My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
On behalf of everyone served throughout our Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens, we begin the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal, “Share The Joy of the Gospel,” by thanking those who so generously responded to last year’s Catholic Appeal. If not for the commitment of our parishioners to this annual initiative, the basic services and ministries offered by the Diocese would not be possible.
This weekend, we begin the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal in parishes that participated last year in our Generations of Faith capital campaign. The Generations of Faith capital campaign is helping to strengthen our parishes by not only providing security for our senior priests, but also investing in the Church’s future through our diocesan youth ministry initiative. The Annual Catholic Appeal continues to support the vital diocesan ministries that serve all of Brooklyn and Queens on a day-to-day basis. The theme of the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal continues to be inspired by Pope Francis’ Encyclical “The Joy of the Gospel” which reminds us of the happiness we receive when we bring the Good News to others.
Pope Francis writes, “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and the lives of those who encounter Jesus. Those who accept His offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, bitter emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.”
We understand from our Holy Father’s writing that as a Church of the Gospel, we are a Church of joy. Pope Francis further challenges us, not only to accept the joy we receive in Jesus, but also to share the joy found in Christ with others.
The 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal is a real way for all who call Brooklyn and Queens home to respond by aiding the Diocese in spreading the Gospel message to all in direct ways through financial support of: Catholic Education, Catholic Migration Services, Catholic Charities, Vocations Support, Faith Formation, Chaplaincies, Care for Retired Priests and Parish Assistance.
These ministries go beyond the abilities of any one parish but they benefit all parishioners who make up our diocesan family. In the area of Catholic education, your support makes it possible for the Diocese to identify children who are not currently enrolled in our religious education programs or Catholic schools and academies. Catholic education is so important to the life of our Diocese because it ensures the future of our Church in Brooklyn and Queens. Currently, there are 40,000 students attending our Catholic grammar schools, academies and high schools and 44,400 students enrolled in parish religious education programs for those not attending Catholic schools. A sad fact is that there are another 80,000 students, baptized and are living in the Diocese of Brooklyn, who have never been given any religious education. Through your generosity and the collaboration of our parishes and Catholic schools and academies, we can identify these students and provide all our children with religious education.
The 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal also makes it possible for the Church to welcome the stranger among us through its support of Catholic Migration Services. Thanks to your commitment to the Appeal, Catholic Migration Services along with Catholic Charities reaches out to those in need of legal assistance, housing, food, socialization and child care to name a few vital programs.
The life of every parish within the Diocese of Brooklyn depends heavily on the dedicated work of our priests. Your support of the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal is crucial in fostering Vocations by sustaining programs which allow men to hear and respond to God’s call to the priesthood.
Upon my arrival to the Diocese of Brooklyn in 2003, we had 27 seminarians preparing to enter the priesthood. Thanks to the investment in vocation programs made possible by your gifts to the Annual Catholic Appeal, over the last 11 years 45 men were ordained to the priesthood for Brooklyn and Queens. Additional 51 men are currently in formation and, please God, will be ordained priests.
The Office of Faith Formation is also aided by the Annual Catholic Appeal. This office is responsible for how we prepare young people and adults to receive the sacraments. The School of Evangelization, within the Office of Faith Formation, provides the instruction and opportunity for the Diocese of Brooklyn to provide our lay leaders with the necessary tools to call others to Christ through the Church.
The 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal allows us to support our Catholic Chaplaincies in non-Catholic colleges and universities, hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions throughout Brooklyn and Queens. The chaplain’s work is significant in ensuring that none of the faithful of Brooklyn and Queens are denied access to the sacraments.
Our retired priests are helped by the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal as well. At the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, 45 rooms are dedicated to our senior priests who live in the Bishop Mugavero Residence. This home provides a dignified community experience for priests needing assisted living.
Lastly, not all of our parishes are able to meet the financial burden their work demands. In recent years, we have made tremendous progress with Christ Jesus Our Hope, where we looked at all the parishes of the Diocese to see which needed to be combined in order to be sustainable and vibrant. The parish support which your gift to the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal provides goes further to help those parishes with large pastoral demands in communities of low means or extraordinary circumstances.
Your commitment to the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal, no matter how big or small, ensures the success of the mission of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Together, we are able to cast out our nets and put out into the deep to become fishers of men and women. You can respond to the joy the Gospels have brought you, by bringing others to the Lord through these diocesan ministries. I ask that you join and help me Share the Joy of the Gospel with those in need by making a pledge to the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal.