When our Holy Father Pope Francis invited the entire Church to contemplate God’s mercy during this Jubilee Year, he had a specific reason. He is concerned that as humanity we are losing our capacity for mercy. We seem to be so bent on seeking justice that we ignore the need for mercy. Addressing all Catholics, he writes:
Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help! May we reach out to them and support them so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity! May their cry become our own, and together may we break down the barriers of indifference that too often reign supreme and mask our hypocrisy and egoism!
He urges us to engage in the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. I do know that in our parish we have numerous opportunities to heed our shepherd’s call. I am aware that we are an extremely generous parish especially when we are called upon to assistthe needy and the poor. Your generosity particularly during the Christmas season can take anyone’s breath away. In this column I would like to encourage everyone to participate actively in the Annual Catholic Appeal of the archdiocese. Archbishop Blase Cupich wants us to become the “Hands of God’s Mercy.”
I am sure you give to many causes and organizations. As we say, however, charity begins at home. We try to help our own family and everyone in our diocese is family to us. Please do not be concerned that any of your donations will be used to settle sexual abuse cases. Our archbishop assures us that monies collected by the appeal will be used only for the stated purposes.
When we travel outside the country, we often get a different perspective on life and the world. We discover that people in other parts of the world are so much like us even though we have different languages, customs and culture. We suddenly become aware that we are part of a bigger reality; we are, in a certain sense, members of the global family. In the same way, when we visit St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome we hear so many languages spoken there. We suddenly realize that we are part of the Universal Church. As Catholics, we are not identified merely with our local parish. We are part of the Archdiocese of Chicago and the global Catholic Church.
Every year when the Annual Catholic Appeal comes around we are reminded that we are part of the Archdiocese of Chicago. It is that time of the year again. Our archbishop approaches us on behalf of many parishes, schools and communities that lack the resources that we here at St. Paul’s can take for granted. More than two-thirds of the funds raised by the appeal go towards parishes and schools that do not possess the financial muscle to remain open. The rest of the money is used to support the many departments and agencies that assist parishes and schools in the exercise of their ministry to their local communities. Over the recent years the central bureaucracy has become much leaner but it does provide an important and necessary service. Whether it is the department of canonical services or the office for Catholic schools, or the legal department or the office overseeing buildings and facilities, we could not function without their help.
You will be invited to make in-pew pledges to the Annual Catholic Appeal the weekend of January 30/31, and I encourage you to be as generous as possible. La St.year we did not engage actively in this appeal because we were in the middle of our own capital campaign. In the past we have been a very generous parish in this regard. We have always exceeded our goal. I am only encouraging you to continue to do what you have done in the past. I would encourage those of you who have not given in the past to consider giving this year. The needs are many.
I do have a selfish motive in encouraging your generosity. As you know, whenever a parish exceeds its set goal, the surplus money comes back to the parish. Thanks to your bounty, we have been able to complete several projects in the last few years. Six years ago we used the surplus (along with bequest money) to install new boilers in the church. Five years ago the surplus enabled us to acquire new software for the parish database and also to create a new website. Using these rebates we have been able to do many necessary capital improvement projects on our campus.
I leave you with the words our archbishop writes in this regard:
In a partnership of generosity, the Annual Catholic Appeal enables us to be The Hands of God’s Mercy in the world. The Appeal supports efforts to share the joy of the Gospel, inviting generations to become Jesus’ disciples. In addition, the Appeal helps to sustain Catholic schools, needy parishes, programs of religious education and ministerial formation, the many initiatives for the protection of life and the promotion of peace and justice, and the many other ways we as an Archdiocese proclaim the Gospel in our midst. The Appeal also funds Catholic Relief Services in reaching out to the poor and to those whose lives are devastated by natural disasters, illnesses, wars, and famines, no matter their religious affiliation.
Let us become the Hands of God’s Mercy to others! The prayers of our archbishop and of our parish will sustain you.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...