October 29, 2021

Annual appeal is about ‘loving God, serving your neighbor’

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson elevates the Eucharst at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Sept. 23 during a special Mass for those who contributed $1,500 or more to this year’s annual United Catholic Appeal. Concelebrating with the archbishop are Msgr. William F. Stumpf, second from left, Father Patrick Beidelman, Father Eric Augenstein and Msgr. Joseph Schaedel. Assisting with the Mass is Deacon Stephen Hodges, left. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson elevates the Eucharst at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Sept. 23 during a special Mass for those who contributed $1,500 or more to this year’s annual United Catholic Appeal. Concelebrating with the archbishop are Msgr. William F. Stumpf, second from left, Father Patrick Beidelman, Father Eric Augenstein and Msgr. Joseph Schaedel. Assisting with the Mass is Deacon Stephen Hodges, left. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Jolinda Moore smiled broadly and applauded with the more than 180 individuals and couples.

Her own words inspired the outburst: “After two years, I’m so proud to be here together again, united in support of the Church we love so much,” said Moore, executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development and the Catholic Community Foundation.

They were words of welcome to those who donated at least $1,500 in advance to this year’s annual United Catholic Appeal, which has a goal of $6.3 million. The gathering took place on Sept. 23 at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center after a special Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, both in Indianapolis.

When the applause subsided, she introduced the theme of this year’s annual appeal: “United in the Eucharist.”

“I don’t think this theme could have come at a better time, a time when many of us felt disconnected from family, friends and loved ones as a result of the pandemic, and perhaps being disconnected from being able to participate in the sacraments,” she said. “The Eucharist is what truly binds us together regardless of where we are in our very expansive archdiocese. … It’s all about us working together to support God’s work.”

At the Mass prior to the gathering, principal celebrant Archbishop Charles C. Thompson also spoke on the “United in the Eucharist” theme during his homily.

‘At the core … is the Eucharist’

After commenting on Sept. 23 being the feast of St. Padre Pio, Archbishop Thompson mentioned how Pope Francis recently addressed the European bishops.

“He was reminding them instead of bemoaning the secularization and the loss of people [at Mass], that what is happening in the process is people have lost that sense of hunger and thirst for God in their lives,” the archbishop said.

“He reminded them they need to help people recapture that sense of hungering for the Lord, thirsting for God’s mercy, God’s justice, hungering and thirsting for something the world cannot give, to point out that people somehow have forgotten somehow to seek God. …

“At the core of that for us is the Eucharist.”

Archbishop Thompson noted that it is “important for us to focus on the Eucharist, not only that it’s the real presence, but also that it is the ultimate, ultimate satisfaction to the hungering and the needs in our world today.”

He called to mind a cardinal who recently commented that the Eucharist “is not a thing but an event. It is Jesus’ victory over sin and death by his passion, death and resurrection leading to our transformation. …

“Our ministries, services and all that we contribute to with our time, talent and treasure is to be about that transformative process. But the transformation is the Holy Spirit working through our ministries and services, working through our stewardship and discipleship. We’re the conduits through which God works, but it is ultimately God who brings about the healing, the peace, the joy, the transformation.”

Archbishop Thompson closed his homily noting that “with 126 parishes, 67 Catholic schools, ... Catholic health care services, two seminaries, the list goes on of all the many ways we’re reaching out in central and southern Indiana with the Eucharist at the very core of uniting all that together as the local Church connected with the universal Church.”

‘Loving God, serving our neighbor’

During the gathering after Mass, he expounded on the many ways United Catholic Appeal funds benefit all who live within the archdiocese, regardless of their faith.

“When you support the United Catholic Appeal, you are making it possible for the archdiocese to go and make disciples, to bring others to that personal encounter with the very person of Jesus Christ,” the archbishop said.

“All the ministries supported by the United Catholic Appeal make it possible for us to address the needs and concerns of the life and dignity of so many people throughout the archdiocese. We do this—and did this all through the pandemic.”

Among the ways in which this happened, he included caring for the poor and vulnerable; protecting and educating our children, teaching them to be strong and safe in the faith of Jesus; caring for the good and faithful priests who have dedicated their lives to the Church; and supporting our seminarians.

“Everything we need to understand about stewardship is found and rooted in the Eucharist,” Archbishop Thompson said. “Christ freely gave his life for our salvation, and we are all called to respond in gratitude and with grateful hearts to that ultimate gift by loving God, serving our neighbor.”

‘Beyond the scope of supporting your parish’

Matt and Naomi State, members of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis, agreed with the archbishop. They chose to give to the United Catholic Appeal because “we want to see the Church flourish for our children and for future generations, and to be a beacon of light in a world that is often uncertain and crazy,” said Naomi.

“To do that, it really goes beyond the scope of just supporting your local parish,” Matt added. “The whole archdiocese does such wonderful work for everyone that they need a wide scope of support.”

Clarine Baker said she and her husband Jim, members of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, contribute because, “the way the world is going, everyone is in such great need.”

When choosing where to channel their donation this year to the United Catholic Appeal, the couple chose seminarians and retired priests.

“We have a retired priest in our parish now,” said Jim, referring to Father Clement Davis.

“We have a seminarian who comes to our church every summer, and we get very close to them,” Clarine added. “It’s a real commitment, so they need a lot of help.”

Kent Bollerjack of St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute said he feels it’s important to give to the United Catholic Appeal because “God has been very good to me over the years, and it’s time for me to give something back.”

While he chose to let the archdiocese decide where to dedicate his donation, Bollerjack noted the worthy cause of Catholic education.

“I went to [the former Paul C.] Schulte High School in Terre Haute,” he said. “I’m a better person today because I graduated from there than if I had not had that religious training and the higher academic standards. And now it’s my turn to give back.”

Bollerjack’s travel companion to the event and fellow parishioner Jerry Wagner said he likes this year’s theme, “United in the Eucharist.”

“The Eucharist is the presence of Jesus, and that’s why we do all the things we do,” he commented.

Matt State agreed.

“We’re all part of the body of Christ,” he said. “To me, that’s the connection, because the Eucharist is the body of Christ, and [giving to the United Catholic Appeal] is a way to participate in that with our time, talent and treasure.”
 

(For more information on the United Catholic Appeal, visit 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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