This week, we have our annual Catholic Services Appeal. It has been a recurring event in the Archdiocese for as long as I can remember. I recall my time as a child sitting in the pew and listening to a verbal reading of the appeal by the priest. Then, I recall hearing the audio-only versions some years after that. And then finally, the exciting years of the video presentations!
While I did enjoy a respite from Father’s homilies, I confess that I was less than engaged in the presentations that were put before me. However, what I did not realize, was that despite my distracted attention, these videos were having an impact on me. I can recall people speaking, sometimes married couples, the bishop, or a student, who spoke about the impact that this financial appeal had directly on their lives. While I might not have remembered the specifics of each appeal, I knew that the requests for financial assistance were not simply another handout. Even my young mind knew that these were going to some meaningful mission of the Church.
Now, sitting here as a priest, and having been the beneficiary of these generous donations, I give extra attention to the messages for the specific reason that I have a personal connection. I realize how the gifts of previous generations of Catholics have aided the mission of the Church here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. So I ask you to pay attention to the connection you have with these ministries.
If you have been to a mass in the Archdiocese, you have been helped by this appeal. The priest who presided at mass was trained with donations from the Catholic Services Appeal. If you have had a visit from a priest at the hospital (who was not your pastor), you have been helped by this appeal. The priests who assist at prisons and missions are supported with donations from the Catholic Services Appeal. If you know someone who has attended a Catholic high school, you have been helped by this appeal. Many students whose families are in financial difficulties have received scholarships and thus are better trained citizens of our community. If you have been married in the Archdiocese, the marriage preparation retreats and programing are supported by this appeal.
The beauty of the Catholic Church is that we are all connected as one body. In helping one portion of the body, we inevitably help ourselves. It is in giving that we receive—we receive the grace, the connection and the love for which God has made us.
And so, I ask of you to examine the Catholic Services Appeal along with Jesus. Pray to our Lord, asking him how you should assist. Whatever Jesus asks of you, will only be for your good as well as the good of others around us. May God bless you for your generosity to our parish, our community and our Archdiocese.
Fr. Nels Gjengdahl