by John Mark Willcox
The coming months will see our community of faith again striving to enable the work of Christ within our diocese by supporting our Annual Stewardship Appeal. A new year brings the promise of hope and there is no better time than the season of Lent to choose how we might provide for the needs of others amongst us.
As with each Appeal, significant funds are dedicated to providing for our retired and infirmed clergy, men who have given lives of service to this local Church and who are worthy of our combined care. Our aging Presbyterate means this area of need will always be a part of our Annual Appeal. Replacing these men with newly ordained priests remains a high priority and your Appeal donations support the cost of educating our 10 seminarians. Our diocese is blessed to have a strong contingent of men in seminary training and this remains our largest Appeal allocation at $300,000 in 2017.
The charitable endeavors of Catholic Charities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Pro-Life Ministry, Campus and Prison ministries still seek the Church’s assistance for people in need.
This past year of intense flooding across our diocese brought out the best in area Catholics, as donations and direct assistance made a difference in the lives of thousands.
Our ever growing and diverse Hispanic Catholics benefit from your Appeal, and our entire diocese will celebrate the ordination of Deacon Fidel Mondragon to the priesthood on June 10, 2017! His ministry to our diocese will be a true benefit to both English and Spanish speaking Catholics throughout North Louisiana.
Your Appeal has funded recent successes in the ministry of youth and young adults which has put this group of young Catholics on solid footing. This includes the establishment of youth leadership, helping the young people in our community take ownership of their faith. This is crucial for the future of our faith community.
In the ministry of education, your Appeal dollar supports our Office of Catholic Schools and catechesis for our youth and adults in local parishes. Consistent, high quality worship also compliments our lives as Catholic Christians due to Appeal support.
Our wonderful Slattery Library, located on the second floor of the Catholic Center, continues to grow in its resources and materials with Appeal support. Additionally, our Safe Environment Program benefits from this Appeal. And, don’t forget, the very magazine you are reading, The Catholic Connection, has received most of its funding from our Annual Appeal since its inception. It is mailed free of charge to every known Catholic in our diocese and is one of Bishop Duca’s primary ways of communicating with the people of North Louisiana.
“This is an important year for our diocese,” comments Bishop Michael G. Duca. “Nearly every avenue of our ministry and outreach as a Catholic community is impacted by our Annual Appeal and it is vitally important that we work together to keep the success of our Appeal a priority. Our people have been so generous over the years and for that I am truly thankful. My prayer is that more Catholics in our diocese choose to support our Appeal this year as the need is greater than ever.”
Appeal Sunday this year falls on February 26. Please take some time until then to consider your 10-month pledge to support our array of Appeal ministries. A pledge card can be found on page 30 of this issue, and you may use this to facilitate your annual gift to our Appeal. You can also give online by visiting, www.dioshpt.org.
Together we can form a vision for our diocese, a mission of walking together in the footsteps of Christ to help those in need, evangelize our community and enrich our children and teenagers in the faith. Together we can enact our vision of having more priests to serve the faithful, allowing them to train and carry out their missions from God. Please consider sharing in our vision, our mission, and take time to pray for the success of our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal.