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Catholic Ministries Appeal aids many; Annual collection helps critical area ministries

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One of many helped by CMA donations, Derryck is now Catholic. He converted in prison, thanks to the help of the prison ministry that still helps him today. (Courtesy Photo)
One of many helped by CMA donations, Derrick is now Catholic. He converted in prison, thanks to the help of the prison ministry that still helps him today. (Courtesy Photo)

The Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA) is an effort each February and March by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to support critical regional needs — through hospital, prison, and campus ministries as well as Catholic charities and social services. The CMA also benefits evangelization programs, retired priests, and education of seminarians, deacons, and lay ministers. All are local programs. The following vignettes are about people who have benefited from the CMA.

Derrick was a prisoner at Lebanon Correctional Institution who spent a lot of time in solitary confinement during his five-year sentence for vehicular assault. As he walked by the prison chapel one day, he was shocked to see a fellow gang member carrying the crucifix at the beginning of Mass. When Derrick later asked about it, the inmate said Derrick should check out the Catholic classes.

Derrick began taking Catholic instruction, an initiative supported by the CMA. “It was the best thing that could ever happen,” he said. “I think it saved my life.”

Derrick was baptized in prison last Easter, ahead of his release from prison last summer.

Carolyn was in her 60s, had lost her job, was depressed, hungry, and hopeless. Her phone and utilities had been cut off. Being malnourished was making her confused. A neighbor told her about people who could help: Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley, a ministry supported by the CMA.
That neighbor “physically brought me here to Catholic Social Services,” Carolyn said. “She said, Get up and get dressed and I’m taking you down there.”

A worker at the Catholic Social Services food pantry told Carolyn, “Let’s get you food first. When you’re hungry, you’re not even thinking straight.” The agency also helped Carolyn get her utilities back and helped her get a job.

“Coming to Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley literally changed my life,” Carolyn said. “It gave me back self-esteem, and hope.”

Father Brian Phelps, associate pastor at Incarnation Church in Centerville, recognizes what the CMA did for him.

“I’m grateful to the donors of the CMA for helping with my formation,” Father Phelps said.

Father Phelps grew up in Cincinnati, went to La Salle High School and the University of Cincinnati, and was teaching and coaching at a high school. But he knew something was missing in his life. He asked God what to do, and soon experienced the calling to become a priest.

He entered Mount St. Mary Seminary, part of The Athenaeum of Ohio, a beneficiary of the CMA. During his seven years there he was able to concentrate on studies and spirituality without worrying about expenses – thanks to your support.

Maria, a member of a Cincinnati parish, has a son with speech apraxia. The disorder is so severe that Nic couldn’t even say “mama” or “dada” by age three.

Maria and her husband heard about a program at St. Rita School for the Deaf. After touring the school, Maria began crying in the parking lot because St. Rita’s seemed perfect for Nic, but the family couldn’t afford tuition. She called the school director right from her car and said it was too expensive for them. Maria was told that help would be found.

It was, including from the CMA. Nic has learned how to sign and to speak.

To donate to the Catholic Ministries Appeal, or for more information, visit CatholicAppeal.info or call 800-686-2724, ext. 2880.

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