“Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” These words of Jesus have been guiding our diocese in a particular way these past four years. These words are also the charge given us for the years ahead. The Holy Spirit is clearly telling us what we are to do. Now it is up to each of us to become disciples of Jesus and then go out there and disciple others!
This is never easy. We are in a society that is often encased in sin and pessimism. We can even get quite discouraged at the condition of our faith and our Church. We choose, however, not to focus on the darkness. Rather, we are boldly stepping forth to Witness to Hope.
We have taken positive action by building up our own Household of Faith. There are many activities going on in all of our parishes, thanks be to God. This fall, we will have our second Diocesan Assembly to help us bring back the Lost Sheep, those we know are called by name by our God and whom we must now call by name back to the Lord and his Church.
In addition, our evangelization efforts need funding. Thus, after a serious period of consultation and prayer, we are beginning a diocesan-wide capital campaign aptly called Witness to Hope. The biggest single chunk of the funds raised will return to our parishes, where the evangelizing and re-evangelizing takes place. While a small proportion will go to support our senior priests and to assist with infrastructure work at the cathedral, most of the funds raised will support our announcing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
These elements include support for our Catholic Charities and their witness to hope and service of those in need; for need-based assistance to children in Catholic schools; for improving and supporting our religious education and parent formation programs; and for supporting our seminarians on their way to becoming our future priests. While our annual DSA supports the ongoing operations of the diocese, this campaign is focused on moving us to be ever greater lights in the darkness of our world.
Such a campaign is formative for all of us in two ways: it does remind us how we are all stewards of the financial gifts with which God has graced us; and it reminds us that we are Catholic, that is, that while we love our parishes, we belong to the wider Church and it is always better to work together to achieve God’s will.
So, I invite – in fact, I beg – all of you to pray for the success of this campaign, as well as the success of our Diocesan Assembly. Then I invite you to consider, as part of your prayer, how you may become sacrificially involved in this great act of stewardship, how you may become a Witness to Hope.
I look forward, over the next year and a half, to being with you as we get moving and announce the Gospel of the Lord.