As I’ve been repeating, to anyone not weary of listening, while the church (with a small c) might be closed, the Church (with a capital C) is very much open.
That’s evident in the reports of this edition of our archdiocesan newspaper: assisting those in need through Catholic Charities; tending to those sick and fragile through ArchCare; educating in our acclaimed schools and programs of formation in the faith; prayer and spiritual sustenance to God’s people via innovative methods in all of our nearly 300 parishes.
All of which is expensive! Pardon me for bringing it up, but the Church very much needs the generous, sacrificial offerings of her people to continue its sacred ministry. We’re not in it for the money, but we do need it to keep going!
I’m always reluctant to ask for financial help, probably because I cringe at the caricature of us pastors as money-grabbing operators. But, every once in awhile, I have to. As one of my brother bishops, a mentor, claims, “The bishop has to be the chief beggar of the diocese.”
I’m consoled that this has been a need in the Church from day one, as is evident in the Acts of the Apostles, the book of the Bible from which we often read these days of the Easter season. There we notice that the earliest Christians shared their goods with one another—we’d call it stewardship—and brought offerings each Sunday to be given to the apostles to keep the works of the Church, especially assistance to those in need, going strong.
So, my exhortation in this current time of trial: please remain generous and consistent in your financial support of the Church!
First would be your stewardship to your parish. Like our natural families, our spiritual family, the Church alive in your parish, depends on the weekly paycheck. For the parish, that’s the Sunday offertory collection. Problem is, because of the rigorous yet understandable current restrictions, we cannot be physically at Sunday Mass! So, our parishes are struggling.
Thank God almost all of our parishes have electronic giving, which many of you, our people, tell us is your preferred method of donating, and our pastors report that an inspiring number of their people are loyal still in their weekly offerings, even if they can’t show-up at Sunday Mass. Thank you!
Because we are Catholic, not congregationalists, we also have a financial duty to the archdiocese. Here, we are taking a hit. As you are aware, this is the season when the Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal is usually in full speed. Since the bulk of our fundraising occurs in and through the parish, through invitations made at Sunday Mass, we’re behind this year. You would appreciate my concern.
Noble and essential initiatives of the archdiocese—especially our charities, health care, education, evangelization, marriage and family life, pro-life, support of strapped parishes, care for retired priests and religious, and an array of ministries and apostolates,—will be hindered if your legendary generosity to parishes and the archdiocese falters.
Not only are the revenues we depend upon lower than usual, but the demands upon us are higher than usual, due to our current adversity. More and more people are approaching their parishes, charities, and programs for help because they’re out of work. We have a moral imperative not to leave their pleas unheeded.
This is particularly acute for our beloved schools. You beg us not to close schools, and, believe me, we sure do not want to. In the best of times, as you well know, we fight hard, scrimp and save to keep our schools at the highest standards, available, accessible and affordable.
In these times it’s even more dire. The vitality of a school depends upon enrollment. If the number of students in a given school shrinks too much, it closes.
This is the time of year our parents are deciding whether or not to enroll their kids with us. There’s sure no lack of parents who fervently desire a Catholic education for their children. I’m afraid that now there is also no lack of families worried whether or not they can afford to!
Thus our acclaimed efforts to support our schools are more urgent than ever.
Adding to the strain is that this is the usual season to have our effective events to raise money for our charities and schools. And we can’t have them this year!
We know that the Church’s strength depends on Jesus, who never fails. We also realize that Jesus works often by inspiring His people to sacrifice for His Church in their support.
That time is now! Thanks!