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Catholic Ministries Appeal gets underway

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Staff Report

The 2014 Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA) got underway the weekend of Feb. 22-23, kicking off the annual fund drive that fuels a collection of ministries through the 19 counties of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Formerly known as the Archbishop’s Annual Fund Drive, the CMA funds six umbrella ministries that each handle a variety of outreach efforts. The six ministries are: Seminary and Vocations; Catholic Charities and Social Services; Campus, Hospital and Prison Ministries; Retired Archdiocesan Priests, St. Rita School for the Deaf; and Sharing and Strengthening our Faith.

The theme for 2014 is, “In Your Name.”

The goal for the 2014 CMA is to raise $5 million. Each parish also has a goal amount to raise, and 50 percent of all funds raised over the goal go back to the parish. The 2013 CMA raised more than $5.6 million with nearly $400,000 being paid back to 82 parishes. All money raised by the CMA stays in the archdiocese.

To make a pledge, or to learn more, visit the CMA website.

As part of the announcement weekend, parishioners across the archdiocese heard a recorded homily by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr. The text of the archbishop’s homily is included below.

Homily by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr
Feb. 22-23, 2014

This is Archbishop Dennis Schnurr.  As we move closer to the season of Lent, we have an opportunity to live our faith more generously; we have reason to invite others into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ; and we have the opportunity to be Church, united around the world yet uniquely present in our local communities—healing, teaching, and feeding.

This opportunity is a call from God.  Some might even believe what God asks of us to be an impossible challenge, but God always gives us the grace to live out His calling.  Our readings today put the challenge to us directly: We are called to be holy.

In our first reading, taken from the Book of Leviticus, God speaks to the people of Israel as they’re on their way from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.  “Be holy,” God tells His people, through Moses, “for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.”  Then, in the gospel, we hear St. Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus tells those who would follow Him:  “. . . be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Holy and perfect are probably the last things most of us feel capable of achieving or being.  Like the Christians in Corinth to whom St. Paul addresses today’s second reading, we need to be reminded that holiness is not something we achieve by our efforts.  Holy is who and what we are, because of whose we are.  St. Paul tells us, “Brothers and sisters, do you not know that you are the temple of God … [and] the temple of God, which you are, is holy….  All [things] belong to you, and you to Christ.”

And how are we to show this holiness in our everyday lives? These are the instructions God gave to the Israelites in the Old Testament: “You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart. . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  In a similar vein, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells His followers, “Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back.”  In other words, we are God’s People, the Church, and as such we are to be God’s love made visible in the world. But we cannot carry out that mission exclusively as individual Catholics or even individual parishes.  Jesus gave us the Church because we need one another – all of us acting together – to continue Jesus’ ministry of love and to faithfully respond to our calling to love.

In his Apostolic Exhortation “The Joy of Evangelization,” Pope Francis talks about what it means to put Christ at the center of our lives in this way:

Being Church means being God’s people, in accordance with the great plan of his fatherly love. This means that we are to be God’s leaven in the midst of humanity. It means proclaiming and bringing God’s salvation into our world, which often goes astray and needs to be encouraged, given hope and strengthened on the way.  (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, #214)

At the local level, here in our parishes and our Archdiocese, the Holy Father reminds us that we are “the Church incarnate in a certain place, equipped with all the means of salvation bestowed by Christ, but with local features” (Evangelii Gaudium, #30).

By pledging our support to the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal, which begins today, we respond in a real and practical way to our call to holiness. In your name, local ministries with Christ at the center make a difference in the lives of thousands of people throughout the nineteen counties of our Archdiocese.  Because you love your neighbor as yourself and do not turn your back, there is food on the table for hungry families, young mothers choose life, children find families, and refugees enjoy shelter and welcome.

In your name, through the Catholic Ministries Appeal, the elderly, those who are ill or imprisoned, young adults on college campuses are “encouraged, given hope, and strengthened” by the presence of chaplains and pastoral ministers.  Priests, deacons, and lay ministers receive the formation needed to “proclaim and bring God’s salvation into the world.”

In your name, local ministries with Christ at the center open doors for children with communication difficulties.  The Catholic Ministries Appeal also provides continuing support for our retired archdiocesan priests who have generously served us all their lives. Catholics who have drifted away are welcomed home, and all of us are strengthened as we grow in holiness through God’s grace.  All of this is very Good News indeed!

This week, you will receive a personal Catholic Ministries Appeal invitation from me in the mail.  Please consider your response prayerfully, and pledge as generously as you can — even if you have never given to the Catholic Ministries Appeal before. Think about how God is calling you to be holy, to be Church, to put Christ at the center.

May God strengthen and bless all of us as we bring joy and hope through the Catholic Ministries Appeal, during this holy season of Lent and always. 

Thank you!


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