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April 21, 2010
Appeal vital to proclaim the Gospel, build faith community, serve the needy
When we think of the Church, we usually think of our local parishes. This is understandable. At our parishes we encounter Christ in the Eucharist, couples are married, babies are baptized, sins are confessed and families come together for the burial of loved ones.
But for Catholics, the Church is actually much bigger and wider than any individual parish. We may rarely think of the Archdiocese of Denver as our primary community of faith, but it really is. Each of our parishes is a local expression of the archdiocesan Church, which in turn is the local reality of the universal Church.
I have the duty and the joy of being the pastor of the Church we all share as Catholics in northern Colorado. And each part of our Church, whether it’s in the northwest corner of Colorado or the heart of Denver, is an equally vital part of the body of Christ.
The annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal (ACA) is our most essential way of contributing to that body which is the archdiocesan Church. Catholics believe that the Church is the ongoing presence of Christ in the world. So as disciples, we’re called to do as the first Apostles did; and that can be summarized in three brief mandates. They all, unavoidably, need resources to succeed.
The Church’s first mandate is to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—even when the Gospel message is inconvenient in our own lives or unwelcome in the world around us. So whenever we raise financial resources, which of course the ACA seeks to do, those resources need to be used in some way to preach Jesus Christ to the world around us. The ACA plays a vital role in underwriting the formation of our future priests, and in supporting our pro-life work and our communications ministries as part of the Church’s evangelization of culture efforts.
The Church’s second mandate is to build up the community of believers. The vitality of Christian life depends not on feelings or good intentions, but on a deep and mature faith, especially in the face of adversity. This is why archdiocesan educational and catechetical ministries, which the ACA also supports, are so important.
The Church’s third mandate, following in the footsteps of Jesus, is to care for those who are in need. Jesus didn’t require people to believe in him before he loved them, healed them or entered into their lives. As Christians, we have the responsibility to be the presence of Christ in the lives of others—even those who are not believers. Thus, an important portion of ACA resources always goes toward serving the poor through the works of Catholic Charities.
Giving of our resources is a sign of faith. For many of us, money embodies the ideal of security. Yet, it is the message of the Gospel that we should trust in God’s provision, and that we are stewards—not owners—of the many good things God has placed in our lives. Our only real security is God’s love, and the more generously we reflect that love to others, the deeper our own happiness here and in the life to come. The Christian vocation invites all of us, priests and bishops included, to give sacrificially from our material resources back to God.
I invite each of you to listen for and respond to the presence of the Holy Spirit in your lives. The Church is each one of us, witnessing the Gospel through our daily actions; and the Church is also all of us, working together as a community of disciples. I urge you, through the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, to help generously in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus, building our community of faith and reaching out to those in need. Your gift to the ACA matters immensely to tens of thousands of people across northern Colorado who depend on the Church for education, material help, spiritual renewal and public moral witness. God bless you for your kindness.
April 21-22: Priests’ Convocation, Keystone
April 23: Mass and confirmation, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Wheat Ridge (7 p.m.)
April 26: Candidacy Mass, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, Christ the King Chapel (5:30 p.m.)
April 27-May 2: Rome travel