April 6, 2016 // Local

The 2015 Annual Bishop’s Appeal sets a new record

The 2015 Annual Bishop’s Appeal “WALK BY THE SPIRIT” is another success.

Harry Verhiley, Secretariat for Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, told Today’s Catholic the goal for the 2014-2015 Appeal was $5,149,745. “Our diocesan families raised $6,721,656 which accounts for 131 percent of the goal.”

Verhiley continued, “The Bishop’s Appeal is an important annual fund to help underwrite various ministries throughout our diocese, but also a benefit to our parishes. It is important to remember that a gift to the appeal is applied to your parish goal and 100 percent of the overage is returned to your parish. The 2015 Bishop’s Appeal will return more than $1.5 million to our over-goal parishes, once collected.”

Bishop Kevin Rhoades told Today’s Catholic, “The faithful of our diocese are always generous to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, as well as other parish and diocesan needs. I am grateful to all who gave to the 2015 appeal. The Annual Bishop’s Appeal supports the many ministries, services and programs that proclaim Christ’s love and mercy throughout our diocese. I pray that God will continue to bless the work of our diocese and all the faithful who continue to contribute to this important work.”


A Christian steward – Poor in Spirit

By Harry Verhiley

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…” (Mt 5:3). It seems, as followers of Jesus, we should ask whether we would be counted as “poor in spirit?”

A stewardship way of life is an interior attitude of being poor in spirit – spiritually detached from our wealth.  This does not mean that we do not have anything, but simply that we are unattached to what we do have. We cannot be poor in spirit if we are striving after riches and wealth, but only if our spirits are striving for God. We are poor in spirit if we use our possessions and wealth as means to give God glory – then our spirits are attached to God, not riches.  If we are poor in spirit then our hearts should be set on God, who is much more valuable than our riches.  We should keep riches in our homes and in our pockets instead of in our hearts.

There is, however, a lot of capacity for self-deception, rationalization and justification about how we are living our lives.  Have you ever heard anyone declare that they were greedy?  Greed creeps into our lives undetected. Greed is deceptive, easy to rationalize and easy to justify.  Seldom do we recognize that we have enough, not to mention too much.  We can easily become captive to the insecurity of not having enough. This self-deceptive view of our possessions, regarding what we need, also seems to continue to expand as we go through life.  We are always looking for more; yet, we do not need more if we have what we need.

As Christians, we know that God has given us the gift of Himself and He calls us to live our lives corresponding to that relationship, as we make our way home to Him.  The first beatitude, like the first commandment, puts God first on that journey home.

In our contemporary society there are very few people who form golden calves and then bow before them. However, there are many today who have strange gods.  This first commandment is probably violated more than any of us realize.  Offenses against God seem to be more prevalent in our modern society because we are always in danger of substituting other things in place of God and devoting our attention to them.  Some of these things come with a remote control, or automatic start, form fitting, or with surround sound, made of gold, diamonds, wood, plastic, or computer chips.  Some are worn, eaten, played with, driven, flown, sailed or simply plugged in and watched and listened to.

God should have the first place in our hearts; our relationship with Him should influence every decision we make in life — not only our gifts of time, talent and treasure to our parish, but everything we think, say, do, purchase, giveaway or receive.  If we love anything — anything, more than the Lord, it is a false idol. We should have a burning desire to be faithful to God — faithful followers of Christ, and use all that we possess in this life to see our way to Him.

A stewardship way of life is only an indication that we are striving for God.  It is an attempt to live by God’s grace.  To see God above all else, to see other’s needs as more important than our own; this is the approach of a Christian steward.

The way of a Christian steward sounds difficult, if not impossible — doesn’t it?  This way of life is impossible if we try to do it on our own.  The Christian steward recognizes that we cannot live a stewardship way of life without God’s grace. Only with the help of God can we look beyond our own needs and desires and love God and our neighbor, as we should.  Only with God’s help can we become masters of ourselves.

If we are good Christian stewards of God’s gifts, we will be using His gifts as He designed.  Not that we earn our salvation by the use of our gifts, rather we act upon the faith that we have in Jesus Christ until we are face to face with Him and hear, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34).

The kingdom of heaven is of real value, do not be fooled by the false idols.  Man is not valued by what he possesses, but as Jesus quotes Deuteronomy, “By every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4) — that is where we find happiness.  That which is life giving and life forming, only found in God. What else could we possibly need?  Especially since we know that we are poor and reliant on God to lead us home to Him.  Then once we are with Him in the fullness of His kingdom, we will possess the only thing that counts – the kingdom promised by Jesus to those who are poor in spirit.




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