, and also an opportunity to give back. We are very thankful that we can.”

In his remarks to those who attended a Mass and dinner afterward, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson reminded those present that our faith calls us to be good stewards of our resources.

“We are called not only to say thanks to God,” he said, “but to do thanks as well. The mercy of God is not some beautiful idea, but rather a concrete action. There is no mercy without being concrete. Mercy is getting involved where there is something wrong, where there is illness, where there is hunger, wherever there is exploitation.”

He added, “The mission drives the resources, not the other way around.”

Jolinda Moore, executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development, also thanked those in attendance.

“One hundred percent of gifts to United Catholic Appeal directly supports ministries, services and programs in the archdiocese that benefit everyone in our Church and in our surrounding communities,” she stated. She noted that the annual United Catholic Appeal has resulted so far in pledges of nearly $5.5 million.

Miter Society members contribute $1,500 or more to the United Catholic Appeal, which meets the present needs of the Church in central and southern Indiana. Legacy Society members focus on the future with planned gifts contributed through the archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation—providing for the Church in their wills, for example, or by starting an endowment.

Moore referenced a basket of prayer intentions returned with pledge cards.

“Roughly 1,000 prayer intentions came in from across the archdiocese for Archbishop Thompson to offer up in personal prayer,” she said. “As we read through each of these, we started to notice that many of the prayer requests are actually answered thanks to [archdiocesan ministries supported by] generous donors. You are supporting ministries and programs that in turn answer prayers for others. Isn’t that beautiful?”

Generosity transcended generations through some families in attendance. Wilbur Richmer and his son, David, both members of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville, share a habit of giving.

“I’m glad to be able to help out a little bit,” said Wilbur. “Priests’ formation and retirement are important to me, but I support the United Catholic Appeal because of the good it does, whatever the needs are.”

“Education and Catholic schools are important to me,” said David. “Trying to bring people back to the Church, bring the young people in. I give because I was taught to give back.”

David Gasper of St. Ann Parish in Jennings County agreed.

“Giving to the United Catholic Appeal reaches outside what we can do ourselves and helps those in need,” he said. “It gives us more than one way to help.”

One such way he noted is through the appeal’s support of seminarians. Seminarians of the archdiocese receive substantial financial support in order to complete their formation at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis and at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

Gasper said his family knows several archdiocesan seminarians, “some who I went to high school with, and others through [parish pastor] Father [Jerry] Byrd. He’s always got seminarians at our parish, and knowing them touches me.”

The United Catholic Appeal also supports the archdiocese’s deacon formation program. Deacon Martin Ignacio of St. Mary Parish in New Albany expressed his genuine gratitude “to all the people who provided funds for my diaconate formation. I couldn’t have done it without your help.”

Sometimes that monetary help can be difficult to give. Lori Hamilton of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in New Albany noted that one year, during a time of financial difficulty, her husband Greg “insisted that we continue giving to the Church …, and that taught me to trust God.

“Every year I grow more in my desire to give back. We are called to generosity. There is so much need in the world.”

“We can’t give directly to all the needs of the archdiocese, so we give to United Catholic Appeal,” added Greg, noting a special place in the couple’s hearts for the appeal’s support of retired priests and St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in New Albany, which helps vulnerable young women, children and families.

“We give because we receive,” he continued. “We acknowledge all the great gifts God has given us. We are blessed, and blessed even more in returning them to God.”

In his homily during the Mass, Archbishop Thompson spoke about creating a culture of giving through developing a culture of life, of vocations and stewardship—all Christ-centered.

“By cultivating that culture, we bring about the kingdom of God in southern Indiana.”
 

(Leslie Lynch is a freelance writer and member of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville. For more information about supporting the United Catholic Appeal or the Catholic Community Foundation, contact Jolinda Moore at 317-236-1462, 800-382-9836, ext. 1462, or e-mail jmoore@archindy.org. Online resources for the United Catholic Appeal can be found at www.archindy.org/uca; Catholic Community Foundation resources are available at www.archindy.org/ccf.) †

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