By Fran Lavelle
Every once in a while we are reminded of the importance of looking back to see where God has been present in our daily lives. In ministry it is not only a good thing to look back but a necessary one. Responding to the bishop’s Catholic Service Appeal gave me such an opportunity to look back. In my years in parish ministry I was blessed to serve the young people of this diocese through youth and campus ministry.
We are able to provide campus ministry programs in our diocese because of the support of the Catholic Service Appeal (CSA). Be assured the contributions you make, make a difference today as well as pay dividends well into the future. I am blessed to know former students who are serving the Church as priests, sisters, music ministers, youth ministers, catechists, and other parish leaders.
In campus ministry our ability to be present to students during their college years helps underscore the importance of their Catholic faith. Undoubtedly we would not be able to provide that kind of formation if not for the grants campus ministry programs around the diocese receive from the Catholic Service Appeal.
The Catholic Service Appeal is like a bed of fertile soil without which we would not be able to grow the faith in communities both large and small throughout the diocese. We often don’t think about the soil our food comes from but we readily enjoy its fruits and vegetables. So too the contributions to the Catholic Service Appeal are like that fertile soil, we see the benefits but may not make the connection between money given and the people served by the funding.
As I reflected further on the benefits to our parishes from the CSA it occurred to me that at every intersection of our faith formation we have access to programs funded by this appeal. Every aspect of our lives as Catholics in some way has benefited from the bishop’s appeal.
When we give to the Catholic Service Appeal we are ensuring that those who are called can be formed and educated to serve in their role be it as a priest or a lay person like catechetical leaders, RCIA directors, marriage preparation leaders and other lay pastoral ministers who serve our diocese.
We often see the challenges of being a mission diocese and the large geographic area we cover as too much to overcome. But we are blessed in abundance with generous folks who give of their time, talent and treasure. Mississippi is ranked second in the nation for charitable givers by philanthrophy.com.
This comes as no surprise to me as I have witnessed time and again the generosity of the people in this diocese. I encourage you to pray about how you can best express our legacy of generosity. I have seen the good fruit your generosity bears in the lives of many former college students. What a gift it is to see it come full circle and witness their generosity as they give back.
I am grateful for your support of the Catholic Service Appeal and on behalf of the many lives touched by your generosity. Thank you.
(Fran Lavelle is Co-director of the Office of Evangelization and Faith Formation.)