In the book of Romans, St. Paul speaks about the three virtues of faith, hope and love. Of hope, he wrote: “and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” The virtue of hope inspired the theme for the 2021-22 Annual Bishop’s Appeal: “Witness to Hope.”
It is essential that Catholics place their hope not on things of the world, but on God’s saving grace. In the Bishop’s Appeal video, Catholics are reminded that: “Our hope, beyond all understanding, is in the immutable truth that the cross of Christ, rending the fabric of time and space, won our salvation.”
All three of the cardinal virtues play into the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, the fundraising arm of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend: faith in God and His holy Church, hope in the good work of His servants throughout the diocese and lovingly sharing the gifts that He has given to those members within it. The yearly campaign funds many good works in the diocese, from things like Catholic education to meeting the sacramental needs of all the people of the diocese. Through the efforts of the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, the work of the Church can continue.
In 2021-22, the diocese not only met their target goal, but exceeded it, according to Jeff Boetticher, Secretary of Stewardship and Development for the diocese. “The goals are determined by the Diocesan Business Office and are based on the individual parishes’ past giving to the appeal and on their annual offertory totals,” he stated. “This year it seemed that many more of our 83 parishes and oratories reached or exceeded their goals faster than in previous years.”
Father Jacob Meyer, Pastor of St. Monica Parish in Mishawaka, was featured in this year’s Bishop’s Appeal video. In it, he expressed that with the funds his small parish raised in a previous campaign, they were able to furnish an area of the parish that would be used to help create a greater sense of community. This year, St. Monica combined their Bishop’s Appeal with a capital campaign of their own, which was directed toward restoring the church and making needed repairs to maintain the structure and its beauty.
Speaking to Today’s Catholic, Father Meyer stated that his parish successfully met their goal and “the interesting part is that it was a three-year pledge, but most people chose to give up front,” so roughly 80% of the money needed is already in hand and ready to utilize for their projects.
St. Monica’s church building is nearly 100 years old and some pieces, such as the pews, have never been restored. The funds raised in this combined campaign will go toward restoring those and the baldacchino or altar canopy, bringing in a new altar of repose and ambo, expanding the parking lot, redoing some classrooms and more. All of this should be complete in a year and a half.
“The parishioners really stepped up,” Father Meyer said. “We have a lot of new families that gave; families that have been here three years or less. They’re very invested in the mission.”
He stated that his parishioners “are very bought into the Bishop’s Appeal, they see the value of it.
“The bishop has been so generous to us, this is a way to thank him, to give back to him for that generosity.”
One of the larger parishes in the diocese, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne, also reported a generous surplus from their Annual Bishop’s Appeal campaign. Father Terry Coonan, who was installed as pastor of the parish last summer, stated that, although he is relatively new to the parish, he has witnessed that “This parish has a history of generosity toward the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. … It testifies to the parish’s appreciation of the sacrifice that the Lord makes for all of us on the cross and in the sacraments, and is clearly an act of faith back to the Lord.”
He commented that this also reflected the gratitude of the people toward the leadership of Bishop Rhoades and “for the priests of the parish over the years, perhaps best represented by the men who grew up here and have become priests themselves.”
For their part, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton will likely put the additional funds toward parish ministries. Father Coonan is grateful for the financial support of parishioners, knowing with confidence that they will be able to “plan our budget and potential improvements or repairs.”
Father Coonan said of his parishioners: “I pray they know how important their sacrificial gifts are to the diocese and also to their home parish.”
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