A principle that guided strategists, campaign managers and candidates again this year, the adage means that in the election booth voters tend to make the choice they think is in the best interest of themselves and their community — vs. the country as a whole.
All Annual Bishop’s Appeals are local, too. The appeal, which pops up once a year on television and projections screens in sanctuaries across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, is an effort to collect the funds that not only help the diocese operate, but also keep the doors open at parishes.
In the last few years, funds received by the Annual Bishop’s Appeal have restored a water-damaged church in Fort Wayne to usability, provided pastors to several parishes that were operating under administrators, paid for speakers at youth gatherings and retreats, replaced HVAC units, erected new parish centers, permitted the celebration of special liturgies in places most families can drive to in under an hour, and a great deal more. As Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades noted in a letter sent to registered members of the diocese on Sept. 15, the good works enabled by the Annual Bishop’s Appeal — works of evangelization, education, pastoral care and charity as well as physical improvements to churches and schools — have the missionary aim of making disciples.
The bishop emphasized that the task of evangelization is the fundamental mission of the Church. It reflects the missionary mandate given by Jesus in His great commission to the apostles: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20)
Each parish in the diocese is set a collection goal for the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. Any amount of money collected over the set amount is returned to the parish for its use.
At SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Huntington, last year’s overage was of providential assistance to an extensive restoration project in the Civil War-era church. A new main altar was constructed, new lighting, fixtures and flooring installed and icons, statues, the tabernacle and even an original chalice restored. Brought forth by God’s grace to the current age, the parish will be lent even greater glory in the months to come by the addition of a parish multipurpose room and restoration of the church’s original pipe organ. ABA pledges from SS. Peter and Paul parishioners ensure the beauty and grace God has given to the parish will continue to grow and ensure its presence for generations to come.
In the context of kickoff weekend for the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, Father Andrew Budzinski of St. John the Baptist Parish, Fort Wayne, preached during Sunday Mass Sept. 22 about stewardship and the “necessity for us to let our treasure be at the service of the Gospel.”
Because of donations to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, he said, crucial diocesan ministries can be sustained. Some of those ministries are carried out by St. John the Baptist’s parishioners who, as employees of the diocese, play roles in including those with disabilities into the sacramental life of the Church, consoling those who have lost a child, advocating for those in irregular marriages and attending to the redress and healing of those involved in past misconduct by clergy.
Their positions and others at the diocesan level, including the Office of Evangelization, the Tribunal, the Office of the Bishop and the Catholic Schools Office, exist to be a resource for individuals and parishes.
“New St. John the Baptist School principal Mary Kieffer will tell you what a tremendous help the Catholic Schools Office is to her, week and week out,” said Father Budzinski, not to mention himself, he noted. Father Budzinski works several hours each week as the vocations director for the diocese, helping young men from around the diocese discern a vocation to the priesthood.
Thanking parishioners for their generous stewardship of both time and talent, Father Budzinski noted, “Your generosity really goes toward the work of the Gospel. That’s what the Annual Bishop’s Appeal is for – the spread of the Gospel.”
Additionally, St. John the Baptist was among the parishes able to begin much-needed church renovations last year because of a gift from the Annual Bishop’s Appeal.
“Four years ago, when it was literally raining inside our choir loft and flooding our basement, and when we didn’t have any money in savings, Bishop Rhoades gave us a gift that helped repair our building. Rebuild our Church got started because of your generosity to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, the bishop’s generosity, and the generosity of everyone in our diocese who is able to give.”
Pledges to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal are utilized in ways that are at some times visible. At other moments, they offer support behind the scenes.
For more information on how Annual Bishop’s Appeal funds are being applied, contact your parish priest or the Office of Development, 574-258-6571 or [email protected]. Pledges and donations are currently being accepted through the parish for the 2019 Annual Bishop’s Appeal.
Tim Horne contributed to this story
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