Annual Catholic Appeal 2014
This weekend we are conducting the in-pew pledges for the Annual Catholic Appeal. The theme of this year’s drive is: “You are the Temple of God.” God’s house is made up of living stones and each one of us contributes to this organism called the Church. In that sense we are responsible for each other. We belong to one family.
Some years ago I was sitting across the table from a priest who was the pastor of an inner city parish in Chicago. Our conversation revolved around our respective parishes and eventually I asked the inevitable question: “How much do you receive in weekly offerings?” He said that they got on average $3,000 a week. My jaws automatically dropped. I could not believe my ears. I asked him, “How do you manage to run a parish on that amount?” He replied, “That amount is not enough even to heat the church. We would be forced to shut down if the archdiocese did not come to our aid.
It was then that I was once again reminded that we are part of a bigger reality. We do not stand alone. The Annual Catholic Appeal recalls this truth. Just as St. Paul encouraged the early Christians to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters in need, every year the Cardinal appeals to our generosity on behalf of our needy communities across Chicago. I know for sure that you are very generous. Many of you have been giving to this annual appeal for years and you would have received the letter in the mail. Through our response to our Cardinal’s request, we prove once again that we are a caring parish.
There are many schools and parishes that would close their doors but for the help from this annual fund. It sustains numerous charitable initiatives to parishes and schools throughout the archdiocese. Poor parishes receive debt relief because of the monies collected. You can read about the fund’s many laudable projects on the archdiocesan website. The fund also supports the necessary structures that serve the needs of parishioners and parishes around Chicago.
In these last few years I have seen for myself the services provided by the archdiocesan offices. I have personally relied on their resources with regard to our school, legal issues, marriage matters and human resources. When we undertake construction projects, they help us with our contracts and supervise the quality of the work done.
We enjoy significant discounts on many of our operating expenses by participating in archdiocesan-wide contracts for gas, electricity, telephone services, health plans for our teachers and employees, maintenance purchases and outside printing, to name a few. Without those services we as a parish could not function efficiently and effectively.
I encourage you to support the Annual Catholic Appeal because it also helps our parish. As you may be aware, the archdiocese sets a goal for each parish based on their offertory collection. If the parish exceeds the target, the excess comes back to the parish. Our parishioners are so generous that every year we receive a significant refund that finances certain capital projects. We are hoping to get a hefty refund from the Annual Appeal this year, too.
I want to thank you for all the ways you contribute to our parish community and to the larger archdiocese. I would like to appeal to you to give what you can to the Annual Catholic Appeal. It is a worthy cause. Its purpose is not to sustain a superfluous bureaucracy. Its objective is to help those in need and to support parishes in Cook and Lake Counties.
Here is an opportunity to declare that we are part of the bigger Church. We come to each other’s assistance. That is what we have done for centuries. That is what we do now.