"The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. This is Bishop Paul Swain. With a grateful heart for your generosity in the past, once again I come to ask for your support of the Catholic Family Sharing Appeal.
Just a few months ago in thanksgiving for my five years as your Bishop, I led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and to Rome. At the many holy sites visited I prayed for our diocese, our parishes and each of you. As I reflect on praying at the sites of the birth of Jesus and of his death, at the sites of his resurrection and of the and of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and at the site of the institution of His Church founded on the rock of St. Peter and then praying with his successor the Holy Father in Rome, I was deeply moved and awed. From such humble beginnings and because of Christ's sacrificial love the Church has grown to touch the entire world including our local church on the prairie.
I especially recall reaffirming our baptismal promises in the river Jordan where Jesus himself was baptized. At that time the Father declared: "this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased, listen to him." If we truly listen to him we will follow him by "loving others as he has loved us."
St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians issues a clarion call to us all as adopted children of Christ through baptism: "Be imitators of me as I am of Christ." That is the theme for this year's appeal: Be imitators of Christ. St. Paul also told us how: "all that we do," he said, "should be for the glory of God." That means keeping a holy perspective when making personal choices, when considering how to use our blessings, and when responding to the needs of others.
The Catholic Family Sharing Appeal is an important way we can be imitators of Christ who gave everything he had on the cross out of love for us.
There are many programs that your CFSA dollars support at the parish and diocesan levels and that provide special assistance to the families and individuals in need.
For instance, if you are not able to attend Mass, the CFSA offers you the TV Mass.If you have children or grandchildren needing faith formation, the CFSA can help you through Catholic schools, youth programs, marriage preparation and enrichment, and catechesis. If you or someone you know needs grief counseling or other spiritual healing, the CFSA can help you through Catholic Family Services. If your parish needs assistance in addressing financial matters or the use of new technology, the CFSA can help you through the Office of Finance and the Office of Information Technology.
The list could go on. Perhaps none of these apply to you and your family, but you can be assured that the CFSA is helping others. All of us realize that priests are called to be imitators of Christ in a special way. Those preparing for the priesthood currently numbering 23 are financially supported in their seminarian formation by the CFSA. That support is vital.
This week you will receive a letter from me describing the CFSA 2012 and providing more information for your consideration. I invite you to prayerfully reflect on how you can imitate Christ through the Catholic Family Sharing Appeal. Please remember that all funds raised over your parish goal remain in the parish.
I know that for many this remains a difficult time financially. Your prayers for the success of this appeal are a beautiful gift as well.
Thank you in advance for your continuing generosity. One way you can imitate Christ is to imitate your family members who went before and with great faith and sacrifice built the local church we are privileged to share.
May Mary Immaculate, our mother, and to St. Joseph, our patron, watch over and protect you and those you love."
Here at the Newman Center we cover 1/3 of our budget through the collection that the farmers, businessmen and families of the Sioux Falls Diocese make. Your own parents, grandparents, teachers and others you know contribute to this project. Bishop Dudley, now deceased, served East River Catholics in the 80s and 90s, he called this collection the "Family" appeal because he wanted us to see each other as the family we are through our baptism and God our Father.
Our previous Bishop, Robert Carlson, also had good advice. He reminded us of God's commandment to tithe- give a tenth of our income. He suggested we break it up in the following way: from that 10%, give 5% to our local parish, 4% to other charities (like world wide missions or local activities), and then the final 1% for CFSA.
Our Gospel passage today shows us the final lesson: why we should give. We give because we are grateful. The leper is cleansed by Jesus but then is told to keep quiet- Jesus seeks to keep his ministry under his control. But the leper is filled with gratitude and cannot contain himself. When we give to CFSA and to our local parish we multiply the mission and presence of Jesus in the world. Let us meet him with gratitude in this Mass and spread his word with grateful hearts.
Cross posted at piusxiinewman.com.