Sara Nespoli runs the faith formation program at SS. Simon and Jude parish, Gravesend. She is just months away from receiving a master’s degree in theology from St. Joseph Seminary. Sara believes her studies are an invaluable asset in teaching children and adults about the Catholic faith.
“You know your faith, but when a kid comes up and asks you, ‘Can you explain the Holy Spirit?’ or ‘Is there really blood in there?’ you have to have a good idea of how to explain, and explain it at their level, and with all the education I have been able to put it all together to explain it better to them,” said Nespoli.
Nespoli says her higher education was possible only because of the Annual Catholic Appeal, or ACA, a yearly fundraising campaign that supports the ministries of the Diocese of Brooklyn, including services for the elderly, affordable housing, faith formation, programs for new priests and youth ministries.
Nespoli expressed her gratitude directly to ACA donors earlier this month during a dinner at Giando on the Water, Williamsburg. The dinner was one of two “Court of Honor” receptions, hosted by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio for donors who gave $1,000 or more to the ACA last year. The receptions are designed to thank the men and women who generously contribute to the Diocese of Brooklyn programs and to introduce them to the 2018 ACA.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be here,” Nespoli said.
Bishop DiMarzio also personally thanked donors that evening saying, “This dinner tonight is a nice place, a nice dinner but the reward God gives you is something much greater than this and it lasts forever so whatever we do to say thank you is very small in comparison.”
Earlier in the day, Bishop DiMarzio also hosted a Court of Honor luncheon at the Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston. 500 donors attended both events and heard details on where their contributions are making a difference. Video testimonials highlighted the real life impact of programs funded by the ACA, like the Chaplain ministry at hospitals and senior center programs funded by Catholic Charities.
Among the ACA donors at this year’s receptions was Carlotta Giglio of Divine Mercy parish in Williamsburg.
“That’s why we are here,” Giglio said. “We are on this planet to help one another, of those who have much, much is expected.”
Brian Smith of Park Slope said, “We basically just feel it’s our obligation to give back and to support Catholicism.”
Bishop DiMarzio and Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, Vicar for Development, hope that the sentiment expressed by donors translates into even more generosity in 2018. They asked donors to dig deeper this year, explaining that funds raised in 2017 fell $2 million short of the $10 million raised in 2016.
A small bump in this year’s donation, according to Msgr. Gigantiello, would make a big difference to those in need.
“I know because of your dedication and faith that you are here tonight,” said Msgr. Gigantiello. “You know we are in a beautiful place and when the lights went down you are able to see all the beautiful lights and really that’s what we do, that’s what you do and that’s what the Annual Catholic Appeal does. It brings light to a darkened world.”