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Surpassing Expectations: Despite Pandemic Setbacks, Faithful Push Catholic Ministries Appeal Past $5 Million Goal

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by Jessica Rinaudo

The odds seem stacked against Catholics and Catholic organizations lately. With the ongoing pandemic, the temporary closing of churches and the obligation to attend Mass suspended for the foreseeable future, it’s tempted to give into the doom and gloom of our present situation.

However, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati have not only continued to support the local Church during this unprecedented time, but have surpassed their donations to the Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA) compared to this time last year, exceeding the campaign’s $5 million goal.

The Catholic Ministries Appeal is the annual campaign supporting six local ministries that teach, feed and heal. All 200+ parishes of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati join together to invite participation in this vital appeal. Donated funds support: Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services; St. Rita School for the Deaf; new evangelization; seminary and vocations; retired archdiocesan priests and senior clergy; and campus, hospital and prison ministries.

“We didn’t know what to expect after the shelter in place order was issued,” said David Kissell, Chief Development Officer for the archdiocese. “But we knew the CMA ministries were going to be on the front lines of helping people through this crisis, so we focused on sharing these inspiring stories as much as possible.”

And the continued outreach of CMA-funded ministries is truly inspiring. With support from community Catholics, Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio and Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley were able to provide food pantry services, including a drive-thru options, to meet the increased needs of families, as well as make care package deliveries to clients of Su Casa Hispanic Center and Refugee Resettlement Services. Additionally, both organizations were able to connect directly with vulnerable populations through check-in calls and videos.

“The support Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio and Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley receive through the Catholic Ministries Appeal is invaluable to our work,” said Tony Stieritz, CEO of Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio. “Through [the] careful stewardship of these generous donations, we feed hungry families, provide mental health services to the poor, strengthen parenting skills, welcome migrants and refugees and accompany seniors, in addition to many other services. We see these contributions as more than just transactional gifts from parishioners to our agencies. They are expressions of discipleship that the faithful want to join us in this mission to serve local families and change local lives.”

Likewise, hospital chaplains have become vital, physical presences for patients as family members are not permitted to visit the sick right now.

This time of pandemic has left many populations isolated. Retired archdiocesan priests continue to help and serve where they can. Their public ministry is limited, as many are high-risk individuals, but they continue to offer private Mass and pray for the needs of the faithful.

Inmates remain in isolation, but prison ministry leaders are preparing for when in-person ministry can begin again. There are currently eight inmates in formation to enter the Catholic Church. The Prison Ministry program is also focused on recruiting new volunteers to pilot a restorative justice program in Ohio called Bridges to Life.

Alternative means of connection remain a primary concern for CMA supported ministries. St. Rita School for the Deaf moved their classes to online learning during the pandemic and continue to educate and meet the needs of their students in this new learning environment. Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary and School of Theology sent all seminarians home in the spring, but courses and formation continued for the rest of the school year through electronic means.

And the pandemic did not halt ordinations! In April, seven men were ordained transitional deacons and one was ordained as a permanent deacon. Two men were ordained as transitional deacons for the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Cincinnati. On May 16, three men were ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Connection to lay ministries also continued through new evangelization efforts. The Pastoral Center’s New Evangelization team personally connects with all couples currently in marriage preparation, and hosted an on-line Encounter Youth Event with adoration, teaching and praise and worship. These are just a few among many of their digital outreach efforts.

“Love and charity are service, helping others, serving others. … When you forget yourself and think of others, this is love! And with the washing of the feet the Lord teaches us to be servants, and above all, servants as He was a servant to us, for every one of us,” said Pope Francis in his March 12, 2016 Jubilee audience.

The Catholic faithful have certainly shown their love and charity this year, despite all odds. Thank you for your courageous support in these uncertain times. Donate at aocstewardship.org/cma.

This article appeared in the August 2020 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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